north americaeurope


the last lament of the sun
shamir nandy
page 02:09

Even now she could imagine it, it wouldn't be that hard to slip back into unconsciousness. Lucia thought about it for a moment, and the embracing darkness seemed so soft , so right. Somewhere in her fractured mind a solitary thought screamed out, but it only trickled down through her consciousness as a hoarse whisper.


Lucia opened her eyes. Staring almost straight up, she could nevertheless see the ruins of the great temples, starkly outlined against the burning sky. It should have been night now, but the broken city burned with an all-consuming rage, and titanic tongues of fire leapt into the sky. It hung low upon her, heavy with the soot and ash not just of wood, but of thousands of burning corspes. She could taste the blood in the air, a thick coppery taste that threatened to suffocate her. Above, the sky continued to blaze into new life as she saw what was left of the poor quarter go up in the distance. They couldn't afford stone, and soon the fire surged to a killing life, and the west was aglow as she had never imagined it could be. Tendrils of orange and red crept across the oppressing blanket of darkness, washing the city in an inconstant ochre glow.

She closed her eyes again, but the insistent whisper was still there. She tried to push it down into nothingness, but it wouldn't leave her. She began to see images, and suddenly she began to remember.


Lucia's eyes flew open as she realized what she was holding. She struggled up, her left hand slipping in something, and her right bringing Gally's unmoving body to her breast. She opned her mouth to scream, and then realized she could feel his small body labouring for breath against her. Lucia wiped his dirty face with her free hand, and was astonished to see the swath of crimson it left across his face. As her mind slowly began to reform, she looked around, slowly comrpehending what she was seeing. She heard someone break into tortured screaming in the distance, or at least that's what she thought. It might have been her.


She woke suddenly. There was no other way of waking, these last few days. She dimly remembered another life, when waking was a gentle transition, and she would slowly ease her way out of her dreams and into a reality of colours. The only reality was drawn in black and red now, and her only dreams were nightmares. There was no transition anymore. In one nightmare she slept, in the other she ran.

It took her a moment to remember where she was, and she reached for Gally, before remembrance came thundering back. She was alone, but at least he was safe. She could make out the ruins of the solarium she had slept in, as a dim light had intruded within. Without making a sound, she moved her head quietly. She saw a muted reflection on one of the inner walls, no doubt thrown off by a torch in the street. It wasn't the light that woke her though; it was the sound of horses. They were near then, only they had animals. At least, animals that weren't human. She didn't want to listen but she couldn't help herself. She strained her ears, and she could make out the faint sound of a civilized voice, broken by sobs and sniveling. She could see it now, she had a hundred times before. A man kneeling before them on their horses, his toga soiled and more pink now than anything. Snot and pus running down his face, as he fell to his knees in futility.

She heard the next sound before it hit her ears, a wet thud, and a scream.

She saw the blunted and chipped axe falling, it's dark blade stained with fresh blood. It always came down quickly, and barely seemed to slow as it bit into the limb of its victim. It was always a limb, everything else was too fast. It would continue its stroke, leaving an almost beautifully spaced trail as the perfectly formed droplets of blood took flight from its arc. The weapon would come to a rest after the stroke, and the finely scattered trail would become a pool, which would find its way to a river. The new streets of the city, paved in the most priceless of stones.

She almost believed she could hear the quiet thump, over the screaming and laughing. The screaming became desperate, and she tried to shut out the sounds, but she couldn't shut out the vivid strokes of remembrance screeching across her eyelids and through her body. She felt the muted sizzle followed by the sickening stench of burning flesh. The flat thud of meat hitting stone, and the disconcerting pause before the metallic hiss of chains, or the rougher sound of rope. Then always laughter, and the sound of horses. And always her crying, softly. So softly no one ever heard, except for her. And the city, of course. The city was a symphony of tears. At least Gally had escaped it, at least he was free.

She sat there quietly for a few minutes, considering. Was it safer, she wondered, to stay here, or perhaps to move on? Night may be comforting, but it was never safe. She wasn't allowed the luxury of fire, and the moivng through the fallen city was a thousand times more dangerous in the dark. Lucia considered it for a moment. There was really no reason to move, they hadn't seen her. If anything, it was best to stay here. Having found one citizen in the area, would they really expect another so close? Would they really care? Or would they assume he wasn't alone? Lucia figured it was most likely the latter. She decided to stay in the ruined solarium regardless. Besides, maybe she wanted to be found. It would end this travesty of a hunt once and for all. And of course, Lucia had her own weapon, far more deadly than any of theirs. She coughed once, and spit between her teeth. Yes, let them come. She wouldn't be the only one to die. Almost smiling, she let sleep find her again.


She screamed for what seemed like hours, until her voice was sore, and she could feel blood in her throat. Gally still hadn't stirred. She knew he wasn't sleeping, just hurt. She felt guilty, but she was thankful. This was the last place on earth he should have to see. Lucia knew he wasn't hurt she had survived, he must have too. If Gally didn't live through this, than she wouldn't either. She looked around again, this time prepared. She still couldn't help as her stomach released itself, and the acidic vomit sprayed out through her clenched teeth, laced with blood, and something.