I was flying. I was flying above the clouds in the sky. Was I a bird? When did I change into this? Did I have wings all along? Or was it one of the hidden talents that all our elders boast about? My head hurt. This was all too bizarre.
I looked behind me; there indeed were translucent membranes. So this was what birds felt like. I looked down. There was a stretch of land beneath me; everything looked so small. No man or woman was visible. What I saw was beautiful and articulate; not like a painting but more like an ant hill set on fire. Everything was a blur, things were moving so fast.
I looked in front of me and to my sides. I could see clouds and birds, scores of them. It is winter and they were obviously migrating. I smiled as I recollected the times I had moved around the country with my family. Migration is a funny concept.
This got me thinking. Why was I flying? Where was I? Who am I? Last I remembered was me having dinner with my family. I vaguely remember having spaghetti for dinner followed by ice cream. I remember sitting on my lawn chair thereafter staring at the sky.
A sudden pang of pain shot up my head, an unbearable pain that seemed to shred my head into pieces. I could see a white light streaking past me, closely followed by a brighter red light. They zoomed past me into the night. I blinked twice to make sure I wasn’t imagining things. I was flying and for some reason, streak of lights in the sky is the thing I can’t seem to wrap my head around. My eyes started watering as I strained to follow these bulbs of light. Are they birds? Why are they so bright? Curiosity is a pointy-edged weapon. I decided to investigate. The birds had flown quite afar, I started following them.
Soon, I realised, unless I flew faster, I couldn’t reach them. I had a challenge, how exactly am I controlling this? Is there an accelerator of some sort? How exactly are these wings propelling me? I moved my arms around. On a better day, I’d have laughed at myself, the way I was flailing about. I started fluttering wildly in various directions with every wave of my hand. Soon I realised the direction has to do with the way I wave my hand. That made sense since it is almost like gliding. I remember reading about something like this in a paragliding article in a magazine. So waving my arms shifts my direction, what would happen if I move my hand backwards or forwards? I found myself wondering. I jerked my arm forward in a punching fashion. Soon I realised, for all the choices I made in life, that one wasn’t exactly the smartest. I went zooming ahead, faster than a jet, so much so that I felt my consciousness fading, quickly almost by reflex, I pressed my arms down, I quickly slowed down.
I gathered my bearings and looked ahead. I could see the beings that I had been following, closer to me now quite clearly. “Oi! stop!” I called out, hoping they would stop and talk to me. Wait, are these not birds? Since when did birds understand English? I snickered at my own foolishness.
“It’s rude to call out someone older than you in that crude manner, boy”, a smooth cold voice beaconed. This harshly pulled me out of my mirth filled thought chain. Who had just talked to me? A chill ran down my spine as I looked around for the source. “Look above you, child. You aren’t the brightest, are you?” The cold voice remarked.
I looked up in a daze, what met my eyes was something that left me open-mouthed. What flew alongside me was a being that looked so majestic; it almost felt like something out of a science fiction article. The being was clad fully in black; dark shiny black. It looked like a harpy. Red flame surrounded its extremities. Soft pale skin so white that it would belittle even the moon; an mouth that seemed amused at my open-mouthed admiration and an eye that did not share that sentiment. The eye, it felt as if the eye was a bottomless pit sparkling red with the reflection of the flames; it had a clever gleam. Looking at it convinced me that I would get lost in it; I quickly looked away.
“It is rude to stare at someone who addressed you” She said. I quickly recovered from my daze and barely managed the words “What… I mean, who are you?”
Still amused, she responded “Kakos Kolasis”, obviously proud of her name; as if certain I would have heard of it.
“Kakos? That’s a funny name, it’s so small, something I would name a parrot” I said, trying my best not to laugh. But the being didn’t seem to mind. She just looked at me with an expression of deep pondering. “Sorry, did I offend you?” I said, wary to displease her.
“What? No, never mind. I was thinking if you would be the right person” She said, still staring at me with those shadowy eyes gleaming red from the flames.
