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Black Feathers ( 1/2)
original work
Author:
setsunadiava
Rating: PG
Notes:this is a trial of what i am actually aiming for, its based on degrading environmental condition and i'm not very sure about the angst level....please bear with it and forgive any mistakes and thank u for reading.
Summary: the earth was dying, and so was his will to live on.

Black Feathers         

 

Prologue

 

I can’t sleep any more. Every time I close my eyes I am assaulted with terrible images. There would be people dying left and right all around me, their lives being taken away as if it were worth nothing.

There would be fire and hail falling from above and showering down upon the earth below… but all it ever hit was the race we have come to know as the kings of the earth, the human species…

The smell of smoke and burning flesh wakes me, and I can’t go back to sleep.

It seems like some ominous warning, there had to be something out there that was telling me about it through my dreams… if only I knew what it was then maybe I can do something…I've never been one to believe in the supernatural but…

What is it that I have to do…?

Is there a purpose to my dreams or are they only plain nightmares…?

I don’t know when it began, but I have lost my appetite, I don’t sleep anymore, I am becoming weaker and weaker every day… I'm sick and tired of every thing, of life…

Nothing seems right anymore.

I sit outside at nights and watch the stars; it feels like they are mocking me… the moon looks like it is laughing at me…

It seems that I have gone mad… but deep within my soul I can feel it is all true… and that I am not hallucinating…

The trees seem to be talking to me… the sway of their branches and the rustle of their leaves…all seem like a way of talking to me… like they are accepting me as one of their own… my own thoughts seem absurd and mad to me…

I wonder if I have truly lost it… because it feels like the clatter of rain outside is the earth’s tear drops falling… I think I hear the earth crying…

When I see wood being chopped I throw up, the sight of canned food makes me nauseous… its becoming more and more absurd. When I hear the resonance of raindrops on my roof I think I hear the earth screaming…and I feel my gut wrench….

I hear a voice… in my mind… it calls out to me… it calls me by my name and yet I do not know what I hear… its all a distant lull, a drone in the back of my mind I cannot dismiss and I cannot comprehend…

I don’t know what's going on anymore; perhaps I don’t really want to know about it…

 

 

 

 

Year: 2500 AD

Place: FORMER INDIA, GANGTOK, SIKKIM.

 

There was an old tree at the center of the forest; they said it was at least five hundred years old. It was magnificent. There would be flowers in bloom every year at spring time. The scent of these flowers was just magnificent. The lush green leaves swayed in the breeze like it was dancing…

Brad Flowride came to see this very tree everyday, it was like an old friend to him, he had seen this tree ever since he was a five year old toddler. This tree had seen him grow up through good times and bad times for fifteen long years. To Brad this tree was like a living person. It was a part of his life.

And today he had arrived at the center of the forest like he always had for the past fifteen years, the rhythmic rustle of leaves felt like a verbal greeting to his ears.

“How are you today?” he asked it.

 The leaves just rustled in response.

Brad sat down at the foot of the tree.

A few petals of the light purple blossoms fell around him. He caught a single petal. He always felt at peace when he stood there under the tree. It felt like having a roof over his head that would keep him from all harm. He talked to the tree as though it understood his every word, and if you asked Brad he'd say, the tree did indeed understand him, and that it even responded to what he had to say…

“I see… the world really has changed… hasn’t it?” Brad said thoughtfully. “Yes, it really has changed.” He looked up the darkened sky. “The sky can no longer be seen…” he said. “In fact, I have never seen it myself… only in images and holograms…”

He looked up at the tree. “How is it that you still bloom? The other trees don’t… not any more at least…” he told the tree.

“But you are special. Aren't you?” Brad asked it.

More petals fell around him and Brad smiled at it. “You really do understand me. Don’t you?”

Brad’s eyes were blue… they said that the sky used to be blue fifty years back. They said there used to be birds that actually flew in the sky back then… that there were so many more kinds of animals that lived on this now so desolated earth. That the water was pure enough for animals to survive in it… but not any more… the earth was much too polluted for any thing but the toughest to survive along side the humans who had polluted the earth and continued to do so… Brad wondered if the chain would ever be broken….

