Today’s Muse piece has a familiar character of mine – Cynthia Ruin – at the shoreline after Earth begins to taint from the evil saturating it in my Black Earth series. It sets up a very interesting storyline that I would at some point like to explore further…
Bottle in the Water
Cynthia dumps the content of the bottle into her hand – a strand of shiny black pearls. No letter, no other item inside the bottle but tainted, dark seawater.
She stares out at the ocean, the water gray and colorless, the sky above it dark with storm clouds. The pearls feel ice cold in her hands. She counts two dozen on the strand, and she has to wonder who put them in the bottle. Black pearls, even though they once used to be white but were now tainted by the darkness, were valuable to those who cared to trade for them. Cynthia figured she could probably get a week’s worth of meals from a refugee with just half the strand. The other half would buy her shelter for a day or two, maybe more.
Thunder rolled along a ceiling of clouds. The hair rose on the back of her neck and she wondered…
Staring across the sea, across the gloomy currents, she could barely make out a tall spire, reaching into the sky. She could only make out a silhouette of it, but the silhouette was enough to let her know what she was seeing.
Cynthia shoved the pearls in the pocket of her coat and glanced around, sure that someone knew of her presence here. If those from the tower found her here, she would be slaughtered, burned, or even worse, eaten by the cannibals who roamed the land.
A hum of energy pulsed through the pearls in her pocket and she suddenly realized she had come to the end of her running. There would be no escape from her death now. Her feet would not save her, her breath would be the only thing fleeing, and when it did, she would be met with the darkness that had already swallowed the rest of the world.
The sound of leaves rustling in the distance at first made her think of the wind, but she knew better. Those that slept in the center of the island were awake and aware of her presence now. The trap had been set, the pearls had been taken by her, and even if she were to get rid of them by throwing them back into the ocean, that gray void of water, her hands, her skin, her soul had already been tainted by their dark purpose.
Cynthia ran toward the water, realizing she had only one choice. Though the water would be cold and heartless, void of the life that once swam through it when Earth was in its prime, she would have to trust that it would give her protection from those possessed by the darkness. She would rather drown trying to make it to another island, or even an abandoned ship of some sort, than be eaten or burned to death.
With a deep breath, Cynthia began running into the tide, never looking back.