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Plague of Faith

Disclaimer (I'm only writing this to stop idiots flaming me): I'm not condemning any religion, I'm just writing what I see. Historically, Wicca and Christianity have been at odds with each other so naturally it was the first example I thought of.

It began in ignorance. Fear heightened by misinformation and an inability to comprehend. The diseased mind of common man became contaminated by the shock jockeys that ride through the mass media. A rigid system of belief toiled blindly to outlaw that which it originally plagiarized. They endeavoured to instill terror into the hearts of those who had adopted alternatives to a single God. Herding heretics, culling the masses, eliminating an imaginary threat to appease their angered and confused minds. Blood spattered in swirling patterns across the indie media. Blood processed and sterilized by the commercial media, only to be repackaged into untruths and spin. Humanity had become the greatest plague to be unleashed across its Mother Earth and now it turned to infect itself.

            She observed the desperation surrounding her. Fugitives accused of a crime they didnt commit were forced into seeking refuge in the darkness of abandoned rail tunnels. They huddled helplessly, appealing to their many deities for relief. An illness flooded notebook laid open on the dust below her. A life captured in song lyrics, stories, artworks and letters. The marriage of hope and despair. A tear rushed to the floor as her distraught sapphire eyes relived the terror pooled on the stained page.

            We never believed it could happen! Blind armies swarming the cities, murdering and pillaging. Blood stained the streets, forming warm rivers along cracks in the asphalt. Life. Death filled the smoky air. Suffocating. Fires blazed throughout the landscape. Rubble replaced familiar structures. I had witnessed the mindless slaughter of my family and friends from behind the undergrowth. Twisting flames haunt my vision, terrified screams are etched into my memory. Their torture undocumented, dismissed. I have lost everything that matters in life but I shed no tears. Primal instinct controlled me as I escaped. I hide in the shadows, avoiding the fate of those before me.

            While I ignored my aching legs and ravenous hunger, I could no longer ignore the sharp pain in my chest or my parched throat. I stumbled blindly into a complex labyrinth of tunnels and shafts extending deep into the sandstone eager to seek shelter. Convinced I was safe, I rested briefly before wandering, disoriented, through the underground. I didn't know how long I wandered that night. It seemed inconsequential. Without light, I could not tell where I was headed, but the regular variation in the path I followed seemed like rail lines. The distant cries of people touched my ears, directing me towards a small camp. The large cave was littered with lost souls seeking refuge. My heart lifted briefly as I realized I was not alone. I clutched my tattered backpack to my heaving chest and hastily trotted towards the gathering. Emotion flooded my mind as I glanced around the cavern. I was relieved to find company, yet was distraught by the scene I was witnessing. Pestilence, disease, fear. But somehow hope continued to dimly glow through the suffocating despair. We could survive, we will survive!

Trust abandoned,

Mindless images paving false hopes,

Only to awaken slowly,

To a world gone insane,

Tilting towards destruction,

Of another life misused.

            The sun and moon danced provocatively across the hidden sky numerous times. I could only guess how long I had been underground. Life prevailed in our claustrophobic surrounds as we each cared for new life and old. Our community had eluded capture for many months (?) now, so it didnt seem necessary to migrate every few days. The few pessimists among us believed we were paving false hope. Physically I was lost though spiritually I was content, learning from those who shared my faith and were more experienced than myself. I excelled rapidly, becoming more captivated each day as I gained experience and a greater understanding of my beliefs. Our stained faces and clothes no longer worried us. The welfare of the community was paramount. We had little contact with the surface. A gatherer would occasionally skulk through the shadows of the world above in search of supplies. Food, fresh water, fuel. We were lost souls desperately seeking a permanent home, we had lost virtually all hope of returning to the surface.

