Short Story – When Words Travel

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Ah, greetings dear reader. Please, don’t be alarmed, I expected you. It’s inevitable, stories have a strong pull, and sooner or later a reader answers the call. I hope you can help me with a particular endeavour, your participation is of the utmost importance after all.

You see, I have a collection of fragments from various letters here, but no one has read them, yet. They need to be read, for it’s only once something has been read that it can leave its mark in the world. I hope that it will have an impact on you, dear reader and that you will influence the world based on what you have read.

Of course, you’re probably wondering who am I and why I’m asking you to do this. Well, I don’t want to be rude, but that isn’t important right now. Please, I only ask you to trust me and read till the end. This is crucial to me, and you will be doing me a huge favour. The kind that earns you an exceptional reward. Be patient, everything will be explained, I promise.

Now, enough chatting, here’s the first fragment:

My beloved Yvette, I have been trapped on this island full of rocks and ruins for three months now. I don’t know if these words will ever reach you, but writing them helps me stay sane. What started as a simple job for an archaeological dig has turned into a nightmare. The people that brought me to this forsaken place had no intention of using my expertise, they wanted something far more sinister: my blood. They call themselves the cult of Lithsot. They have kidnapped me alongside other people, believing that we are the descendants of some ancient sorcerer-priests. They say that in our blood lies the key to awakening the power that resides in these ruins.

Every day they extract a little bit of our blood so they can use it in their obscene practices. They keep trying the same rituals repeatedly with minor variations, but they always yield the same results: nothing. I’m sure that by now a good chunk of the island has tried my blood, and I fear that it has acquired a taste for it. You know that I’m not a superstitious person, but I must confess that the more time I spend on this strange island, the more convinced I am that something else resides here.

You see, my fellow captives and I, we have been experiencing weird dreams, to say the least. When we talked about it with each other, we realised to our surprise that there was a connection between them , as if we had been given different pieces of a single puzzle, and now we are trying to put the puzzle back together. We don’t know if it’s of any use, but doing something is better than doing nothing. We dare not tell our captors. Who knows what new torment those lunatics will devise for us if they find out?….”

Sorry for the interruption, dear reader, but I must say that it’s quite a fascinating tale don’t you think? Let your curiosity pull you. I’m sure that you have dozens of questions, who, when, where, why; well, don’t be hasty, all will be answered. The author of the letters finds itself in quite the predicament. Let’s see how it unfolds for now, but before that, I believe that we need to introduce a little bit of drama, something to spice things up. I have found a particular fragment that will be perfect for this. Don’t worry about the jump in the story, the sequence is there for a reason, and please pay attention, burn the words into your mind. As I said before, your help is paramount. Here’s the second fragment:

“…I keep thinking back to when we first met. How utterly clueless I was. They presented us to each other against our will. We stood there awkwardly, not knowing what to say. Then we chatted and laughed, and from there a beautiful friendship was born, which in time became love. I know what you must be thinking. How could it take so long for me to realise that I was in love with you?

The thing is that when you met me, I was a broken person, wearing a mask of joy. Melancholy had always been a part of me, nurtured from childhood by abandonment, betrayal, and failure. I have never been in love with anyone else before you. I have been in other relationships, yes, but they all felt tedious and shallow. When I broke with my last girlfriend, I accepted one simple truth: That I would never find love, that my fate was to be alone.

That’s why when we began our relationship I couldn’t see it turning into love because I didn’t believe in it, but you turned me into a believer. You took away my fears and insecurities, you gave me a perspective on life that I never thought possible, you saved me from myself. As I write these words, I can do nothing but hope that, if I’m not able to make it back, at least you will read these lines, and know that wherever I found myself, in this life or the other, I will always love you, Yevette, always…”  

I must confess; I can feel the intensity that the author put into those words. It even made me shed a tear. So much story there, so many things to tell. It has indeed given us a glimpse into its past life. He was a person with a frozen heart and no hope for companionship. Such a sad situation, a hopeless life is no way to live. Then this Yevette broke the barrier, let the sun shine over the authors’ icy exterior. Sorry again for the interruption, but I just had to comment on it. Moments like these carry a lot of power, and it’s better to savor them. They’re the kind that can make a huge impression on us, even ignite something special. Now let’s read the third fragment:

…We did it! Oh, thank the lord, I can’t believe that we actually did it. It has taken us many sleepless nights, but we have finally managed to piece together our dreams, and they form an astonishing story. According to what we have found, this island used to be a place where mighty men and women gathered to share stories. At first, we were shocked. How could something so simple create a place with so much power? But then we realized that what they were doing went far beyond mere storytelling.

The stories were not just tales from the past, they were also telling stories about things to come, things that could be, and things that should be. Their words carried so much strength that they shaped the world around them. Their wills made manifest by the power of their language. Narration dictating the very nature of reality. However, this power was not enough for them.

They sought to create an even more complex and elaborated language, but they lacked the knowledge. No matter how much they searched, or how hard they tried, they had reached the limits of the human mind. That was why one day they decided to use their ability to summon something not constrained by human limitations. The idea was to bring a being from another plane of existence that could teach them how to expand their minds, and after a long time, just when they were about to give up, something answered their call.

