This week's prompt is a picture and it reminded me a bit of The Swamp so I'm writing a Outtake.
Roy was walking in the woods, studying the tall redwood trees, looking for the perfect one. The one that would hold his weight without cracking and turning his suicide attempt into an embarrassing accident that would probably leave him with a broken leg or worse. Of course the leg would take forever to heal and it would probably get infected and kill him slowly and painfully. That was the nature of HIV after all, wasn’t it? It turned the body’s attempts at healing into a joke. The thought was almost enough to turn Roy Lestrange away from his quest. But no, fuck that; he wasn’t waiting around for the grim reaper to take him slowly and painfully. He didn’t want to hang around until his the skin diseases had the whole town knowing exactly what was wrong with him; maybe shouting ‘fag!’ as he passed. He wasn’t no fag. He didn’t even understand how he’d gotten the disease. All doctors were liars. And that bloody scary witch his mother had taken him to, who’d confirmed the diagnosis was a liar too.
Suddenly the sun came out, bathing the glade where he was in magnificent light. It was heartbreakingly beautiful and Roy wanted no part of it. How could such beauty exist amidst the ugliness suffusing his soul right now? Why hadn’t this darkness killed him already? Or at least overshadowed the light so that he didn’t have to remember that there was more than disease and sickness in the world? He slumped to the forest floor, leaning his head back against a vast redwood and looking up into the sky with despair. He howled his grief and rage at the heavens; there was nobody to hear him here after all…
Suddenly his vision began to blur, dizziness overtook him and he clutched his head in confusion.
“What?” he asked nobody in particular, realizing he’d shut his eyes when he opened them again to find a huge, naked, black man peering down at him.
“O hola si?” the man seemed to be inquiring…in a language Roy had never heard before. The man seemed to shimmer in front of him and then turn his head to look deeper into the wood.
“báareende liikeenda” the naked black man said peering into the distance.
“I.don’t.know.what.you.are.saying”, Roy said with angry emphasis.
“Get out of here. The Ageless One approaches”, the man said in perfectly good English. Roy frowned wondering why he had to spout all that foreign shit if he could speak the language well enough.
“Who’s the Ageless One?” he asked. He wasn’t moving just because some naked black man told him to. Suddenly there was an inexplicable mist in the sunny glade and the man he’d been speaking to was just…gone.
“What?” Roy asked no one again looking frantically from side to side. Was the disease giving him dementia already? He’d heard that was possible. Then he heard voices approaching and scrunched himself low against the tree. For some reason, he didn’t want these new guys to see him.
“…Even the slaves are getting restless”, a deep baritone was saying as the shushing sound of feet on leaves indicated that they were coming ever nearer. Roy scrunched lower down against his tree.
“There is nothing to be done but wait Armand. The slaves are restless because they know their freedom might be nigh. Might. They’ve been waiting a long time.” The second voice said. This voice had a lower register than the first, like car wheels over gravel. It also shook with a timbre that Roy had not heard before. If he was a guessing man, he’d say that this one was the ‘Ageless One’ that the big black man had mentioned. Come to think of it, the naked man had been covered with scarring over his scary tribal tattoos. The kind of scarring produced by whipping if Roy remembered his history books correctly. Were these the ‘slaves’ these two beings were discussing? Had he somehow travelled back in time? It was all very disconcerting. Suddenly Roy found that he just wanted to go home to his mama.
He made a small sound which to his dying day he would deny was a whimper and then started when the shuffling on the leaves stopped abruptly. They had stopped walking.
“Did you hear that?” the baritone inquired.
“The whimpering? Yes I did. Nothing to be concerned about. In fact Armand, there is nothing going on right now that need concern you yet. Why don’t you go back to the hospital? Play craps with Bernard and just wait? You will know immediately when they begin to play your song.”
“Its easy for you to say. You haven’t been waiting millennia for this.” Baritone…or ‘Armand’ sounded a little sulky.
“Oh Armand, ever the impatient one. I have this to tell you. Already the signs begin to manifest; and whatever will happen, it will be soon. Your wait is almost over. There. Satisfied?”
‘Armand’ laughed bitterly, “Your idea of ‘soon’ probably doesn’t match other people’s Mama Ruth”, he said.
Armand sighed, “I will go now…because I realise I cannot get anymore from you. One more question though, the Andrewes witches…?”
“Again, my eye is on them and when something happens, you’ll be the first to know.”
“The animals gather outside their shack every night and simply stare. Did you know that?” he asked.
“Armand, the swamp is full of mysterious things. If we wondered at all of them there would be no time to do anything else”, the ‘Ageless One’ sounded tired.
“In other words, you already know why they do that”, he said.
“Go home Armand”, she replied and this time, the tone of command was unmistakeable.
The one called Armand was silent for a bit and then he said, “As you wish, your highness”.
There was a terrible disturbance in the air and then after a time, the birds in the wood began to chirp again. It was then that Roy realised they’d gone silent when the black man appeared. Roy looked around him, searching for signs of danger but all he saw were motes of light dancing on the leaves.
“I need to get out of here”, he murmured to himself as he hastily got up and got moving.