“Right person for what? Is there something I can help you with? Who are you chasing? Is that one of your people?” I said, getting intrigued. “One of our “people”? There is just me and her, but she seems to get younger by the day. I can’t catch up to her. She has a talisman that belongs to me; that thief”
“That can’t be good. Do you want my help getting it?” I asked, politely. “Can you?” She asked, visibly surprised.
I slowly punched forward, enough to give me a good burst of speed. Soon I had almost caught up with the white bird. Now that I was this close, I found out that she wasn’t exactly white. She was pale yellow in color. She was so bright, her face was hidden from me by a thick layer of hair, but I could tell she was just as beautiful as Kakos. I realised I was getting dazed again, I had work to do.
“Wait. Stop and give me back the talisman.” She looked back and flew faster, and away from me. I followed suit, increased my speed as I shouted out “Stop running. I don’t want to hurt you, just give me back her stuff”. She stopped suddenly, much to my surprise. I struggled a little, but I stopped next to her, giving me a full view of her, she was pretty, like something out of a painting, I was sizing her up, taking in her beauty. “The eyes are up here, boy” She said enough to startle me. I realized I might have been looking her in a way weird even by human standards. “Who are you? Where are you from? Why are you running from Kakos?” I asked, sheepishly, hoping she’d stop giving me that stern look.
She complied; she stared into the sky, and said “I am Kalos Ouranou. I am from the past. I wanted to keep this talisman safe, so I am running away with it”
Okay, that seemed reasonable; not her name, the name was just as funny as the other harpy’s. But she wanted something that belonged to Kakos, and wanted to keep it safe. How very human. Understanding this didn’t make it any right, so I said “That is fine, but isn’t taking something that is not yours wrong?”
She held that thought for a few moments. Moments go by faster here, I noticed. “Depends on your perspective, really, what do you think I should do?” she said and after sighing deeply added ”What if I give this to her and something bad happens?” She seemed in doubt, like she was afraid of hurting someone, or something. The conflict of feelings were clear on her face, she was torn. I felt apprehensive about the whole situation, but I decided to stick to the morality of it and said “Things aren’t always in our control, we can only try our hardest to do what’s right and hope the gears turn in the right direction.” I had wanted to sound confident and moral. None of what was happening seemed real anyways, so doing my best here seemed like the sensible thing to do.
“Alright, I will heed your consult and give this back to Kakos.” She said as she turned back and flew towards Kakos. She looked at me with passion and a gleam that felt like melancholy in her eyes, and gave the talisman to Kakos as both of them flew to me.
“I got the talisman back to you, Kakos. Hope this sets things straight” I said, beaming with self satisfaction. I had done my good deed for the day. Just as I thought of this, the pain in my head intensified to something beyond anything imaginable. “Ah!” I exclaimed as I curled up, cradling my head in my arms. But curiosity is an element stronger than pain, so ignoring the throbbing pain, I asked Kakos, “By the way, where am I, and what is that talisman?”
Kakos let out a laughter so cold, it pierced the night sky. It sounded shrill, yet deep, loud yet calm. “Where this is? Well, this is a world much like yours. We the ancients call it the Stavrodromi. And as to what this talisman is, It is your heart.” She said as she pressed down on the talisman in her fist, and suddenly, everything went dark.
“Ryan, wake up, you’ve been out way too long” I heard someone say as I was being roughly woken up. I got up with a start, and opened my eyes. The sunlight hurt my eyes. I stood up and looked around. I looked down, I found the familiar black-n-white stripes uniform looking up at me. The grey buildings around me, dull and arid. As I walked my way to my prison cell, I found myself wondering, what would have happened if I had not given the talisman to Kakos? I had a decision to make, and I chose wrong. I had given my heart to the devil. Damn it all…
Kakos Kolasis – Evil of the Hell
Kalos Ouranou – Good of the heaven
Stavrodromi – Crossroads
These were Greek words I used to add a mythological touch.