D A R K D A Y
To all the terrors of the world outside - I hold a light.
F O R E W O R D
by Edward Prima
Whenever a good man is murdered, we must ask ourselves, ‘why?’
Steam lifts off the rock, rising with the moisture of the forest below. A deep crack runs the full length of the cliff face separating the millennia with a reddish band of oxidized iron. Sitting snugly in the safety of this fault, rock-dwelling lichen unfurl the last of their arms to absorb the mists. Pores open, water condenses and the chill of the evening wears off until the air is dry.
Picon’s jail clutches desperately to the cliff with metal rods that strain to hold its heavy walls there. The pink rock sighs as the morning light seeks out its secret places. The day is warm already, wiping away the glistening edges of rock which unwisely overhang. The endless dripping that once tormented imprisoned minds still falls rhythmically from a crevice untouched by the world.
Many hundreds of feet underneath the jail, the Valley of the Gods converges in a dense hole of green. Below this, the ravine floor is dug deeper by the famous River of Blood. Billions of bacteria live in a continuous feeding frenzy amongst the nutrients leaching from the plains above where the old rock and sand wither, unwillingly giving of their life. As a result the river is stained, concealing this world of punishing hunger below its current which progresses between the valley walls and ends by falling below the ground, hiding itself away under the earth.
The violent green of the valley – alien to a planet known for its deserts, squints as the sun rises enough to fully illuminate the cliffs. The jail weaves around one of the vertical rises, hanging between the two worlds, part of nowhere with a view to die for.
Silently, a flock of white birds fracture the sky. They clear the edge of the cliff and descend into the valley to retake their nests. Nothing speaks here; even the insects mute their calls in fear of the surrounds. Despite the beauty, there is something dark in the location of Picon’s Jail. Perhaps it is the way the prisoners can feel freedom through the walls or smell it on the rain as it shatters over the bars of their cells giving life to the walls. Moss spawns in the late summer heat when the excess blood runs; sculpting the walls like the river cuts the valley below. Something not quite natural marks the corner in one of these cells. With a bit of imagination, you can make out the inscription.
Since its desertion, the stains on the walls of the jail have dried, fading with the passing of the sun. The moisture has been soaked hungrily back into the porous façade which screens everything we want most to forget. Rock is a poor custodian of human deeds. Oddly, it is fond of human thought and remarkably permanent in its plot to mock humanity with a question that stubbornly remains etched in its surface, immune to all forms of erosion. I have no doubt that we will be punished for its permanence. Our civilisation shall crack around it and crumble into its whisper.
This I am willing to give you my word on: the skies over the Twelve Colonies will crash as the waves do about the sand while our poor heads search the bleak emptiness of space for an answer. If there is any truth left, it is that our own extinction may come to pass but the question and the monument it serves to human reason, will remain. A man found it worthy in his final hour and with many more breaths than he, we might ponder it just as stubbornly as the rock but find no answer.
Today is the fifteenth anniversary marking the disappearance of the Eighteenth President of The Colonies, Paul Stravos. We cannot say with any certainty whether he is alive, buried from sight or walking amongst us. Despite the lack of facts, we have been left with rumours – smears of truth that, from time to time, drip off the hands of the Caprican government. From the little we have, a shaky truth emerges, forcing us to stumble into the ever darkening world of those last few weeks.
The Colonies have long ago come to terms with the loss of their President – what renews the buzz at this time every year is the mystery itself. I am here to tell you one truth about your lives; you live with a government that is willing to kill to protect its secrets. More than that, they will kill these secrets to protect their lies.
I must confess that the creatures in this story are at best, shadows. Its plot is primly one of whispers passed between those who would listen. However, the truth it contains seeps from these deceitful fabrications to emerge onto the page like the sweet nectar of the gods pooling into the glasses of politicians, intoxicating and pure.