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The ongoing collection Volume VII

By J. R. Wagner

The fourteenth day of August, The year remains unknown

By the gods I have managed to pass beyond my fever induced stupor that should, by all rights, have taken my life. I do not recall my previous entry, writing it, that is. It makes little sense in meaning or context and the numbers have no discernable relevance. I find myself in a sanctuary of sorts, but am unsure where among the lands of the north it is situated. I woke to find myself cleaned, fed and clothed yet I cannot recall a single memory of what transpired from my last entry on the twelfth day until now. My journal, I found neatly situated on a polished wooden table beside the bed upon which I woke. Imagine, a bed! If only I could recall laying my head on the pillow and enjoying the night’s sleep –a comfort that has eluded me for over a decade. The pen with which I write appears to be full of ink where previously I was concerned that the ink would run dry. The room tickled memories long past with a hint of familiarity. Having no urge to find food or relief, I strode into the hall outside the room only to find more rooms lining the hall identical to the room I exited. I followed this seemingly endless hall with its limitless supply of identical rooms until it opened into a courtyard. Snow covered the ground and was lightly falling yet I did not feel the chill nor could I see my breath. My slightly worn boots left no tracks as I crossed the courtyard toward the stone archway on the opposite side. As I neared the archway –seeing no sign of life or even inhabitance, I felt an urge to move quickly and so proceeded. Opposite the arch was a solid stone wall. To the left of my position was a stairway (likewise hewn from stone) descending into darkness. Here is where I sit, upon a stone bench conveniently located just across from the stair as if this place knew I would pause before continuing on. I am gripped with such a fear of the darkness below. Considering all that I have seen, the extent of my horror is inexplicable. I cannot turn back for something beyond my understanding compels me to move on. Despite that compulsion, my fear will not allow me to continue. Looking back through the archway, I see that the snow has stopped falling and appears to be melting. I can nearly make out the gray stone that was just moments ago blanketed in white. I can see through the archway yet something in my mind tells me I may not pass through again. The bench, the stairs…those terrible escorts into something beyond fear or reason. Beyond the bench is an alcove –empty save a gas lantern that hangs from a chain in                               J. R. Wagner

the center. I do no fear this alcove yet see no reason to explore what is obviously a fruitless task. So, I sit nervously twitching my right leg and casting my eyes from archway to alcove to stairs. Now is a fine opportunity to visit my tearoom and begin a new conversation. If this were the last entry and I was fortunate enough to pass this along to my children, an impossibility, I am well aware –but we have delved into this fictitious discussion and I hope to be able to indulge the question. To my dear children –the loves of my life, the lights in my day, the stars in the darkest of nights. You already know how much I love you. I’ve said it as often as possible during your all too brief time together in this world. I believe the question best asked is what would I like to pass on? I believe one lesson that may be taken from my daily actions is simply persistence –never give up. Endure. Grab hold of what you believe and see it through to the end. Will it be hard? Yes. If it isn’t, then perhaps you haven’t gone as far as you need. Second, love fearlessly. Will you be hurt? Yes. But such is life when it comes to life and a loveless life is a life –but one without the greatest experience it has to offer. Loving someone requires patience, resolve, fortitude and the willingness to compromise. Let go the small battles in exchange for a more peaceful life together. Revel in your partner’s victories even if they come at your own defeat. Noise; an echo? Something at the bottom of the stairs? A terror in the depths beckoning me forth? The bloodhound stands, scratches –extending his front paws and arching its back. He then circles the hearthrug three times before laying back by the fire. Frozen by fear, I wait. REDROOM START HERE The fifteenth of August, The year is unknown Time passed as I sat on the cold stone pondering the whyfor’s and the whithertoo’s of my dilemma. As I waited, watching the moon rise through the archway, I felt need for nothing. Neither food nor water nor other want associated with being human. The steps continue to beckon while my fear pushes me away. The alcove has gained interest albeit the only interesting thing in my purgatory. I believe I shall take the few steps necessary to reach my desired destination. My only concern is that I must pass the stairs in order to reach the alcove. I realize the irrationality of my fear. Un founded, unjustified, yet the fear remains. Compiling this fear is the

                              J. R. Wagner

knowledge that with each word I write, not only am I more of a coward, but also more of a disappointment to those I’ve sworn to honor by completing my task. I stand. My legs are surprisingly limber despite being seated for such an extended period. In fact, the pains throughout my body that have ailed me on a consistent basis for as long as I can remember seem to be gone. The moonlit courtyard through the archway is now snow free. I turn and look at the gas lantern hanging in the middle of the alcove. It sways slightly –or perhaps the shadows cast from the flickering light of the burning gas feigns movement. Despite avoiding direct eye contact with the stair, I can feel it burning into my periphery as I take a step closer –like stepping down a hall with a roaring fire on one side except rather than heat, it emits a sense of emptiness. I quickly retreat to my bench and take a seat. The falling of water droplets echo from some cavernous hall deep within the earth. My breathing, my heart are both rapidly concussing yet my hands remain still. After several calming breaths, my vital processes come under control. The moon brightens over the courtyard emitting an eerie red glow upon the stone. I glance back at the alcove accidentally catching a glimpse of the stair. Does it emit its own light? By gods, the horror. Have I imagined it or is it real? Do I dare glance again to confirm if my eyes are playing tricks on me? I have little choice. Slowly, I scan the alcove hoping something of interest will catch my attention. Nothing. My heart rate increases as my head slowly turns in the direction of the stair. Out of the corner of my eye, I discern a lightening of the stone surrounding the descent. My breathing increases. I closed my eyes, gripping the stone bench with my free hand. Into the tea shop I quickly went-retreated would be a more suitable word. Outside, the afternoon sun shone on the cobbled street. The flowers in the window box stretch to reach past the shadow of the building and into the late-day rays. A couple sits in the corner of the room having a severe discussion. The man, at least thirty years her senior, appears at ease compared to the woman. I smell pastries cooking in the small wood oven –some sort of berry by the smell of them. Drip, drip, drip echoed from below. My very bones shook from inside my flesh. I stood, resolute, determined to take action. Should I survive, you shall hear from me again. Mere minutes have passed. My chest pains from the beating of my heart. I sit now in the alcove, a pool of vomit splayed in front of me. The breathing has slowed along with my heart rate yet the pain in my chest remains. The acidic taste will not clear from my mouth despite repetitive attempts to spit the remnants onto the ground. I just regained sight having blacked out as I entered the alcove. I’m embarrassed to

                              J. R. Wagner

report, my pants are also out of sorts –dampened from the evacuation of my bladder. I remember sprinting toward the alcove. As I passed the stair, I felt such a surge of energy-negative energy, which pulled my life force from my body toward the darkness. The energy, along with my ability to ambulate rushed away allowing only momentum to carry me forward into the alcove where I fell to the floor in a heap. It did not take long to regain my vision and here I lay, a pathetic excuse of a man yet somehow still driven to honor those whom I love. Leaning my head out around the edge of the alcove peering down the corridor, I notice the sun begins to rise. East obviously sits opposite the archway for the golden shadowless outline spilt across the stone floor. I stand. The moisture sticks my pants to my leg. Something inside me pulls me forward. I try to fight against it but am powerless. Fear causes my body to tremble with each step. I fight against the pull but find I am no longer in control of my movements. I reached the stair and fought to close my eyes. Cowardly as it appears, I have little choice, as fear was the emotion –the only emotion I could manifest. A sound –a terrible sound echoed from the depths before all went dark.

                              J. R. Wagner

The Lost Journal Volume 7  

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy. A serial (ongoing) story of a man who discovers fate is not ready for him to leave the dystopian world in which...