Guest Blog Post: Tarnished by Michael D. Griffiths

Abandoned by time, memory, and apparently friends, I wander through the rubble. The sky, gray.

Who am I?

I know things. I know the color of the brown pieces of brick that litter the road. The dull red of rusted metal. I know I’m a woman in a tattered dress that might have once been white.

I can do math and could speak… if there was anyone around to listen. I just have no idea who I am or memory of what this world is like, if this is my world.

An eerie thought passes over me and I shiver. What if I am dead? Could this be an afterlife? The large bruise and the pain that sometimes shoots through my left arm leads me to think otherwise, but that brings up another question.

How was I injured?

My head hurts too. I touch it and see my delicate fingers are now stained with small circles of blood.

I sit on a crumbling column fallen on its side. Looking over my wound, I try to imagine how I might have received it. “This could give me some clue.” My own voice startles me.

It doesn’t. It’s just a bruise. I could have just stumbled; there are loose rocks everywhere.

I start to feel hunger, which is another point for me still being in the land of the living, but this place is so desolate. How could I have survived this long? There doesn’t seem to be food anywhere?

I pause. “Well, I guess the lack of food gives me something to do. For if I don’t find any, all of this won’t matter long.”

My voice didn’t sound as strange this time, like I was subconsciously used to it. But it reminded me that I’m female. Did I have a lover? Is he or maybe even she, looking for me? Are they sad I am gone?

In a weird turn, I wonder how pretty I am, but there is nothing to see myself in. I haven’t seen a puddle yet. This reminds me of how thirsty I am and I must move on.

My humming starts to become a tune and I stop. Is this a clue? Still it revels nothing and I find myself growing frustrated, but I’m not sure if I should laugh, scream, or cry.

Then I hear something.

It doesn’t sound friendly. It growls. I freeze as it moves out from around a crumbling wall. At first I think wolf, but no, it is an ugly mangy dog and very big. It growls again and a thread of drool escapes from its black lips.

Could I be a warrior? Looking down at my smooth slim limbs, I wouldn’t think so.

I try running, but I have no shoes.

It’s running after me. Instinct is still alive. Even if I don’t know who I am, I don’t wish to die. Climbing up the crumbling wall is difficult, but I am free from the fangs, if not the beast. It must be hungry too, for it looks like it has no intension of leaving me. “Perhaps, I could eat you?” I call down from my narrow perch, but it just snarls.

Drawing my knees up to my chin, I try to ignore the sharp stones digging into me and my hunger. Darkness is starting to fall. That could be another point for this being a normal world.

It is still there…

I try to use this time to think, but I have nothing to draw on, no past and maybe not even a future. Time passes slowly. I am not sure if I love or hate the dog. At least it is alive, but my body is feeling worse.

Why be alive at all, if life is so short?

There is another sound now. Much louder. I fear it far more than the dog. It is like an angry God. Even the dog is whimpering. Lights in the sky. Is it angels, devils, something from the stars?

Round glowing lights cover me. Something is drawing near. It’s a disk of chaotic colors. I have nowhere to hide.

Fire, lighting, something awful bursts out to the disc. There is a yelp besides me. The dog has been slain! Am I next?

Something is happening above. I can’t dare look. An object is being lowered. It’s moving. Could it be a person?

It’s a man. He is calling to me. “Jullith, Jullith!” Could this be my name?

He is so graceful and I would have to say handsome. Oh, I’m in his arms. I hug back with hesitation as he whispers sweet praises to me. He says, “I love you.”

“What happened to me?”

Moving me to arms distance, he says, “You don’t remember? Someone kidnapped you and dumped you out here in the wasteland.”

“Why would someone hate me that much? What have I done?”

“It must be someone who disapproves of our wedding and I think I know who they are and I assure you they will pay.”

“Wedding...” I pause. “But why not just kill me? Why dump me here?”

“I think I know. We gave the entire castle a run through the Trutherbox and no one said that they had harmed you. Just leaving you here would allow that answer to be correct, even if their actions would surely lead to your death.”

“You will take care of me now?”

“Of course, my love. Now come. We will get you fed and warm.”

I decide to wait. I’ll wait until he gets me home before I will tell him; I have no memory.

On the floating disc now. Men are bowing. Below me, the rubble he called the wastelands glides by. I can’t help but wonder if it is still where I really belong.

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