            Thunderous footsteps echoed manically through the sandstone tunnels. Crunching gravel pounded beneath menacing boots. No warning. Panic gripped the choking air as the gathering hurriedly fled. Possessions scattered along the mysterious cavern. No one dared to utter a sound for the fear they would be traced. They smothered the exits, the frail and ill struggling to escape, unaided by their comrades. Primal instinct engulfed them. Blood trickled along the coarse sandstone, staining ancient golden hues with deep ruby veins. Cries of agony superimposed on ringing gunfire, blasting through the lonely tunnels. Screams of terror forever etched in the minds of the fugitives, never to be lost or forfeited. Guilt circled around their tortured subconscious. Stealthy footsteps running, furiously paced, running further, faster from imminent death.

            There was no warning! As I recover in my dusty hollow, piercing gunshots adhere to my every thought. I cannot escape the cries of my family. Guilt masses in my heart as I realise the consequences of my selfishness. Few of us survived. I try desperately to believe there are others somewhere in the abyss of the catacombs but rational thought continues to persuade me otherwise. Every night we rested in narrow cracks and hollows littered throughout the sandstone walls. We didn't dare risk setting up temporary camps for fear of being discovered again. I staggered through the darkness exhausted and famished, running from that which I feared and despised.

            One by one we succumbed to illness as we marched. We lacked the fresh water and food we needed for survival. None of us had ventured to the surface in several weeks. My eyes have become well adjusted to the dimness. Unable to move any longer, I crawled through the narrow crevice, yielding to the warm embrace of unconsciousness.

            I endured a torrid nights sleep riddled with confusing dreams. A dreamscape littered with images of destruction, hate and persecution. I slowly wandered the violent landscape, unable to escape. My bare feet stained in ruby blood. The stench of death gripped the stagnant air tightly, fiercely churning my stomach. Illness crept through my frail body as I witnessed horrid acts of torture, the suffering of the innocent. Brutally awoken, I stared, empty windows gazing upon the concealed ceiling.

            Images of the real world mingle and blur as I run. I can no longer remember the faces of those I left, or the scenes in which I once sought happiness. Flames, ash, blood. Famine eroded my body, replacing my agile form with a clothed, calloused skeleton. Thudding boots assaulted the earth below me, synchronized with the rhythm of my erratic heart. I begged mercilessly to my spirit guide, the Gods and Goddesses to guide my tattered soul towards safety. Every brief moment I paused, I heard the distant click of boots gaining momentum. Paranoia. Fear. Destiny awaiting the ferocious swipe of a blade.

            Shadow cloaked a frail form stumbling through the obscured tunnels. Cumbersome boots pounded frantically trying to find safety. Faint footsteps echoed behind her, filling her with terror. Crystal beads cascaded freely down her drawn face. Distant voices barked vicious commands, giving away their position. Listless draughts mimic rasping breath which reverberate across the abrasive stone. Barely visible streams of light drift effortlessly from the slotted earth above. She scurried into the narrow opening beside her trying to escape the fiendish golden hues. Sapphire pools cast wide with fright. Armoured feet stumbled over the variable ground. Hidden. All sound ceased. Not even the whistle of the dying breeze hummed through the hollows. Relief consumed her withered form, crying for closure.

            Lost. I can run no longer! Though I felt the soothing caress of sunlight for the first time in many months, my desire to recapture life wanes with each day that passes. Visions calm my petrified self. Sensations reassure me that the war is indeed over. Pure light intoxicates me, driving me to seek that which I left behind.

Faded memories clutched

Tightly in ravaged fingers,

Mind clinging desperately

To a friendship pure,

Lost in the sands of time,

Forever missed

But never forgotten.

            Tattered rags enclose a frail body. Her eyes alarmed by soothing luminescence. Worn boots drag her hypnotically towards the desolate surface. Destruction overwhelmed her struggling mind as diamond rivers pooled in her eyes. Blood. Smoldered remains of building and human alike littered the streets. Snaking tendrils of smoke traced toward the shimmering sky. Disheveled souls wandered aimlessly searching for shelter. Destiny stared meaningfully at her, determined to rebuild, regenerate.