Chapter 8 - Another
Getting up from an experience such as that is not a feat any normal person would be able to achieve. Falling from a rooftop is excruciatingly painful but I can get up just like any other morning once the pain passes. My body is unharmed and I awaken in the dirt of the riverbed yet again to travel in search of water. That dream may have been an utter failure but she did have a point. That was her life and I selfishly made her last moments about me.
Standing I immediately roll my ankle in a tiny hole and fall back down. Just brilliant, such is my pitiful existence. Writhing in the dirt I clutch my ankle for a time before I decide I need to stand and shake it off. If only it was that easy, is my body truly so fragile that I can so easily damage it. Walking slower then normal I hobble forwards in the never ending search for water. I've come upon an extremely long flat section of riverbed and a couple of hours pass without a change in scenery. Long behind me is the inclines around the bridge or that fence or the road. All that's left is the uneven ground and flat dead dirt. It offers no protection from any of the elements and today the wind is stronger than normal. Ideally it would be blowing against my back but it's not, it's strong and pushing me backwards making progress even slower.
Lost in thought I put one foot ahead of the other instinctively as I recall past Cecilia's. At the time it didn't strike me as odd but when Cecilia held the camera to her eye our entire vision was locked into the view finder. Without closing one eye she had her entire focus in that tiny point. She was blind in her right which is strikingly familiar and cannot be a coincidence.
The night before when Cecilia was bedridden in that hospital she too was blind in one eye. It has no immediate effect on her and I've seen it before so I didn't really think of it as an interesting fact about her. However considering the two night before that it's become a trend. The Cecilia with horns was completely blind and the Cecilia in the library was blind in one eye even as a child.
Why is it that I don't share this trait. My eyesight is perfect and I've never had an eye injury or a close call before. I don't understand how the other worlds work but alongside sharing a name and an untimely death this is the only other trait we all share. Except for me that is. Destiny may not be the right word for it but maybe the same thing will happen to me at some point. I too may meet the same untimely death as the other Cecilia's. If that is the case then I'd best protect my eyes as best I can for risk of losing sight in one of them.
Just when I think I'm going to stop for a lunch break I notice something far in the distance and then it moves. There is a clump of dead bushes near on the riverbank ahead and all the remains is dry sticks but within something is moving around. This is bad, I'm out in the open and have no way to defend myself physically. Maybe it can be reasoned with, I've learned a lot about communication in the last two days so maybe negotiation is an option.
Stopping in my tracks I watch the bush rustle ever so slightly as whatever is inside moves about. The bush is much too small to hold a human without me being able to see inside. It's probably an animal but it could be a small child. Carefully so as not to make any noise I unclasp my bag and reach inside grabbing the length of wire out. It's rusted but straightens out nicely between my hands. If need be I could use this as a weapon to defend myself. It's almost useless and the only way I could do damage with it is if something were to run at me, using that force I'd be able to hurt it.
Fist fighting is not my style and this is all I can think of so it will have to do. I could run away if necessary but with my ankle hurt it's going to be difficult. Woefully unprepared is my permanent state of being but this could be an opportunity for me to become a predator if the creature within the bush is not hostile. Edging closer I can see the outline of whatever is inside, it's small. A bird or critter of some kind. Wire in hand I take another step closer when a rabbit pops it head out and our eyes lock. True fear overcomes both of us and I recoil backwards as it leaps out of the bush and bolts. Taking three running steps after it I slow to a halt and watch as it beelines across the vast emptiness before us. It covers more distance in a minute than I could cover in half an hour but it's still in sight.
Unwavering it continue ahead robotically as I remain in place watching in awe. It's speed does not falter nor does it heading and after a number of minutes pass it is but a speck on the horizon. I finally lose sight of it as it's just too far away. It's survival instincts put me to shame but I can't help but be impressed and relieved. That was the first living thing I've ever seen in my world.
With a huge smile plastered on my face I continue ahead feeling refreshed and enlightened. This world isn't dead after all and although it was only one rabbit it gives me hope that others could be around. Checking under the bush I find nothing but a few piece of grass that may have been it's meal. It's a shame too because I may have tasted meat for the first time if I'd had a means to catch it. Taking the first life I ever saw would seem ungrateful but a delicious rabbit stew would have made up for it. Eating meat is out of the question for the time being but I should try and procure the necessary utensils before attempting something like that again. Had it been hostile things may not have ended in such way.
Receiving any kind of physical damage is going to be my downfall so I'd best avoid situations like that in my future. All meat tasting may have to be contained to sharing the experience with other Cecilia's. Coaxing one of them in eating may be a selfish goal but I could actually do that now that I can communicate with them in my dreams. I've only tasted meat on two occasions. The first time was on a dinner plate and it was covered in gravy and cooked evenly whilst the other was half cooked fish over a camp fire. I learned a lot that night too as that Cecilia lit a camp fire with two stones and a shard of glass. It's amazing how flammable dried grass can be so I'd best be careful if I'm to attempt such a feat.
With a rabbit living in this area there must also be water and I need to find urgently. It's been half a day since I emptied my bottle and now that the sun is in the middle of the sky I can feel myself becoming dehydrated. It's only a matter of time before I collapse so I must press forward and find water.
Anywhere that isn't exposed to direct sunlight could still contain water much like the field of burrows I recently passed. The area around here is flat though so searching anywhere but the river is a pointless endeavour. The river however proves fruitful yet again as the riverbed becomes more narrow but much deeper. It seems almost like a shallow crevasse now which is promising as the harsh edge of the river casts shadows into the river bed. The shadows have the potential to stop water evaporating so I continue my search for puddles. The shade is also welcome as it gets me out of the heat of the sun which is a relief to my burnt face and neck. It stings but it could be a whole lot worse.
Continuing until nightfall my search yields no water. The edible plants are plentiful however which is a reassuring, they are dying without water but have survived well enough to remain in a good condition along the length of the riverbed. Without anything to keep me going I come to a rest at the edge of the riverbed crevice which is far from an ideal place to sleep but I have no choice in the matter. Even the simplest thing like sleeping in a bed would be an experience I'd like to have at least once before I die. If I do find myself a new home then the first thing I'm going to try and do is make myself a bed. For now my rug will have to suffice. It's seen better days but at least it's still all in one piece.
The onset of darkness is sudden and soon I'm lying in the dark unable to see a thing. I'm uncomfortable lying in the darkness outdoors and what's most unsettling about it is the absolute silence of the world around me. There is no wind, no life to create sound and no ambient water flowing like I'm used to. The situation feels so surreal. Without any noise to distract me I can't help but think about how tonight will unfold. It takes hours but I feel like I'm on the verge of falling asleep, it's going to be another long night.