From Dusk Till Dawn

We began searching the area for some sort of shelter that we might use for the night.
It was probably due to my exhaustion and the previous visions, but i could have sworn that i saw her, the ghost, speeding from tree to tree, hiding from my sight.
There was no way it could have been her, no way...
We found a cave that we could use as a shelter not too far away from the tree.
Each found a spot and made himself comfortable.
I wasnt sure if i would be able to sleep that night either, but i wished with all my might for it to happen.
I watched the dropplets of water travel down the wall of the cave...
Without even noticing, i fell asleep.
I woke up in the middle of the night, startled, heart pounding, as if i had had a nightmare, yet i could not recall it. I looked around just in case something was off, but there were no signs that indicated that i should fear for our integrity. The daemon quietly slept in its corner and breathed steady and peacefuly.
I returned to my sleeping position, but this time sleeping would prove more difficult than before.
I tumbled, turned and tried different positions that might provide me with the slumber i needed, but neither my body nor my mind felt comfortable with the idea of returning to dreamland.
Then it came to me.
An idea.
Sort of a gut feeling attached to a memory that was surfacing in my head.
I remembered that she once told me that she had some sort of extrasensory perception, a psychic power of sorts, a sensibility that went beyond my five senses.
Without thinking about it i placed my right palm on my forehead, bent my thumb, ring, and baby finger and concentratet on sending a message that i hoped would reach her.
I stayed like that probably for a long period of time, concentrating on the message that i wanted to convey and placing my faith in it reaching my intended recipient.
Once i thought it had been enough, i inmediately found solace in my slumber one more time with no difficulty, as if my previous action had triggered my sleep.
*Time to move* the daemon told me as he nudged my body with its muzzle *we have to find something to break our fast and continue our travel*
I nodded obediently and made my way out of the cave.



I turned my head to gauge the size of the forest.
How could i have not seen it from the wasteland, it as enourmous.
As far as my eyes could see there was forest all around, expanding like a green ocean on the surface.
I turned my whole body around to get the view of the other side.
The wasteland started almost at the edge of my range of sight.
It was far far away... it would take days to get just to the edge of the forest...
How long had i run, it made little sense to me.
It was not relevant though, i had to make my way down to inform the daemon.
Then i made the mistake that nobody but me would have done in my situation:
i looked down.
My stomach dropped to my feet and i started to sweat profusely.
I was affraid of heights...
My head started to spin and  i felt a knot in the pit of my stomach.
I grabbed to the thin  trunk for dear life.
Why had i looked down, it was a mistake i knew i should have never made and yet i made it, how could i have been so stupid?
I held even tighter as i tried to steady my breathing and my heart, i closed my eyes as to shut my mind out of the world around me.
A small amount of bile made its way up my esophagus and ended in my mouth, i spat it out and opened my eyes once again.
I had to get down as soon as possible by my own will or i will leap down against it.
Going up had been easy, just grab a branch and get the rest of the body up there, getting down was a whole different story...
I slowly sat on the branch, careful not to lose my balance or slip to my death.
I hugged the branch tightly and started to turn my body around it as to end up face up so i could descend on the next branch. It had seemed easy enough in my mind yet my body had difficulty following my brains orders.
One i was positioned as i wanted, i let my legs go of the branch. My abs were not strong enough to hold the weight of my legs and they jerked down pulled by gravity straining my arms and making me desperately fight to not let go.
I dangled for a bit until i regained balance and then slowly let my arms slip around the branch so my feet could get contact with the next branch.
Left foot down, right foot down, and left foot slipped.
The world slowed down around me. I saw my foot slipping, i sensed my body skewing, my muscles tensing and my heart racing. As my body was almost horizontal on the branch i made an effort to grab the branch with my arms so i could avoid plummeting to what would surely be my death.
I managed to barely hold on but it wasnt enough, my body was still slipping, i dug my nails in the bark with the hope that it would suffice.
Lady luck favors those who try, or so the saying goes.
It worked, i was able to stop myself from falling at the expense of a nail that had left my finger, not able to withstand the strain that i had put on it.
The world returned to its normal speed.
I was yet again gasping for air, feet dangling, heart racing, muscles burning.
"I have to do it... i cant, i wont give up... not for me, for them..."
Once i had steadied my breathing i colleceted my thoughts and my strenght and continued my descent.
Dusk had already covered the land once i set foot on the ground.
"Its this way" i told the daemon while pointing at the right direction
*Good, lets find shelter for the night, we will resume on the morrow*



