Behind the Dark Curtain
My eyes flutter open slowly, and upon awakening I have no idea where I am. I lie for a few minutes, trying to remember something, anything, but I canít. Not where I am, not who I am, or what Iím doing in bed with my clothes on. Everything is dark, save for a faint light coming from outside the window. Pulling myself gently into a sitting position against the headboard, I gaze over the darkened, hollow room, and a cold chill runs through me. An evil chill. A desolate chill. My eyes continue to wander, my mind dull and numb, and I try to make some sense out of the non-sensible. Hugging myself, I try to stave off the cold feeling in me, but it does little good.
I recognize the place Ė my bedroom, in our condo Ė but itís not right. Nothing is right here. Everything is destroyed. The walls are streaked with dirt and have holes in them where the drywall is crumbling apart; the furniture is broken and knocked over. I see a picture frame dangling crooked on a nail on the far wall above a chest of drawers Ė the glass is smashed, half still in the edges of the frame and half piled in chunks and slivers on the split surface of the chest below it. It looks as thought there were pictures in the frame at one time Ė many of them, in a collage Ė but they are all gone now, having been burned, from the looks of the soot and shreds of curled paper that remain tucked into the photo openings.
A blinding flash of lightening startles me to the point of causing me to whimper, and I suck in a deep, frightened breath. Turning to look at the window I see the curtains, shredded and soiled, and they are billowing in wildly as a cold wind blows into the room. The glass of the window has been broken out, and the raging storm that is happening outside is trying to come inside now. Lightening flashes again, making me jump once more, and itís followed by the deep, loud rumbling of angry skies, loud enough to shake the house. The flash illuminates the entire room, creating crooked shadows and highlights in black and white.
Is thisÖ am I home? What happened?
Sliding myself off the bed I wince once more at another flash of lightening, preparing for the inevitable boom that will follow. I can feel it in the floor when it finally comes. Looking down, I can see that the carpet is stained and ripped and torn, and I momentarily look for a pair of shoes to slide on, but I canít find one. Creeping slowly across the bedroom floor and to the hall, the only thing I can hear now, between bursts of thunder, is my own heart pounding in my chest as I wait to see whatís on the other side of the threshold.
As I reach the hallway I find that everything is the same as it is in the bedroom. Dark, cold; everything either destroyed or strewn about. The place has been ransacked. I try the switch for the hallway lights, flipping the toggle up and down a few times, but there is no response. Looking up, I see that the fixture is broken as well, hanging loosely by wires through the hole in the ceiling. The light cover is gone and the bulb is smashed, only the screw part and a few shards of glass remaining in place. Itís at this point that a fear begins to grip me, because I donít remember how things got this way, or what happened, and Iíve never felt this completely alone in my life. Itís so unnerving, I feel like Iím walking in a dead world long since left behind by the living.
Creeping silently down the flight of stairs to the living room, my eyes wide with the horror of everything Iím seeing, lightening flashes again and I startle once more at the shadowy forms in the stairway. There ya go, Duo. A gundam pilot afraid of his own shadow? The rest of the guys would have a field day with that one. Thatís when it all hits me. As I reach the landing and stare out to the wasteland of black and gray and destruction that used to be my house, it returns to me, and I call out, knowing that my call will go unanswered. As if scripted, on the scene of some B-rate horror flick, there is more lightening and loud thunder as the look of realization appears on my face.
No answer. But I knew there wouldnít be an answer, because Heero is dead. Heero is dead, remember?
I cautiously make my way to the front door. Sensing the turmoil raging outside the confines of the condo, I hesitate before opening it. Then garnering my courage, I slowly turn the knob and pull the door open, and my jaw drops as I look out. The entire world, it seems, has gone black. Everything outside looks the same as it does inside. The trees are leafless and broken, creating ominous-looking shapes against a dark purple sky that is repeatedly lit up into blinding white. Torrents of rain pour down, soaking everything, and myself, after I take a few steps out past the doorframe, and immediately the coldness of this place envelopes me, chasing me back indoors. The entire neighborhood seems to be devoid of anything familiar Ė homes, cars, people, lawns and flowerbeds, all the things that were there before Ė and closing the door behind me, I retreat back into the living room, completely terrorized beyond comprehension.
My eyes widen again in fear.
What the hell is going on here?
Shivering from the cold rain that is still dribbling off my soaked form, I stand in the center of the large room, glaring again at my surroundings, trying to make sense of them, but I cannot. Turning slowly, I watch as all sides of the room spin by, seeing that everything around me is this way, and my mind cracks as the first tears spring forward. Another, particularly sharp, bolt of lightening makes me jump, and a hoarse scream escapes my lips this time, followed by total loss of control. Sinking to the dirty carpeted floor, I drop myself to sit indian-style in the middle of the room, which is filled with destroyed and broken furniture and personal belongings, then fold myself up into a tight ball. My arms wrapped over my head in effort to protect me from all of this which I donít understand, I begin to sob, rocking slowly back and forth as the raging storm continues on outside the walls of the condo.
Heero, my mind whispers amidst the crashing of thunder outside, and the splattering of rain that can be heard through all the broken windows. Oh God, HeeroÖwhere are you? Canít you see how this is hurting me, you being gone? I canít get past the pain, HeeroÖitís killing me. Itís killing me. I need you, HeeroÖI donít know whatís happening to me anymore, and I need you to stop all this hurt. I donít want to live with this pain in me forever. Please, HeeroÖif only there was a way. God, this is so stupid, because I know youíre dead, butÖ I sob louder into my lap, and Iím drowned out by the cold wind blowing through the room. If it meant that maybe we could be together again, Heero, Iíd die for you. Iíd die to stop this hurting, Heero. I love you that much.
ďAre you ready to go, Heero?Ē Treize asks with uncertainty in his voice.
I donít answer him. Iím ready. For whatever it is that lies ahead to bring me to Duo. Iím ready.
ďI have to try one more time to talk you out ofÖĒ
ďIím ready. Lets go.Ē
Treize sighs. ďVery well then.Ē He realizes that I am not about to be stopped in doing this, and he is the only one who can lead me where I need to go.
We start off on our journey in silence, neither of us wanting to think about the task that we are setting out to accomplish Ė the unaccomplishable. To reclaim a soul from the depths of Hell. To rescue Duo, and for me to be reunited with him, even if it is in death. Treize leads me through the beautiful forest and wood to the edged of my own perceived reality, and to the point of where I have no perception, and the scenery begins to change. As we now enter his perception and his world, a world of impressive cities and buildings and many, many people going about their daily business, I realize that from this moment on I have no idea, nor any expectations, of what is yet to come. Uneasiness grips me as we continue forward, now crossing over into this more ďurbanĒ panorama before us, and I push it down, reminding myself of the goal in this journey. Reminding myself that I wonít be satisfied until I do what my heart is telling me I have to do, no matter what happens along the way. Failure, I reason, is better than not even trying in the first place, and with that in my head, I follow closely behind my guide.