In a region only traveled by one, at least these last few years, lives a small boy. He lives in what most refer to as the “ruins”. He is the boy who lives among the ruins.
Mana, as he knows himself, darts in and out of the ruins in the morning sun. Looking for this days morsels of nourishment.
The sun heated, persistently causing Mana to be thirsty. The brown dusty building he has as home is the place he can only know, as he only remembers it. Guessing he does a lot and his guess is that he was born some where inside these ruins.
On this morning the skinny scuffed child crouches behind an old column. Large chunks of it’s material gone from various sides and the top completely missing. Mana scans for any new out of place thing that he might discover is food, breakfast. Mana is hungry most of the time.
When he is not searching for food he often explores the ruins. They are extensive and Mana has yet to see all the rooms, crevasses and sections. On and on looking around, sometimes telling himself jokes. Even laughing at himself.
Mana lurks these ruins for reasons he doesn’t know. He sometimes questions but since he has no answers he seldom dwells on questions. It is as if he has accepted this his home and lost or never had desire to change.
Something moves right by his feet. It is a large beetle. He squats and with a single motion catches it and eats it. Beetles he has had before and they seem to fill, if for a while that small place in his stomach.
It is better now he thinks to go to the well an drink. Water fills him and gives him that full feeling. The well has an old inscription on it. Worn by time and weather he inspects it once again. He wants to know what it means.
Mana only knows a little of how to read. Mysteriously he doesn’t know how he knows. Just that he can read some things.
Once he found a comic book and enjoyed it for sometime. But when he wasn’t paying attention it was lost. He looked for it a long time. But still can’t remember what happened to it.
A lot of days Mana thinks to himself in ongoing comment. It involves who he should be and how he should feel. He has no clue but wishes to have some way, person or event to tell him. Mana celebrates no days or times, he is in constant ambiguity. Some days he thinks he hears a celebration in the distance. But he is so afraid of leaving his ruins he never has found out what it really was.
Vague memories sometimes jump up at Mana, usually when he is sleeping. He can stare at the wall when awake and try to recall, but just pieces are there for him. It seems like he doesn’t need those memories anyway. He has day to day eating and slaking of thirst to contend with. But faint calls from within keep him wondering and knowing he is somewhere he might not be if it weren’t for the night.
Long time past it seems, when Mana was younger he recalls one of the darkest of nights. This night so dark that one couldn’t even see his face or hand. And that dark night it seems to Mana he lost something. He really can’t be sure his memory so frail but an inner taunting is clue that he may be right. Could before that long dark night Mana had a family? He isn’t sure. He knows he had to of come from some where.
But that blackness of night which lingers in his memory which can’t be erased, imposes as a giant standing before him. A scary unmerciful, terrible giant. He remembers cries and screams during that night, hearing calls for help, his own pleas for mercy. He couldn’t venture in any direction as in the dark he was like a blind boy. He simply couldn’t see. Afraid to even move this way or that as he might step off a cliff or find himself drowning in water with an unknown depth.
It scared Mana so deeply that he made promises to God just so he might survive this night of nights. Night was long and enduring, painful, as a small boy he couldn’t understand why. He does remember thinking to himself that the sun would soon rise. Soon it would for sure. But on and on went the night. As the night persisted he became cold and started to shiver. He had no blanket even to keep him warm. No others who came to him, lonely, alone and single - his teeth chattering.
Right where he was, was where he stayed. Standing until his legs got weak and he had to sit down. Then laying on his side and rolling into a ball. Sensing some evil thing he turned and turned fearing that evil thing would attack again. Trembling horrid night of terror, cruelty of darkness, unmerciful dread visiting every moment as if they were days. The night’s bleak hollowness created a chasm, a living pit of thick black unknown fright. Mana fell into depths of despair. He feared he would never return to his normal self.
His breath he heard, loud, slow. He listened to the sound it made. His eye’s, as wide as he could manage them to try and see something. Hoping some where he might spot a light, a friendly face or refuge of some kind.
Mana cannot even describe how frightening and painful that never ending night was. How he wondered why no one was missing him, or looking for him or coming to him. He was alone and curled up at the feet of the horror of the giant of the night. Completely at the night’s mercy, which had none.
