[Prologue] – Judgment
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"Dyer John?"

"Here"

"Mason Addison?"

"Present"

"Fowler Brent?"

"…"

"Fowler Brent?"

"I believe he went home, miss Jakobson."

Miss Jakobson sighed deeply. By this point she stopped counting how many times the boy missed the orchestra class. Every time they speak about music, he is passionate about it, she sees in his eyes the sincerity of wanting to play, but when it comes to practicing, he seems to lose all motivation. One's wants are not enough, you also have to practice.

 


 

“I really should have gone to the rehearsal” I moaned while looking at my gig bag, waiting for lights to change. I signed up to my high school orchestral club wanting to play guitar, and impress the ladies. I would never admit it, especially knowing that this type of music is no longer in, but sometimes at night I dreamed of being a rockstar, moving the crowds. And yet, I couldn’t bring myself to practice 1 hour a day, not to mention the recommended 2-3 hours”. The light changed to green. 

To be honest, the reason why I didn’t go to the rehearsal, was because I was embarrassed of how much I sucked. It’s embarrassing in front of the teacher, let alone in front of the girls. And no, no particular person came to my mind at that moment, absolutely none!

“Okay. Stop. Every time you tell yourself “I will do this tomorrow”, well tomorrow is today! If you are too embarrassed to practice in front of others, practice alone until you get good enough. Today! Today is the day I take the first step on the road of becoming Chad Guitarman! Let’s go!”

 

He felt it, he felt that nothing will stop him now, and he will wait for nothing. The time is now! And so, Brent decided to take the first step towards fulfilling his dreams. Unfortunately, that first step happened to be in front of a truck.


 

There was shock. There was pain. And then there was knowledge, that after he closes his eyes, he won’t open them again, and so he wept in his heart, because he couldn’t do even that with his unwilling body. Finally, there was nothing, not even dreams.


 

Or at least that’s what it felt like. And yet, he was now here. Where is “here”? 

“Okay. I was hit by a fucking truck. How the hell didn’t I notice it? Was it one of those electric trucks? They are too quiet! They are a menace on our roads! I hope my parents sue whoever made them!”

“Sniff. Sorry Mom. You told me to always be careful when crossing the street”. Brent suddenly felt a wave of sadness thinking about his parents. He wasn’t their only child but… I looked around to find a corner to cry and wale about what I did, and what I didn’t do, and how stupid I was. What I found instead was… what the hell is this?”

How do you describe something that seems to change every time you try to concentrate on it? In front of ex-Brent (RIP Brent, may he rest in peace), on a throne of gold sat an ancient monster. It seemed to be ten meters tall (hard to tell, as even it’s height seemed to fluctuate) humanoid, with an animal head. First it was an ox, with skin of withered stone, when it moved glimmers of light reflected on the cracks, making one think if it’s actually stone hiding precious gems within.

Even the throne, if it can be called that, was ever changing. He swore a moment ago an oil lamp was illuminating this room, he turned his head only for a moment to look at the reliefs decorating it, only for it to become a torch. As if not to be outdone, the reliefs changed styles and eras as well, yet the characters adorning them always looked alive. Wait, they are actually moving! Are they…

The God/Devil/Alien/Thing looked at Brent, with its now goat head, and he got suddenly pulled closer. The feeling of being pulled with a force made him realise that he still has a “body”, though a quick look down made him realise he is naked (his sergeants whereabouts not confirmed, due to being an overweight bastard). 

Creature raised their hand, and put it on his chest, then pushed in. It was so surreal, he didn’t even know how to react. He stared helplessly as the hand punctured his skin and flesh, as if he was a clay doll in the hands of a small child. His heart, still beating, went out.

The ripped out heart was put on the right plate of a scale (where did it come from? Also, that’s my heart! I hope you disinfected it first! And put on a mask!), while the left hand put… a small seed on the other side. Surprising no one, the heart was indeed heavier than the seed. Brent missed the moment it (now insect headed) took out another item, this time a beetle shaped stone, and swapped it for a seed. Yet the heart was still heavier. He did not understand what the purpose of all of this was, it should be easy to find things much closer to the weight of his heart, like a hamburger, or his smartphone, which he always used incognito mode on, (no need to worry about this at least). Now it’s a.. Crystal (obviously too small), then a spider (when it was on Brent thought he felt a scream of thousand weebs, shouting in harmony), a seed again.. Oh wait it tipped! And it tipped due to a tooth? What the hell

Suddenly He felt a tension in the air. The old God looked at me, this time just a human. An ancient, aborigenal looking human, tiredly and sadly looking at me, with their milky eyes. The sun was rising, and I felt it. I felt that I’m really dead. That this really is the end. That when the dawn comes, Brent will be no more, and that I have to move on, and see it with my own eyes.

But a childish whisper in my heart, said no. Brent, the stubborn child Brent, bane of kindergarten teachers, still had dreams he refused to wake up from, so he just covered his eyes, and while the new sun scorched his skin he did not peek. Finally, after an amount of time that felt both short and long it stopped, but Brent was no longer there.

 


 

Greater Shadow Snake, coiled around her eggs. She Mothered hundreds of snakelings living in this valley over the years, and she knew the process well, yet she was not calm. She double checked the covering of the lair she prepared. She had enough food in her to last two months if needed. Her instincts told her to just lay down and not move, to minimize the usage of energy, and maximize chances of survival, there was nothing she could do now. But, over the past two years, she started doing things that her instincts didn’t tell her to. She didn’t know why that was, and right now she didn’t care. 

What she did care about, was one of the eggs. It was smaller then others, yet its shell seemed sturdier. It’s not the first time it has happened, but when that happened earlier, it seemed to her just normal. An unfortunate occurrence. She wasn’t supposed to help her children leave the egg, those who failed were too weak, They might make the snake blood weaker. Most eggs that were.. Different, didn’t even get to try, all sound inside suddenly stopping, never to resume again. The first time she refused her instincts, the last time she laid eggs, happened due to such egg. She was hungry, and she should have used it as an emergency ration. She knew it was dead. But she refused. And since then, something always seemed weird.

She moved the weird egg closer to the center, where it was warmer. She flicked her tongue at it, trying to sense what was happening inside. She hasn’t sensed anything in two days. But then, very slightly, but to her high level skills very noticeably, the egg moved. She flicked her tongue at it again, and laid her head down. She fell asleep, and dreamed, the same dreams all mothers dream.

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