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GUEST STORY: The Man in the Box

We have another Guest Story from my brother, Jason Young.   These are excerpts from his second novel that read as short stories.  Be sure to check out all of the stories on the site, including Jason's by clicking on the complete list.  I'm still waiting on final approval to post my Chain Story as well.  I'll have another story this month also, to make up for last month.

Be sure to check out my recent collections available on the Kindle.  You can check out Jason's Kindle offerings here.

     I had a dream of a stone prison…
     I didn’t know where I was, because I could see the world outside myself. There was a transport that traveled an endless desert. It rolled across the golden sand with its deep iron tread. It lifted the sand and dropped it back onto itself like a water wheel. It would move as long as there was sand in the desert. I tried to point my focus to the burning sky, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t comprehend its dimensions. There was a pilot steering the craft in a straight line. I couldn’t be sure if the pilot was also the architect of the craft. All I know is that the pilot appeared the same as the distorted sky, and I couldn’t tell if it was a he or a she. I couldn’t even see if it was a human being, but my imagination told me that that was the only thing that it could be.
     The transport carried two heavy stone slabs, moored to the back with gilded chains. The stones were the shape of a box and they were held tightly together so that not even a single ray of light could pass through their divide.
     The transport moved on and on, and everything was the same so that there was no reason to differentiate one moment from the next. Every aspect of the world was a constant and because of its consistency it felt like death. After a long time, what felt like an eternity, the transport came to a stop.    
     The golden chains that were bored through the stone began to fall into the sand. As the chains fell, the stones were pulled apart, slowly grating across the transports metal surface. The sound was so loud, that the whole world began to shake and I couldn’t see anything clearly until the chains sat in piles in the sand and the stones came to a halt. I looked into the gap between the stones where there were shapes etched out of both sides in the exact dimensions of a man. In the recess of the stone was a man, finally liberated from the box. Though he was free from his prison, he was still held to the stone with a leather strap around his throat. He remained still and silent, but I could see his chest moving in and out and I wondered how he had survived inside the box for so long.
     I imagined what it would feel like to be trapped inside the box myself, the darkness, the isolation, the fear. the stones pressed so tight that I couldn’t fill my lungs with air. I imagined the torture of being buried alive, but this was somehow worse. I lost the will to live. I imagined an eternity of suffering, and wishing I could die. Praying for the release that is an iron maiden. No sight, no sound, the darkness. I wanted to call out to the man and tell him to break free. I could think of no better pleasure than to see the man stretch out his ancient arms, and hear the crack of his idle bones.
     But he didn’t move, and the chains pulled themselves back into the stone. And the stones came together. And the man was entombed in the stone again. And the transport went on until the desert ran out of sand. And I was the man. And I would do anything to die, anything to not exist, but I couldn’t, and the desert was endless.

Aegis’ Dream

     I dreamt of eternal night. I was trapped but I didn’t know where. I couldn’t hear a sound, and though I understood that I had a body, I had no control over it. The only part of me that was at liberty was my mind, which I used to put the fathoms of darkness behind me.
     The day came that I heard a sound, chains cutting into stone. And then there was light. Only then could I see that I was entombed between two great stones that were sitting upon a mechanized transport. I could feel my body for the first time, and the heat of the sun. I suddenly felt the fear of the stone prison. A fear that wasn’t possible until I understood the horror that I was forced to endure. I got off the transport and saw only scorched ground in every direction. A wind blew over the barren landscape and lifted the last of the deserts sand from the cracks in the surface. I went to the driver’s compartment, but there was no one to be found, and no sign that there ever was a driver. The unit was completely robotic. It had no steering wheel or pedals, just a vial lying on its side filled with a murky liquid. I took the vial in my hand, and I can’t explain how, but it told me that I would have to go on a journey. It told me that I would have to walk the desert until I grew old, the direction didn’t matter. I stepped away from the vehicle that had no driver, and I looked to the sky that had no clouds. I could see so far that the sky was ripped in half. On one side there were the nights dark stars. And on the other side, the night's adversary, the burning sun. When I started walking I was a young man and once I started I couldn’t stop, but I kept walking until I was old and approaching dark death. My feet were worn and calloused. My back was spindly and bent. I had a grey beard that reached the Earth, and my eyes were buried beneath my wrinkled skin. I held the vial still; my hand was swollen around it. I arrived at my destination. It was nowhere in particular, just the place my feet wouldn’t carry me beyond. I bend my weary back to the ground, and I poured the contents of the vial into a scar in the surface. The scar was bottomless, as if the entire universe lied directly beneath. By the time I lifted myself back up, I could see that all around me the land was covered with green life. The ground was soft, and it took the pain from my crooked toes, giving me the life to walk a little further. I walked into the forest until I came to a throne, and I knew that it was mine because I was the father of the forest. I sat down for the first time since my journey began, and the years melted from my face. I thought my youth was being returned to me. Through the trees I could see the sun reverse direction, and like a curtain it pulled the sky behind it. I was already a young man, but the stars kept passing over my head going the wrong direction. The sun dropped until it was dawn, and the stars dwindled until there was none left. I lied in my throne an infant, but the sky kept pulling itself back until it was a white nothing, and the throne was empty because the infant was never born, but the throne remained. And though I was a nothing, I could see the white light. And I would do anything to be born again.
     I would do anything to live.


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