There it was, a tree i could probably climb, though given my current condition it was a miracle if i was able to even get to the first half of the trees height.
I couldnt be deterred by that, i had to try, i owed that much to the daemon.
I grabbed the first branch and pulled myself up.
So far so good.
I hugged the trunk and looked for the next branch.
Right after finding it, a vision flooded my mind:
Malcom and the ghost chased by the Banshees, Malcom, in a futile act, wasting his ammo against the otherwordly beings.
I regained my sense of self as a stinging pain took over my senses.
I had probably had too many blackberries, my stomach was not ready for it.
I stretched my arm towards the next branch and had to hold in a cry of pain. Moving made the pain in my stomach worse.
I braced for the next painful blow as i stretched my other arm and my leg to get a better footing.
As i hurled myself up i let out a scream of pain and strain.
I lost consciousnes for the briefest moment and was able to again get a hold of the trunk just as i was about to lose my balance.
Not even one fifth up the height of the tree and i was already about to give in to the pain.
Another vision flooded my mind:
Fireworks over a small lake that had a willow pouring its branches into it.
Thank goodness my muscles had tensed while i was hallucinating, but where was that, i couldnt remember having ever seen that place yet alone been near it.
I once again shook my head and focused what little strenght i had to prepare for the next leap.
Every time i got on a new branch, my mind was invaded by visions:
A large space vessel making its way from a mechanical planet
A sheet of paper slowly being filled by and invisible hand with drawings of people struggling
A guitar playing songs by itself on a stage to a nonexistent audience
A Lioness leaving her cubs alone in the wild to bever return
A flood destroying a small village
A winged warrior slaughtering his enemies with a large sword
and finally
A tortured soul begging for forgiveness from the depths of hell
I had made it... i was on the top and able to see the horizon...



I got little sleep and it was plagued with nightmares, yet what had i expected? Was i worthy of something better than that? I knew i wasnt.
Once dawn started dripping into the cave the daemon looked at me, trying to hide his disgust, and signaled with his head for me to get out of the cave.
I stood up, the morning dew that had collected on my clothes seeped in and made the wet clothes stick to my already cold body, moving would get rid of that, so i started walking right away.
Once i left the cave i carefully examined the surroundings.
A forest, lush, full of life...
How had i ended up here? Nowhere near the abandoned dust town had i been able to muster a forest this size, how long had i been running?
*Fuggin stop daydreaming and get to walking, only hell knows how far we have strode from the right path...*
I nodded and started walking.
We walked in silence and with no particular sense of where we were headed to, but the most important thing for now was to keep walking no matter where. The goal was to get out of the forest and there was only one way of achieving it.
Hours passed of silent walking. My stomach complained from time to time as i had not had any food since the day before, but i dared not ask the daemon for a rest.
Only once his rumbling stomach was too much to endure even for it did we stop.
*If you want to eat, i recommend you look for something edible, for i will not be providing you with any.* it said before taking off.
I  was left in the middle of the forest, mouth wide open, stomach rumbling, feet hurting... but i had to do something. Doing nothing would certainly not feed me.
I started to look for berries or what i thought were edible plants.
After what seemed like an eternity searching i stumbled upon some wild blackberries.
I picked them from the bush carefully as to not hurt myself with the thorns, which i could not avoid in the end.
Once i was done my hands were stained red both from the blackberry juice and my own blood.
The daemon appeared behind me, looked at my hands, and then nodded once again.
We continued walking...
Why had i run away? Was i really that much of a coward but had had no opportunity to show it?
I hated it... I hated that i had run away... i hated that i had betrayed my friends when they need me, i hated that i had betrayed myself and the daemon...
*Stop with the self loathing, you will get plenty of that in your dreams from now on anyway*
I looked at him, it looked back.
*Focus on getting out of here, the energy you are spending in those pointless thoughts is wasted, better use it for something productive*
I nodded and continued walking.
What could i think about right now that would help me get out of here?
We had no idea of where we were nor did we know where to go to get out of the forest.
We would need some kind of guidance, some sort of reference point.
It struck me, if i climbed one of those trees, i would be able to see in which direction the forest transitioned into the wasteland.
"I have an idea..." i said while turning towards the daemon
*Then put it to action*
"you havent even heard w..."
*I already know, i have known for some time, now shut up and do it*
"But how..."
I shook my head and started looking for a tree to climb.