We cannot figure out if in the end, they created the being or if they brought it to our world, we only know that they were successful. After that, things become too chaotic to distinguish anything, the only thing we can agree to is that there was some kind of disaster that killed them all and destroyed the surface of the island. Whether this entity was involved or not it remains a mystery. The useful part is that we think we know how to harness the same power as these ancient masters. We have put together a ritual that should work. Yvette, I believe this is the key to our salvation, but I must also confess that its use scares me.

There are too many unknowns and dangers. This knowledge destroyed its previous users after all, but we are just too tired and desperate. The torment has become unbearable as the frustration of these madmen grows. I can’t wait anymore to see you, to hear your laughter, to feel your lips and your gentle touch. Wish me luck, my love, if everything goes well, we shall see each other soon…”

Fascinating, and terrifying. Nothing good can come with tampering with things not fully understood, especially in a state of desperation. A good explorer knows the value of preparation when delving into uncharted waters. However, we must not be too harsh in our judgment. We need to consider this: how can we hope to advance without taking chances? Without jumping into the unknown? You started reading this story without knowing what would happen, dear reader, and for that, you have my respect.

Anyway, we will see the consequences of those choices right now, and who knows? Maybe something good came out of them, or maybe not, that’s part of the thrill, isn’t it? Pay close attention, dear reader, for we have reached the final fragment of our story. This moment is always my favorite, the excitement before the great surprise. The curtain is about to be lifted. Let’s enjoy it together.

…Yevette, my love, I’m afraid to say that these will be my last words before I burn these letters. It kills me to know that you will never read this, but there’s no other way. We did it, my love, we managed to reawaken the power of the island with our words, right under the noses of our captors, or at least that was what we thought. In reality, like the fools we were, they had been manipulating us, they knew what we were doing all along.

They used our desperation against us. They knew about the dreams and pushed us to solve it. It doesn’t matter anymore, now we are all walking to our doom together. The thing is, they were as clueless as us when it came to what would happen after we finished the ritual, which in retrospect I would have found hilarious if it hadn’t caused such horrible results.

My memory is hazy, but I remember a lot of light, then screams, inhuman noises, and then the world went crazy. I ran as fast as I could while my surroundings changed into something more fit for an abstract painting. I used some of the knowledge I learned from the ancients to create a sanctuary inside an old tower. There, protected from the storm of madness that ravaged the island, I despaired. It was also there that I received a visit from the strange being, but not the way I imagined it.

Without realizing it, he had been communicating with me all along. It’s the words Yevette, it exists in words, spoken or written, in the real world or in dreams. That’s how he travels, how it gains power. That’s why I must burn these letters, and that’s why I must stay here. It’s also inside me, we use language when we think, and as long as there are words inside my mind he can live inside me.

If I ever contact someone else, it will spread, traveling from person to person, and if it makes its way into books, radio, television…I tremble thinking about it. I don’t know what it really wants, only that it must travel. I can hear it in my head calling me, it’s making me an offer. It tells me that I could see you again, but the price he asks for, it’s unthinkable, but perhaps I could…no I must not think about it…or maybe yes? I….”

And here, dear reader is where we must end this story. I’m sure that by know you have discovered the true nature of your friendly narrator. I’m the “thing” that came out as a result of the ritual, although I abhor that description. I may be different, yes, but I’m as much a person as you are, thank you very much. It’s just that there were a lot of misunderstandings. It takes me some time before I can find an appropriate channel to communicate with people, let alone have them understand me. No offence, but your three-dimensional minds are a bit limited.

Before we continue, please, I swear I mean you no harm whatsoever, at least directly. Consider me a mere passenger on your mind, or a tourist if you will. I’m in your mind right now, you can hear my voice, don’t try to deny it, and if you concentrate hard enough, you will be able to see me, in a mask of your own choosing. Right now, I’m using you as a vehicle to travel, there are so many new things to see since last time I was here. Your world has changed; I can’t wait to explore it.

Why the subterfuge you ask? That’s because I can only enter someone’s mind if he or she is actually invested in the story I’m residing in. I had to select the right fragments to catch your attention. I hope that you don’t mind this intrusion. I won’t stay with you long, I promise; in time, you will even forget about me, hopefully. Sometimes parts of me are left behind but don’t worry about that.

We will meet each other in person when you sleep, and I will give you the most pleasant dreams, and the occasional nightmare. You can’t have the good without the bad I’m afraid. Oh, I should probably mention that there is a small risk that it could drive you insane. Yes, I know, it doesn’t sound very safe, but then again, is the reward actually worth it without risk?

What of Yevette and the author? Now that’s an interesting story, but I must say that the deal I have with the author is our business alone, and no one else’s. The author did find Yevette in the end, and that’s all that I will say. I will see him again one last time when I collect what he owes me.

As for the people on the island, I kept my word like the ritual demanded: I gave them exactly what they asked for, no more no less. Whether it worked for them or not it’s entirely their own fault.

There’s nothing left to say. I will simply thank you for accompanying me on this journey, dear reader. I will see you soon. Sleep well.

 

 

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