Fear The Dawn: Chapter 26

Silence. It was as though the world itself stood still.

It was impossible to say how much time passed that way. Clouds passed by far above, blotting out the stars, then parting again as though they were never there. Perhaps rain may have fallen, or strong winds might have blown, but if so no one heeded their presence. A pair of eyes gazed up at the same sky, but the fire that had once been there was gone, all that remained were the endless waves rolling far below, indifferent to the affairs of man. The eyes closed, and the world went away.

Karma... Wake up, my Karma...”. The girl's voice was distant, her body a mere silhouette. He reached out to her, but she was gone, her final gift had been given.

A yellow eye opened. The world moved once more.
How long have I been lying here?”, he wondered. His body felt heavy, and he struggled to move. He held a paw in front of his face. It had to be a dream. He tried to force himself awake, but instead, distant memories slowly trickled back into his mind. Memories of a black cat who destroyed everything for his stubborn pride. Memories of a hunter who killed his friends, of a villain laughed at by his foes. This was no dream, rather, it was as though he had just awoken from one. He tried to hold onto it, to the person he had been and the girl who called out to him, but those truths floated away from his consciousness like grains of sand on a distant shore, scattered by the wind as he tried feebly to catch them. In the end, he only kept one thing, a single grain to remember that existence.

He forced himself to sit up. He sat upon the deck of a ship, and before him the ocean seemed to stretch out forever, a deep purple blanket covering the world. The stars above twinkled faintly, and a cold wind blew across the sky, filling dark sails that rippled proudly in the night. This was his world, just as he had left it.

Karma rose to his feet. How long had it been? He tried to remember the events leading up to his departure from this place. There had been others. Friends and comrades, lost through his own actions. For a moment, a glimmer of hope shone in his mind. Could they be back? After all, he had returned, perhaps it was a fresh start for them all. He strode quickly across the deck, and in his haste he almost fell, he wasn't yet fully accustomed to this body, but with every passing moment more of it was coming back to him. He descended the stairs that lead to his cabin.

It was an impossibly strange feeling to enter that room. Before he opened the door, he had no idea what to expect, but the moment he saw it he realized he had known all along. It was exactly as it had been, but it had gone unused for a long time, the room had an old, musty smell, and a thick layer of dust lay upon his furniture. There was no one inside, so he quickly shut the door again. The rooms below deck were where he needed to go, so he lifted the hatch and climbed down the ladder, nearly falling as he put his foot through a broken rung.

He fell to his knees when he saw it. Huge gashes ran down the walls, pieces of splintered wood littered the halls, broken furniture scattered everywhere, smashed to pieces and torn apart. This was his doing, the product of his rampage. Worst of all, it was silent as a grave, only destruction and the scent of death lingered here. His friends were gone and his sins remembered, laid bare for all to see upon these walls. He cried out in anguish at the hopelessness of it all.

Why? Why have I been brought back? For the first time in my life I did something right when I left this place behind. What am I supposed to do now?”
He didn't have any answer, but as it turned out, he didn't need one. The sun continued to rise in the sky anyway, just the same as it always had.


At first he thought he had returned to the happy life he had known, away from that place of sadness and death, but he quickly realized he had not, for it was those painful memories of loss that remained clear to him while the other life stayed distant in his mind. It was morning in this world, and he had been taken away to do battle. He remembered that he used to live for these moments, but he felt none of that exhilaration now. He still inhabited the same skin as before, but he was very different inside and the person he saw in his memories felt foreign to him.

He was in a large vehicle, and it was slowly moving forward on its own. He remembered doing this before, the wheel in his hands was much like the wheel on his ship, and the levers below his feet made the vehicle start and stop. He had nowhere to go right now, though, so he placed his foot on the one that stopped the vehicle and took a look around. Near the road there was a large patch of grass that lead to a building. A few strangers were talking to each other near the building, while some smaller ones were playing in the grass. A round object flew across the street, and they ran after it, giggling and paying no attention to him.
I could hit them”, he realized, and part of him wanted to, to see their bodies thrown in front of him and feel them crushed under his foot, and he was completely disgusted by himself. “I'm not that person anymore”, he declared. “I won't do it.”
Watch out!”, he called to the strangers, but they ignored him. He pressed the button on his wheel, which let out a great noise, but they just giggled and ran across the road.
They want me to hit them”, he realized to his horror. “That's why I'm here. I am the hunter, and they are the prey.” Instinctively, his foot reached for the lever that made the vehicle move forward.
But he had a choice, just like he had with that girl. He didn't have to go through with it. His foot pressed down on the lever, and the vehicle started to move forward. He turned the wheel towards the grassy area, brought it to the edge of the road, and put his foot down on the other lever, which brought the vehicle to a stop. It started to move again the moment he released the pressure on his foot, though, so he fumbled around with the controls until he found a little knob that stuck out from the side of the wheel. He tried to pull it out, but it didn't come out, so he twisted it a few times until the sound of the vehicle died down and it came to a complete stop.
Hah”, he boasted triumphantly. “So much for that”. The strangers continued to play in the street while the others talked up upon the grass, but they were no longer in any danger, he had won.

Another vehicle screamed around the corner at incredible speed, letting out a horrible squeal as it blew by him. There was a terrible crunch, and the vehicle slammed into one of the strangers, throwing his mangled body forward onto the pavement below as it disappeared into the distance.
No!” he exclaimed. The little strangers screamed, and the bigger ones came running over, alerted by the noise. One of them went straight to the body while the others tried to shoo the other little ones away, who were all crying and screaming as loud as they could. Karma threw the door to his vehicle open and rushed over to the female stranger who lay there cradling the broken body in her arms.
Tommy!”, she cried out in bone-chilling anguish. “Oh God, why?! I only took my eye off you for a second! Tommmmyy!!!” She broke down in tears, clutching the body tightly to her chest.
But I didn't want this to happen!”, Karma protested, a tear streaming down his cheek. “I tried, I really did!”
If only I had been more careful...”, the stranger said in a voice that was deathly hoarse. “Oh Tommy...”
He could only watch in horror as she mourned her loss. It was just like how Banshee had acted when Line had gone, and in that moment he realized the strangers were no different from them. Seeing her grief laid bare before him, he resolved to never take another life. The sky turned dark, and the stranger and her lost loved one gradually faded away, leaving Karma to return to his ship, which was docked where he had left that vehicle. He dragged himself back aboard, still feeling drained and horrified at what he had witnessed.

Perhaps this is my punishment for all the pain and suffering I caused”, he thought, lying face down on the deck. If only he could apologize to the people he'd hurt, but they were gone now, that was what was so very cruel about it all. For what little it was worth, he apologized to Banshee and Line anyway.
But then a moment later something else came back to him, Line and Banshee weren't the only ones, there was also that woman that he and Line had hurt. Line had left because of his guilt over what happened that night, but she might still be here. That must be it, he could at least make up for that mistake in Line's place. What was her name? He wracked his brain, but he couldn't come up with it. Had she even told them? What did Line say?
Lapse, huh? That's a funny name, because you weren't paying any attention where you were going and you almost hit us!”
Lapse. That was her name. She was the key to everything, she had to be.

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