This story was inspired by a song composed by Chris Carlson titled “Release”. I’m hoping to add an audio recording of this story with the music soon.
Three Little Words
by Jason Warden
In the beginning, there were words. They came before the light, they came before the earth and they came from everywhere. I know, I heard them, but did not understand those three little words. In truth, I didn’t even try. I focused on the voice. It was beautiful and it embraced me like the loving arms of a mother. I felt whole inside them, safe, protected.
In the dark, scared and unable to find my way, those words were like music pushing and pulling me where I needed to go. Words like music, music like light, light like love.
I tried to move toward it. Following the voice, I flowed into the love I could see, the light I could hear, the words I could feel, but I was no closer. I wanted to settle for only listening. I wanted to let the calm wash over me and forget everything in the void, but my savior wouldn’t let me. It pushed me onward, and so I searched.
As I stumbled about in the black, I fell and crashed to the unforgiving ground. Bright agony blasted into my head and caused my teeth to ring in their sockets. I pushed on and ran into sharp objects that seemed to have no form at all, as if they were only there to hurt and had no other purpose, no other reason for being. Each time, as I was about to cry out, she would come, her voice ringing softly through the black. The sound of her voice restored my will, she promised to stay with me and show me the way.
The journey was long. Many times, I had to stop and allow her words to massage away my aches.
After weeks, years, millennia, I came to the place where her voice was stronger. She encouraged me forward and allayed my fears. I stumbled, fell, I expected her words to take the pain. Then I saw the light, and the light too was pain. I tried to see into it, but my traitorous eyes refused to see. The voice was there, but no longer as strong. A cacophony of noise enveloped it, and pushed her away. The calm she had brought, was replaced by agony that swallowed the world.
I cried in physical agony and loss. Her words, which had only moments ago surrounded me and created peace within faded; faded, and were gone. I struggled, trying to find my way back to her, but as I did, alien hands pulled me roughly away, and still I could not open my eyes against that bastard light. My mouth was covered, hands pawed over my body, touching, pulling. I felt needle-like teeth bite into my arm. I fought and knocked the creature away in horror, but more hands and more teeth quickly replaced it. Soon I was immobile. There was another bite and then, thankfully, nothing.
When I woke, there were many voices, but none I wanted to hear. They spoke in low tones about recovery, and permanent damage. One word sent up a flare of fear in the deepest pits of my brain. Blind.
I tried to open my eyes, and felt my lashes flicker across something. My head was covered. I tried to reach up, to feel, but my hands were tied down. In spite of everything, all I wanted was her voice. I cried out for her. My brittle dry throat crackled out the words, “Come back.”
Hands reached out for me, they were gentle, and the voices, calming. Another word brought everything into perspective. Hospital. A great sea of apathy washed over me. The pain was gone, even the loss of her was like a memory of pain. I closed my eyes, and thought how ridiculous it was to have them open. I wondered if the abyss was always there, waiting, hungry. Then, for a while, there was nothing.
My brother’s voice woke me; he seemed to know it even though I didn’t respond. I heard him saying he loved me, trying not to cry. When we were kids he was always the one who cried, so it didn’t surprise me that he’d started up with the sobbing. I imagined his big bulbous nose dripping and bubbling as the whimper train started up. I didn’t want to hear it. I tried to move and found I could. I heard my brother gasp, and before he can run and call for someone I asked, “What happened?”
He told me about the accident. I still don’t remember it. He said a car pulled out into traffic in front of me. He said I didn’t even have time to hit the brakes.
“What’s wrong with my face?”
That’s when he lost it.
A minute later, someone else entered the room. I felt the blood in my veins become lava, boiling and churning from the inside out. She asked my brother if he was ok. I exploded.
“What the fuck happened to me?”
They gave me another dose of the void, the abyss, whatever you want to call it, but later, finally, the doctor told me.
“It’s called exophthalmia: protrusion of the eye from the orbit, or socket. In your case, your eye didn’t have time to close so the impact sent your eyes forward while your body came to a sudden stop. We were able to save the left, although your vision will likely never be what it was.”
He told me this and more, all of it in a very professional practiced tone. One which leaves no doubt he has done his homework, gone to bed early, woke up well rested and has no doubts about the decisions he has made in his life. In other words, he was a pretentious asshole.
They released me last week. I spent all day in front of a T.V. He was right, my vision is almost completely gone; I can’t see. I can only listen to people talk about shit I don’t want to hear. And all anyone wants to say to me is how lucky I am. They keep saying it, but we’ll see.
I heard her voice yesterday and I think I know who she is.
My brother and his wife left me here and told me to make myself at home. They said they would be back later with supper. I’ve been waiting for them to leave all day, and now that they’re gone, I’m scared.
My brother doesn’t have kids. That’s why the house is always so neat and why everything is always in its place. It’s easy, really. The keys are right there, and her car is just outside the door. With their gravel driveway, it’s going to be a cinch to make it to the highway. I’ll hear the crunch of it under the tires the whole way.
I’m shaking as I pull out onto the highway. It’s a narrow two lane county road, but it has a shoulder, and as long as I don’t hear anything, I’ll be just fine.
I give the car the gas, and then a little more. With the windows down, I feel the breeze. It’s exhilarating. I push down harder on the pedal, and I hear a noise. I ease the car to the right and stop when I feel the tires leave the road. A car passes by, its horn blaring. I yell out the window; “Sorry,” laugh, and get back on the road.
With one hand on the wheel and one out the window, I let the wind currents lift and drop my hand like I used to do in Dad’s truck. I’m thinking some things never get old, when I feel the car miss the curve I knew had been somewhere ahead. We’re airborne, the little car and myself, and I have time to think this how astronauts feel in zero gravity. The car bucks, my head hits something, and then we are rolling. The noise is tremendous. I hear glass shattering, metal screaming and then nothing. All is still.
As I begin to fade away, I’m thinking it didn’t work, that I really am one unlucky bastard, until a voice, her voice breaks through.
“On Star Emergency.”
Everything I’ve ever wanted is right here.