He remembered thinking how mouse like he was. Thinking he might even be better off being a mouse. Mice can see at night he supposed and they need far less food to be satisfied anyway.
Mana knew something was deeply wrong. No night should last this long. If it did people would just die of the darkness. They would be swallowed up, lost to the night. Maybe they’d go crazy or worse. Maybe that’s what happened, Mana thought. Since he could find no way to stop the night. Perhaps Mana had fallen to insanity.
Thinking he should pray he tried, but the fear gripped his voice and he couldn’t peep a sound. So in his thoughts he prayed. Listening for sounds around him and praying inside. He could almost feel his thoughts, prayers inside his head. Some of them so fast they piled up and made his headache. He bit his nails, and chewed on them. “God. Please God”.
Finally he opened his eye’s to a morning shine. He was frozen stiff from the cold, fear and uncertainty. Slowly he looked around still curled up. Then lifting his head looking left and right. Then sitting up in the place where he had experienced what he could not of imagined before that night of nights.
Strangely he wasn’t hungry right then. Just surveying around him, ruins. Things had changed he realized after a few moments. Trash, broken objects, torn clothe strewn about. Walls broke open with holes, glass shards at the ground where above a window use to be.
Mana didn’t know what or why everything was the way it was. In confusion and stunned surprise he stood and stumbled around. Pain shooting through his back then legs. An itch on his head when touched left blood on his hands. He had been attacked. Just as he feared he recalled. The horrid giant of the night had ravaged his body. Only much later would he begin to suspect that something vicious had also savaged his soul.
Weak, dizzy he walked around. Taking every cautious step, slowly. He thought to himself “this is a real wrecked place”. He felt he couldn’t remember all of the past night, maybe his whole past.
That horrifying, long night of nights was over. Though it’s event past, it left a transforming effect on Mana. He would know first hand what desperate was. What it was to be viciously mauled in mind, spirit and body.
How it is to be unmercifully attacked and have no one come to save you. He thought to himself “no one came to rescue me.” This caused Mana to feel a inner grief that soaked his body like a liquid bloating his insides. Seemingly absorbed into his bones and muscles.
Yes he thought that night of nights was over and he never wanted to experience it again. Mana went about looking through the ruins.
Everyday he would go any where he felt like. Sometimes finding old papers or books. Once he came across a stack of photographs. Each had some person or people. He thought, well made believe that the people in these pictures were his family.
He saw an older woman who surely could be his mother. She was fat and kinda looked scary but friendly. She seemed to him self absorbed, selfish. In the next picture was the image of a man, in a shadowy silhouette. Poised like he was leaving, Mana chuckled that this man was his father. He must of had important things to do. Maybe he was coming back, someday, maybe.
There were others in the photos that Mana imagined were his siblings.
Some were friendly, all were distant images that he could never see clearly, only as blurs. He kept these photos in a place among the ruins. But since there was no structure overhead the rain would get to them. So week by month the photos were fading. Mana would speak to them and say ”don’t go, please.” Also the photos were exposed to the prying rays of the sun. Mana thought the sun was jealous and was causing them to float upwards towards the sun, as the sun’s family.
Mana wandered the ruins day by night as a phantasm. Haunting the rooms and halls with little understanding. At times he wouldn’t even be in question. Other times the urge to know would burst through him as if a great wind penetrating his heart.
Days melted together. Time almost didn’t exist. He only knew that the sun rose and set absent of sound. Light and darkness were cohorts in an ever evolving exchange. As if they were conspiring to hypnotize him for some unknown reason.
Small things caught his eye’s. Maybe his imagination. Torn cloth which he would inspect closely. A button found in the corner. Did this button had significance? Mana wondered.
Sometimes he made up stories or songs to himself. Or fantasias as himself a great ruler of the kingdom of the ruins. Presiding over the minions of nothing, barrenness. He the specter of subjects who are silent, unaware, quiet.
Mana became sad. He started to feel sad like he hadn’t in times passed. Not knowing this kind of melting, no breaking heart, he sat alone on top of the highest wall of the ruins. Watching another red orange sunset, another closing day. Creating long reaching shadows. Drawing across the vast plains of rock and dust. Laying down he slept on top of the wall.
