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Submitted to:Bloodlust UK



The sky hung yellow and orange above the lake, draping the water in golden reflection, and even coating the hills with amber. The air was warm and motionless, and the lake was undisturbed by ripples. All around was silence, filling the empty space, enveloping it, wrapping it in tranquillity. All was calm and restful. All was still.

Beside the lake the trees rose up and spread into the sky, dark shapes casting shade onto the ground below. The leaves were starting to brown, but still they made shadow, far below, where she rested.

She too was motionless, forming merely the suggestion of darkness upon the landscape. The trees diverted light away from her, hid her, clothed her in shade as the day drew on, and she remained as still as the landscape around her. She just watched, crouched by the roots and bushes, staring out across the lake, seeing the dark brown wood of the pier a short way out, taking comfort from its stillness, its solidity. The pier had been rooted there for many years, many beyond her own, and would not move for many more. The very idea gave her strength.

All was quiet. There were no sounds here, no buzzing of insects, no singing of birds. Dogs did not howl and cats did not call. Oh, but it had been different once! A different sort of peace had lain about the place. She remembered, letting the thoughts in her head play back the commotion of her arrival over and over again. It had been still when she arrived, and she had drunk deep of the glorious serenity, taking the peace from the birds and the quiet scuttling of the insects. It had taken days, or maybe weeks, perhaps even months, but slowly the creatures had become noisy and boisterous, calling louder and louder. They were on the go day and night until finally they made a raucous din, deafening and echoing off the distant hills, as she flitted between them, taking what peace each of them had left.

And then, they had stopped. The animals had died, burnt out and exhausted, and she had fallen back into the calm of the trees, assuming her watch over the lake, drawing on its greater, lasting peace.

Her body was still, and even the long, dark curls of her hair stayed at rest around her shoulders, only occasionally moving in a light breeze before that, too, was rendered still.

But in her mind it was different. In her mind the noise still echoed, the motion flowed before her, all the birds and insects rushing around her, tormenting her inside her own head. There was no peace there, and each day it became louder and more disturbing. She fought the memories, pushed the noise aside, absorbed the silence of the lake, but it was not enough. And, at times, she remembered something previous, causing the noises in her head to change from the wild and animal to the mechanical and ordered.

There was a city, she remembered, with towering buildings and noisy, rumbling machines. She had lived there, worked there, she recalled. There had been people, endless people, talking and shouting, and a job that made her rush about and made her agitated. She remembered she had felt turmoil, frenzy, longing more and more for rest and quiet. But each day she had carried on, feeling the heat inside from the endless drain, fighting for her own inner calm. Some days, she had noticed, had been worse than others; days she had become unsettled for no reason. That was when she first had noticed them - the others that were to become her kind.

They were in every location - town, city, country, all over. They rested and waited in the quiet places, out of the way so they would be undisturbed. They strove for calm, to be at rest, but they could not shut out the noise inside their heads. So they came as shadows and ghosts, twitching and running, fluttering between the people. They were not cruel or unkind, but they came for the peace, taking what little quiet they could find in other people's minds and using it, temporarily, to settle their own. They had appeared to her only briefly, barely visible hints of shapes, sudden flickers across her vision, across everyone's vision, but so fast they went unnoticed.

Except she had noticed them. She had seen the shapes, stealthy and dark, and she had felt them eroding what peace she had in the chaos of her life, after years of struggling to calm her own mind. She had seen them and she had felt them, and more, she realised she could join them.

She had given everything up, her life, her body, for what stillness she could find. She regained her strength by taking the peace of the people around her, basking in the feeling of restfulness it provided, while the loss made their own lives became too much for them. And slowly, she had become another shape flitting through the crowds on the city streets.

But even taking what she could, the turmoil in her mind still grew. The sounds of the city, the hurry, the bustle, all these things still upset her, so she took her distress away to another place, away from the people, away even from others of her kind as was her mandate. She fled to the country, as so many did, and she settled by the lake.

And so it was she came to be resting by the water, watching the pier, its rigidity shoring up her own peace as the memories echoed in her head. Only occasionally was her study disturbed, and then only briefly, as a boat tied up on one side of the lake would creak slightly with the minute motions of the water. The sound roused her, pulling her from her reverie. Sometimes, if the boat creaked more than once, she would rise from the shade and flit helplessly about the boat, wishing for the strong timbers to be quiet, but knowing that the wood was similar to the pier, and it was the material's strength and immovability that made it creak so. She would dash around the small vessel futilely, before finally returning to rest at the base of the trees again.

The boat had had people once, to sail it across the lake, but she had drained them until eventually they stopped coming. But there were others - strangers, visitors, coming to see the lake and bask in its calm, and she would hear their muted noise and watch their bold movements, and be disturbed and in awe, for she would also feel their calm. They would enjoy the tranquillity, and then she would be among them, snapping from place to place, turning her inner turmoil into short, sharp motions, impossibly fast, almost imperceptible, taking their peace one by one and leaving them frustrated and tired and stressed without them ever knowing why.

Some, too, would see her, that she knew, and maybe after she had gone round them all, some might just see her disappear into the cover of the trees. Some would join her, too. Some would join her kind. The quiet people were fewer in number these days, and at the same time, she knew that her own kind was becoming more common.

The thought troubled her, and somewhere in the rushing inside her head she hoped maybe it would not happen. But as the light faded and the lake became darker, the noise in her head would not let the idea go. Eventually there might be no more people, she thought, and no more animals, and her kind would be so numerous as to literally be everywhere. And then there would no more calm, no more peace, as her kind roamed the fields and roads and waters edge, each carrying their own growing tumult, each looking for the quiet repose that was no longer to be found.

But that was the future. And as amber turned navy, and navy turned black, she held herself in the present, waiting in peace, calmly letting time pass, staying at rest. Still.

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