The Sch(e)ism

Everything happend too fast for my brain to really comprehend what was going on...
I catched my breath and focused on makinf sense of my surroundings.
I was in a cave of sorts, dark, humid, water running down one of the walls, the daemon was in a corner wounded, shivering, gasping desperately for air as was I.
I was sitting against a wall, my back drenched both with my sweat and the water dropplets that had collected on the surface.
"Where... are we...?" I managed to say
*Dont you... remember?* the daemon wheezed
"I...no... not really..."
*You are even dumber than I thought then...*
*Really? Nothing? Make an effort to remember your and my cowardice...*
I let my head fall on my chest and focused onn remembering how i had gotten to this place and why it was only the daemon and me. Where were Malcom and the ghost? Why werent they with us or better, why werent we with them?
The daemon scratched his claw on the rocky surface making a very wail-like strident sound.
Slowly the fog in my mind cleared and i started to remember.
We were all about to distract the banshees so we could continue our journey, i had seen a bottle and we were silently discussing how to execute the distraction.
I had volunteered to run and fetch the bottle and then throw it as far as i could so the banshees would go investigate the sound.
I remembered running to the middle of the road, picking up the bottle and facing in the direction of the banshees to throw it... but one had turned around while i was running and was getting ready lo lounge at me.
I stood there, frozen, not knowing what to do, thee fear had congealed in my veins rendering me completely inmobile.
I remember hearing Malcom screaming for me to get a grip and run, i remember the daemon transforming itself yet again for a new confrontation, i remember suddely being able to move and i remember running like i had never ran in my life.
From then on it was blurs of yellow and green and blue.
Then everything went black and i returned to myself in the cave.
"I...ran away..."
*You left them behind, yes... We left them behind, though not on my own accord*
"I... betrayed them... I am... a coward"
*Yes... that you are you fuggin idiot*
A solitary tear embarked on a journey down my grubby face.
*Dont you dare cry... not after what you have done... you could have avoided this, you could have fought, you could have stayed, but you didnt*
"Why... did you not stay with them...?"
*Im bound to you, remember?!* it roared as it stood up
It slowly made its way towards me
*My curse is to be alongside you for as long as you live no matter how idiotic your actions. I have to stay with you no matter how flawed you are and it is something only i must endure, for others are not bound to you as i am*
It was now in front of me. It stood on its hindlegs and pounded the wall with its paws only centimeters away from my face.
*And i swear, if you ever pull one of these again, i will make sure you never repeat that mistake, are we clear?* he whispered, its snout milimeters away from my nose.
I could both see and feel its breath on me.
"Yes... clear..." i managed to answer
*Good* it receded and coiled in one side of the cave *Rest for now and fugging think about the atrocity you have just commited, as soon as the sun raises we are out of here to look for them. And pray we do find them... and they are half as happy to see you as you will be of seeing them*
I quietly nodded and also slumped on the cave floor to try to get some rest that i knew i would not find in my dreams...