“I wish I could have seen the world about a hundred years ago…” Brad said wistfully. “But that’ll remain a dream forever… but I'm not too upset because I have you, don’t I?” he added. “Even the sky looks brighter around you …”

Brad closed his eyes and stayed quiet for a while. Then there was a loud clash of thunder. It was going to rain soon.

“Is it true that rain was welcome all those years back?” Brad asked.

The leaves moved in a gentle rhythm.

“I see you must have loved it too then…” Brad replied as though the tree had spoken to him. “But now the rain drops hurt…”

It was true. The fusion of the rain drops with the dozens of gases in the stratosphere made the once welcome rain water, man’s worst nightmare. The droplets destroyed crops and plants, some cases were so bad that even people died after being battered down by acidic droplets of rain water…

“I must be leaving now, it’s due to rain. But I promise to be back by tomorrow.” Brad said as he stood up and dusted his clothes. He patted the tree trunk. “Take care.” He added tenderly.

 With that he jogged out through the forest. He didn’t see the small purple flowers light up in a brilliant array of lights and the leaves and branches sway in the wind as though it were dancing… the slight jingle of bells in the air could have been a song… or a curse….

The clouds broke in a rapid outburst of rain drops. The leaves of the trees of the forest fell victim to the unforgiving acid as they all dropped to the forest floor in defeat to the destruction man had brought about onto nature and himself.

The lone tree that blossomed at the center of all the devastation continued to sway merrily as though it were unaffected by the chaos around it. Its tiny purple flowers beaming and radiating as if it were a perfect sunny day… the acid raid fell over it but never actually hit its leaves or its pretty blossoms…Brad had said it was a special tree and it was, but Brad had no idea just how special it was….

As the sky darkened the tree could be seen with fluctuating glow of a soft red color and the rhythm would seem like heartbeats… what was developing and growing within the magnificent tree was what no one could have ever imagined. In this world where man cared only for himself, where there was no love for the next human let alone the nature around them, who would have possibly imagined that an avatar of the earth’s anger and hurt because of man’s selfishness would be born to take vengeance on all those who had oppressed it? The human species had forgotten their place; they had forgotten that they were not all powerful and that there was a force that could tear them out, a force so strong that they would only be able to watch the destruction around them as the nature took out the full brunt of its wrath on the general of human species.

And yet there was hope, if only man would amend his ways…

 

                                                            ****

 

It was late by the time Brad got home. He stopped outside his house thoughtfully. He lived with his seven year old brother, Vincent Flowride, his family had all been killed during the third world war, also known as the nuclear disaster, six years ago, as lakhs lost their lives and the world suffered a crushing blow to its economic development. The world was lucky that it hadn’t been sent back to the Stone Age.

However the situation was so bad that Brad thought that the Stone Age would have been better than this, anything would have been better than this…

Vincent was his treasure, the only one of his blood left alive… no, Vincent was the only one he saved… it had been a very selfish decision… but what could he have done? He only had enough time to save one person and he had chosen his half brother… not his mother or his own blood brothers…

He wished he could have given his brother a hope to live on, but this world was so depressing that the idea of a good life and a bright future was so far away that it was almost laughable. But Brad was sure that there was hope. There was a chance they could save what was left of this dying world if they tried. If the humans could destroy then they most certainly could rebuild what they had destroyed… if only they cared about it enough… although Brad was starting to have doubts about it… he had sent so many petitions to governing bodies but to no avail… they had all turned corrupt only wanting to gather riches on this dying earth and rob it of the very few resources it had left… everything seemed corrupt now…

The innocence was all dying away just as the newborns were dying away as the polluted air suffocated them… Vincent was a lucky survivor. Death was a very common occurrence to this era. Hope was dead as well as all the love…

Brad walked in.

“I'm home!” he called out into the dimly lit room.

There was no reply. For a moment Brad worried if Vincent had been killed by looters or if he too had fallen victim to the incurable diseases that plagued the earth. But a small child holding a candle in one hand and a stuffed cat in the other padded out from the inner room.

“Hey brat, I'm home.” Brad said tenderly to the child.

Vincent looked at Brad and retorted. “Don’t call me a brat.”

“Why not? That is what you are after all.” Brad asked innocently.

Vincent didn’t look amused but he let the matter slide for once and Brad got worried once again. It wasn’t like Vincent to let such matters go easily…

Vincent looked sad.

“Hey, what's wrong… are you alright?” he asked.

“I'm fine…” Vincent replied.

