suffering comes to me dressed in white and stands by the door. this casts a long shadow on the floor, stopping right before my feet. though there is no reason to panic, i instinctively reach for the bone card. in an unusual slowness, i experience the movement of my own hand. then the dreaded thought assails me: what if it isn’t there? before this intrusion of doubt can run wild, my fingertips have curled around familiar wrinkled pulp.
here there are no accidents, only ritual. for now i am safe again.
after sleep, i linger on, trying to remember how the bone card came to rest in my possession. it’s a pointless exercise—like movement without temperature. i begin to drift in the direction of weightlessness, but soon i come up against the boundaries of my memory. i close my eyes in a desperate attempt to advance just one step closer toward the mirror of fog. immediately the nausea comes after me, and my senses are overwhelmed by a piercing ring. i feel my stomach turn, as if trying to escape. soon the light leaves my eyes and the ringing noise distorts into a sickening drone.
when the elders ascended they left nothing for us to remember them by except their tools. some say that the strange staves were originally apotropaic, that the elders kept them close during their hunting rituals—believing them to ward off malicious spirits. others say that they were the weapons themselves. many theories have come and gone over time, each as hollow as the last. the only proof we have of the talismans are the bone cards which were harvested from their barbs and ridges. today, even the thought of the runes in their original state causes me to shiver. nobody knows how or why those runes work. all we know is they do, and without them, we’d never get to sleep. and if we’d never get to sleep, how else would we live with the constant presence of the drone?
- Rohan Mills