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Ante Mortem

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Ante Mortem

Prelude: Fated

Within one day, he felt the world turn over. Within one day, everything that had meaning made no sense to him anymore.

Within one day...he lost all that he had gained over the course of ten years.

The boy was hurtling towards the wraith-like mist that enshrouded the dark landscape at an incredible speed, barely holding his consciousness as he dashed past the miles. The cold escaped into his body and reached down to his soul, freezing it, filling it with dread and chasing away what little warmth his body possessed.

He tried to fight it off. He really did. But the cold relentlessly pushed down on him, to the point where it was difficult to breathe. As he fought, he suddenly recognized the icy feeling that blanketed his being.

I'm going to die...

The realization filled his mind, as he felt the adrenaline rush leave him, weak and helpless. Gripping the handlebars He now clung on to the bike and felt a sickening, gut-wrenching thud of pain as his injured, vulnerable leg collided against the metallic body.

More cries followed the scream of pain, as he let loose his agony, not caring if anyone heard him, not caring even if he saw him, alone, defenceless and injured. He forgot where he was. He forgot who he was. He forgotwhat he was.

Till the point where he couldn't feel anything any more; pain, terror, anger, hurt...nothing. He felt the cold numbness sweep over his body and blocking his train of frenzied thought.

In my fading consciousness...

The boy closed his eyes and sighed as the relieving numbness soothed his soul and beckoned him to a place where there existed no pain. Where there would exist a possibility of seeing his most precious-

He sucked in a breath as he felt the world jerk underneath him, swerving the motorcycle around. With a sickening jolt, he felt the motorcycle tip over from the force of it. In that, single terrifying moment, he re-lived all the memories he had up till that point.

The numbness slipped away from him like petals scattered by the wind, and the boy ground his teeth, wrenching open his eyes. The landscape was still rushing past him but the mist had faded and the dark velvet sky was now streaked with red, gold and lavender.

The pain. The foremost sane thought...the only sane thought in his mind was the drive to escape from his pain.

...I saw snow from my hometown.

As he watched the sun slowly rise above the horizon, he felt a light, floating sensation...his limbs, buffeted by the rushing winds, hung above the metal body of the motorcycle. Slowly, he felt his eyes close again, as he drifted...away from himself, away from his pain, away from his past.

It was so gentle and merciless.

He was going to float forever in this world.

He would float here, until all his unrelentingly painful memories were erased. His very existence was erased.

And he would forget the fact that an innocent, young boy had committed an unforgivable sin.

What is the true meaning of justice?

The desert sun shone bright and clear in the azure sky, sending unrelenting rays of golden light on three lone figures.

What is the true meaning of evil?

They raced across the savannah, leaving dusty winds in their wake. One of the figures raced ahead of the other two, while the latter called him anxiously.

Stand together with me on the path of light...

"Be careful!" The taller, more imposing of the remaining two called, as the blonde man rode ahead, grinning broadly. He didn't pay any heed to the warning. He never did. He just sped up faster, racing against the wind.

"They say idiots and elites like living on the edge." The smaller one of the two smiled sheepishly, watching the blonde go in amusement. His mauve eyes were gentle as they surveyed the warm brown of the man beside him. "You of all people should know that."

The other sighed, running a hand through his red hair. "True." He admitted, "But, I feel as the days pass by, he's becoming less familiar to me."

Lose ourselves in the tides of time...

The blonde man continued onward, unaware of their discussions. Kami, it's a great day to ride. He thought to himself, violet-blue eyes shining with excitement, I'm glad I managed to sneak away during lunch. After all, I won't be able to do anymore of this for the next week or so...

He grimaced, Trust that old fart to somehow sneak me in with the last group. Ah, well.

Forbidden is the desire of freedom...

He revved the engine and thundered down the dusty road, whooping all the while. Shutting his eyes against the scorching winds that threatened to burn his face, he felt the wind whip past his hair. He could almost feel himself drifting away from all the cares in the world.

Kami alone knows how long it's been since he ever felt like this. Forgetting who and what he was, his only goal; escape.

Save me from myself...

As he swerved a corner, he slammed headlong into something that knocked the breath out of him. His eyes flew open in shock and for an instant, he felt the ties that held him to the world cut and he hung weightless in the air. With a loud thud, he felt his body hit the ground, as his bike slipped out from under him and skidded off to crash to the ground with a loud, dying roar.

He had managed to survive the crash, but probably for not much longer. The ruby-topaz light that glared off what was left of his rear-view mirror, lying a few feet from him, told him that there was a fire, right behind him, consuming the wreckage. He clambered to his feet and started scraping off the metal parts of the twisted motorbike next to his own, gritting his teeth against the sheer heat.

When he had pulled away the metal, he felt a gasp catch in his throat. He automatically pulled out a cell-phone and speed-dialled the first number on the list. He waited with bated breath, feeling the heat of the flames sear his skin.

"Hello?" The red-haired man answered.

"Castor, get Labrador and come here. Now."