“Are you sure?? You look depressed to me.” Brad said sharply.

“The last ones died today.” Vincent said.

“Last of what?” Brad asked slowly.

“Didn’t you hear? The last of the crows died today…” Vincent said.

Crows… they were the last of the birds left alive… the only ones able to stand the polluted air and food…there had been a handful of them left in a few zoos… there were probably none left in the wild… Brad had known that they wouldn’t last very long but… it was disappointing to hear…

“That’s sad…” he said.

“Brother, have you seen birds… in the wild?” Vincent asked.

Brad hesitated. Before the war there were quite a few variety of birds around… but almost all of them had been wiped out as an aftermath of that horrible war that devastated many lives… there had been one particular beautiful bird called the nightingale which had a very sweet voice… its species had been hunted down for the sake of its voice box that was discovered to have properties to make one’s voice sweet as the nightingale’s… one had been killed in his own home by his own mother when he was twelve years old… he had hated her for it ever since… perhaps that was why he hadn’t saved her as well all those years back… a woman who could kill such a sweet bird couldn’t fall any lower…

“Yes… yes I have…” he replied.

“Were they as pretty as in the pictures?” Vincent asked eyes wide and hopeful.

Brad’s heart twisted painfully. He wanted to say ‘no, they were even more beautiful.’, but Vincent would never see them with his own eyes so why bother? It was such a pity that they were all gone and all they had left of those magnificent creatures were pictures, holograms and recorded songs…

Just as the blue sky was but a far away dream…

“Yes they were.” He said.

“Oh…” Vincent didn’t ask anymore questions.

“Let’s have dinner, Vincent,” Brad said to kill the silence.

“Yes, lets,” Vincent agreed.

Brad shut the door and the rest of the word away from them for the night. There was a violent clash of thunder and the rain poured heavily. Brad was grateful he had returned early that day. The acid rain was known to kill humans…

He was grateful for the roof over his head. The hoped the tree he adored would be okay although he had seen it had incredible resistance to the man made destructive forces… he would go there to check on it first thing tomorrow. For now all he could do was wait the night out. He had a duty. He had a young child to look after. It wouldn’t do for him to run out at such an hour and leave the child all alone so late in the night…

Brad set the food on the table.

And he felt a sickness in the pit of his stomach. The sight of the canned meat made him feel nausea… he didn’t want to eat anymore… he had a sudden assault of guilt as he remembered how this meat was acquired, he had been ignoring it up to now but today…

He couldn’t possibly not eat, after all food was hard to find. They had to eat to stay alive, even nature agreed with that but this… this was at the price of those animals that were fast on the track to extinction… his mind had flashed of how the goats were mercilessly chopped up while they were still alive for better quality meat… Brad ran a hand through his silver hair. He had never told Vincent of this, the boy would stop eating if he ever found out about it… Brad wondered why he was thinking of all this now of all times…

The thought of how the cans he was using would either be dumped in the ocean or other water bodies made him sick. He was helping the rest of the flock contaminate their already ailing planet… He felt his face flush over with guilt.

“Brother… what’s wrong?” Vincent’s voice brought him back to reality. The boy’s large blue eyes looked scared… why was he scared, Brad wondered, then he realized he was lying on his back on the floor… had he passed out? He sat up and rubbed his sore backside.

“I'm okay, Vincent,” he assured. “I'm just a little tired is all…”

Vincent looked suspicious but kept his doubts to himself…

“But the floor can’t be so comfortable that you want to lie down on it…” Vincent said in a confused tone.

 A child’s mind is so simple, Brad thought, I wish our lives were as simple right now…

“Vincent, will you eat with out me today?” he asked.

Now Vincent looked even more confused.

“Why wont you?” he asked.

“I'm not hungry, will it be okay if I just sit with you and not eat?” Brad asked.

Vincent looked happy with the compromise. Children… So easy to please… if only man was so easy to please, the earth would have been in a much better state…humans were so selfish and demanding, and one day that would cause the end of them someday…

“Brother what are you thinking about..?” Vincent wanted to know.

“Nothing of interest to you, Vincent …” Brad replied.

Vincent looked skeptic but let the matter go.

They ate in absolute silence. The thunder roared outside. Brad felt his insides twist with an unpleasant sensation. The storm felt like some sort of warning to them all… but then maybe he was being too creative.

