Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Part 4: The Rift

The rift looked something like an ocean, rolling into the distance, growing vast and deep as it reached across the bleak horizon, though at first its waves were more like the shimmer of heat off a hot tin roof. Court looked into the pearlescent distance to see the snowy horizon filled with it. He glanced down, noticing that he was standing in the tide of the rift, just the very beginnings of its waves slapping and gurgling around his heels. A few more steps and he would be willingly walking into the rift, would feel the first pulling of its rip tide, as powerful and deep as the waters of any real ocean. And this rift, this immense phenomena of psychic pain and twisted reality, was for the time being completely invisible to all save Court.

“Nightfall's coming.” It sounded like Adan.

With each step they took towards the palace, the world itself changed slightly. The closer they got to the palace, the more it sunk down into the rift, and the ruins of the homes sank with it. Soon they had the disorientating feeling as if they were marching down a slope, the invisible plasma rising up to the level of their chests, their feet sticking in mud. They could feel there must be a thousand broken swords and pistols beneath their feet as they walked the uneven ground. Surely a thousand brittle skeletons still clung to those weapons beneath the snow and the mud.

The weather grew ever heavier, thick cold dampness seeping rapidly through their clothing. It was difficult to walk, or to move at all. Their boots were now sinking down into the mud. It became more like swimming than walking, as the daylight grew dim. The rift had become a mist, rippling over everything, cold and damp.

And now the palace was closer, close enough to see it was a half sunken, broken place. Its pillars rose up from the frothing tide, like thin white arms coming out of the waves, to support cracked palatial domes and archways now frozen over with snow and ice. The fog slowly lifted, blown away by the snow-speckled winds, and with mild shock they all realized they were wading through real water. Only the cracked rooftops of the houses remained above water, and some of the gate wall surrounding the fortress. Beyond that in all directions, gray snowing skies and an endless dark ocean. It was impossible, and yet here they were, fighting to stay afloat.

Court struggled through the water, tucking his silver pistol into the folds of his hood, which hung dryly at the back of his neck. His black cloak sprawled out in the heaving tide, ten times heavier in the water. The others fared only mildly better, poor swimmers all.

“Get to that house over there!” Court motioned, already on his way.

They reached the crumbling stone walls of a house, dark and watery within. They floated, grasping the frozen stone ledges of the walls for protection from the breaking waves. Looking around at the dark unnatural water, it seemed as if the entire bottom had dropped from under them and was a thousand miles deep. The snow was ceaseless, melting as it touched the misty water.

“What in the name of Hell is this place?” Adan asked, catching his breath.

This is what I feared Court thought, hesitating before saying to them, “It’s a rift...we've crossed Worlds just now. Look back, you see that fog?”

Turning to look back, they could see only rolling fog where the borders of the rift had yet to swallow their living world. The fortress gate lay behind that shroud, in another time and place.

“That’s the gate where we came in.”

“Where did all this damn water come from?” Cael asked.

“I'm not sure. Listen,” Court said impatiently, “It’s like we're drifting in loathing and despair, the froth of war. This is why we're here, to stop it from growing any further. If left alone it will eventually wash over our entire world. You wouldn't want your loved ones drowning in this foulness would you? I think not. So, let's just keep moving.”

“I want to see my wife again, sir. Please.” Adan pleaded between heavy breaths as he clutched at the crumbling stone ledge of the house.

“We'll never get out of here alive.” said Cael through chattering teeth, shaking his head in horrified disbelief.

To be continued....


Anonymous said...

ok it has been a week and I am in suspense to read the next chapter. Could you post earlier then later. Thanks. I dig the book a real insight in the Sci Fi world. I am usually not in to Sci Fi but your name intrigued me.

Krypt0n1@n said...

Sorry for the untimely postings, I am trying to get at least one every week, thanks for the support!