A dream washed over him in vivid colors. He a butterfly going from field to field. Without cause or purpose. He was looking for other butterfly’s to be friends with as he was the only one. He saw magical bees with their families and dragonflies too. But no other butterflies could he know.
A hot day drew him to a pond where he stopped to sip. A wave of water splashed onto him, making his wings wet. Now he was waterlogged and couldn’t fly. He felt paralyzed. Just then he awoke.
It was raining and he was soaked. He jumped from the wall under an overhang. Moving close to a dry place. Then drifting off to sleep once more.
A loud noise woke him and he darted up wiping his sleep worn eye’s. He moved to a hole and peeked outside the ruin walls. There he saw a caravan of people and animals stopping.
People! He smiled. A new emotion for Mana. He didn’t know how long it was since he had seen people. It had been to long. He crawled through the hole in the wall to the outside yard. Then slowly walked towards the caravan which seemed to be setting camp. Several men were grabbing containers and heading towards the ruins, him. They were talking calmly and even laughing a little.
Mana didn’t know whether to hide or run up and say something. He stood on the front yard still as they walked some distance from him slowly passing. Then he realized they were heading for his well.
He ran around the back and looked around a corner. There he saw the men filling their vessels with water from his well. Laughing and joking, these men were dark and dirty, very much like Mana. They each took long drinks and splashed water over their heads. Washing their faces, soaking their clothes squeezing cool water from the fibers.
Mana was silent and stood completely still. He didn’t know if they were friends of his or friends of the night. So many emotions flooded his heart. He wanted so increasingly bad to approach, but he had known to much pain. He withdrew behind the wall and sat down.
He listened and wished he could be a part of the caravan of strangers. He wasn’t apart of them he knew and from his own understanding never could be. So Mana hid inside the ruins.
That evening Mana laid on his back staring at the vast night sky. So many stars, crowds and clumps of them. He was sure there were to many. In the cool air he heard the caravan’s camp alive with chatter. They were talking loudly, giggling. He even heard the whispers. He couldn’t make out all the words but it wasn’t important. Just that they were together and enjoying each other. That was the loudest thing he could hear, and that was until late into the night.
Birds woke Mana as sun rays crept up to his side. He was hungry. Slowly he realized no sounds were coming from beyond the ruins. Remembering the caravan of strangers he got up and looked. Nothing but a smoldering camp with small objects littered around. They had left. With the same astonishing power of appearance, they disappeared leaving behind souvenirs of their visit.
Mana found some bread and bones with small bits of meat on them. He sat eating. Thinking and eating, eating and thinking. His thoughts mostly on how good it felt to eat real food. He was full and satisfied for the first time he could recall.
He walked around all the places they had been. Looking closely at each scrap, every object he found. He now wished he had the courage to speak with these strangers. He looked at the tracks they left behind which disappeared into the distance. They would never return, his chance gone. Now he would be alone forever he thought. Hitting a stick on a rock.
Could he survive alone? Would he want to? How would he? What should he do?? So many questions, absent so many answers. He wondered where did these strangers come from? Where were they going?
Mana came upon a piece of paper, it looked like a portion of some kind of drawing. He looked at it for a long time. Studying it, following the various lines with his finger. In the afternoon he looked at the path, trail that disappeared in to distance. The one the strangers traveled on. At a single jump of inspiration he thought “What if this line on this paper was this trail the strangers passed on?” He started to look at the distant mountains and noticed they could be the mountain images on the paper. In fact what he had found was not a paper with lines on it, but a map.
Now he had begun to understand clearly. He could see a place which, based on the main line and mountains, could be where he was. The Ruins. He could see an arrow pointing to a circle with water drawn in it. The well, his well! Yes he had figured it out. But it was only a partial map because it had torn edges all the way around. It seemed this map led from no where to no where. This made him wonder if he himself was in the middle of no where. It pained Mana to be so alone and lost.
He was silent. Mana didn’t know any more. Worse he didn’t know how to know. The breeze blew with a soft wheeze through the trees and bushes. The sun rays flooding the ground while Mana stood looking one hand over his brow. Scanning the horizon.
He sat under a tree as the sun set once again. Speaking out to God he said “God what are you doing?”.
The answer was the breeze, the bushes and trees and a fly buzzing around and a few small birds flying above.
Copyright 2001 © D.L.B.Grey firstname.lastname@example.org