 

****

 

For the first time in five hundred years it was truly alive. Its body was feeble, weak, and helpless. If it could it would crawl back into the safety of the earth and away from the dangerous world of man where its life would be continuous peril. The rain was unpleasant and it hurt the newly formed skin that covered its frail body…its eyes were like pools of molten silver and the wet hair that fell over its body was just as beautiful and silver, the skin was ivory white…

To any casual observer it could have been an angel thrown down from heaven… and indeed it was as beautiful as any angel… perhaps even more so… anyone who would look at it would be mesmerized by the creature… that is until one looked into its eyes… those silver narrow eyes that was filled with venom and anger… hatred…with fire in them like the very pits of hell and beyond…the demon in its eyes… the monster that beautiful face masked… the acid rain was nothing compared to the anger and resentment it felt inside…

Its wings were black… pitch black like the midnight sky….

The ancient tree behind it began to wither… its once green leaves fell to the ground and the beautiful little flowers fell along with them… the tree once so beautiful was now no better than the rest of the dying trees of that forest….

 

*****

 

Brad wrote what must have been his 50th letter to the current ruling dynasty, the A.S.U., requesting the permission to revive the alternate sources of energy then petroleum and fossil fuels. But as usual his petitions would be turned down Brad knew, after all the alternate sources cost more and demanded more care. The new government didn’t have enough care in them to try.

 

****

 

That day Vincent had insisted on going with Brad to see the tree that his brother talked so much about. Realizing he had no choice on the matter, Brad had somewhat reluctantly let Vincent follow him into the forest. Even on his way there Brad wondered if it had been a good idea to let Vincent go with him to such a dangerous place…

The entire forest looked naked Brad wasn’t surprised. The acid rain was sure to devastate anything in its path. It was no wonder that this forest too met the same fate. But the Brad was sure that his special tree wouldn’t have share the same fate as the others. After all it had survived the worst of the showers…

Its leaves would be green and beautiful, and its flowers would be in the glory of its full bloom. The distinctive scent of the flowers would still be there, and it would intoxicate him with its richness. Brad froze, the scent should have reached him be now… but all he could smell was the rotting stench of dead leaves. Why was that? He began to worry. His feet picked up pace, beside him Vincent gave him a confused look.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

“Nothing.” Brad lied. But he didn’t slow down. He was worried about that tree he was so attached to…a few yards away and he could see that there was something wrong with the tree.

“What is it brother?” Vincent asked when Brad stopped suddenly.

“Vincent wait here a while. I’ll be right back.” Brad replied. “Don’t go off by yourself, okay?”

Vincent nodded vigorously not questioning Brad’s decisions.

Brad nodded sharply, satisfied with Vincent’s answer.

He walked rather quickly towards the place where his precious tree was…he stopped dead in his tracks, it wasn’t the fact that his tree was stripped, naked and devoid of any flowers or leaves, it wasn’t that that tree looked no better that the rest of the trees there…

There was a person lying in front of it… It didn’t look human at all. Its hair was silver and its skin was ivory…Brad wanted to touch it. His body felt stiff as he couldn’t move towards the creature. Its beauty was mesmerizing. It made his heart sink…

Then Brad realized he had never known what beauty was till then, what it was to fall in love at first sight, a feelings so strong it made him want to die. It hurt.

Then his breath stopped for a while.

It had black wings not just black. It was Pitch black, just like the midnight sky… then its eyes slid opened slowly… and its eyes were silver…just like its hair… it this was an angel then it was much like a demon, and if it was a demon it was far more beautiful than any angel he had ever seen, it this was death then it was too beautiful…

It was so beautiful and it felt much like looking at the tree he adored all the time…

His eyes met its. His heart froze. Its eyes were full of hatred. It was like looking into two chips of ice that was rimmed with fire at the edges… its luminous wings fluttered weakly…it tried to get up but fell back down in a pathetic heap again. Brad just stood there captivated by the creature’s beauty. His senses were intoxicated by its presence…

Its hair cascades down its body and Brad was lured to its side like a moth by a candle, he reached out towards it, its eyes flared up as he tried to touch it, there was fury in its eyes, Brad suddenly realized it had a huge presence that made him feel like he was drowning in an ocean, made him remember that he was just an insignificant speck of dust in the huge stretch of space and that his existence had no real importance.

Then its eyes drooped shut… and its body became limp…Brad touched its small shoulders. It was cold like death…there was a petal on its body. It was a small and purple petal…

 

****

Vincent ran to him as soon as he walked out of the forest, then stopped in his tracks when he saw the slender form Brad held in his arms.

“Brother… who is that?” he asked looking suspicious.

Brad blinked. Who was this really? This beautiful creature who was neither male nor female, who was this…?

“Let’s go home Vincent,” Brad said not answering the original question. After all he didn’t have the answer to that question…

“It has black wings…” Vincent said as his eyes widened in fear.

Vincent had a good reason to be scared. Brad reflected how he was wary of it as well. For all its beauty, it felt like an unexploded bomb in his arms….

 But still he was taking it home with him, to tend for it, had he gone mad?

But he felt it in his heart that he should, that creature felt very much like the tree he had grown so attached to through the years…

Perhaps he was being paranoid, but then he had been paranoid for a long time now.

“Let’s go home. Vincent,” Brad repeated sternly. The forest seemed creepy now. Like some kind of wicked burial ground.

He wanted out of the death like grounds that he was on. Vincent hesitated but started after him regardless.

Satisfied that Vincent was following him Brad made a quick beeline out of the once welcoming forest.

He didn’t stop till he was within range of his house.

“Brother… the sky looks darker…” Vincent observed.

Brad looked up and indeed it was much darker than it usually was. It looked a foul kind of dark… an omen of something dangerous that was going to happen….

For some reason Brad remembered the dreams he used to have…the ones filled with war and blood, the ones where the earth could be seen covered in blood…

Brad shuddered. The end of the earth was most definitely NOT here. Not yet at least… it must be his delusion… but if that was the case then what was the creature in his arms? The one with silver hair and eyes and black wings as well…

“Vincent lets go in shall we?” Brad asked.

Vincent nodded and scurried into the house as quick as he could, as if he just wanted to be away from the being with black wings… black wings signify death, Brad thought, was this angel of death? And y was it where that tree grew… like it was born there overnight…

If he was a normal man of this era he would have sold his soul and given the creature away for money, if he was even remotely normal he would have kept such things away from him at arms length. But as it was he was far from normal. Perhaps he was stupid as well…

Brad put he creature down o the bed. He slumped on the seat next to it.

“Who are you…?” Brad asked it. “What are you?” he added after some thought.

The long lashes fluttered and silver eyes slid open…

This time those eyes were calm. It seemed to be studying him intently.

“You’re the one who came to see me every day when I was a tree.” It said.

When it was a tree..? Brad thought. Was a tree… that I visited?

Then it clicked.

“You’re that tree in the center of the forest…” he realized at ling last.

Its head dipped in a nod. “Yes I am.” It replied.

“Who are you then?” Brad asked.

The creature looked confused. “Who am I…?” it repeated.

“You don’t know who you are?” Brad asked.

It nodded its head. “I am the avatar of the earth.” It said firmly.

“Do you have a name?” he pressed.

“Name..?” it repeated

“Okay…” Brad said slowly. “What should I call you?” he asked

“That is your wish.” It replied.

“Do you want a name?” he asked.

It frowned, and then nodded slowly, “to have a name would be nice.” It said.

Brad thought about it a while, but before he could think of a name for it another question caught his attention.

“Your wings are black.” He said.

The being looked disappointed. “They used to be white.” It agreed

“Why are they black now?” Brad asked.

It smiled and Brad’s heart stopped at his sheer beauty of it.

“Because they have sinned too much, the humans have,” it said.

Brad’s body felt cold. It was true. He couldn’t deny it. But he was a human too. He had to change the topic…

“Why were you born?” he asked.

“Because the earth is wishing for a change,” It replied. “It wants to see the sky again.”

It touched his face. “The sky used to be blue, just like your eyes.” It said.

“Do you eat? Brad asked hurriedly to change the atmosphere.

“no.” it said simply

Brad looked out.

“So what is it that you plan to do?” he asked.

“I don’t know yet,” it frowned. Its wings opened up. “I will know when the last of these fall. Then the earth will decide,” it gestured towards its lucid feathers. “Until then I will wait.”

The next day Brad found a black feather on the floor.

.
on to part 2
 

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