The Hidden Enemy
The Warrior in the Shadow of the Leaves in,
The leaves whistled and tree tops bristled at the mysterious silhouette floating through its branches, brushing them for no longer than a few sacred moments, fading in and out of time and this dimension. It was as if these trees were haunted by their very shadows. A flickering illusion, sounded out, only by the pale moonlight, even then, seeming otherworldly, an elusive visitor from another place. What was this foreign being and why was it here? It’s clandestine approach belying its intention. Was it friend or foe? With darkness as its ally one could only assume the worst; it hugged the night like the faceless creatures of our nightmares. Now aware of its presence, its movements became more apparent, I had become smarter and more adept at tracking this whisper between the branches, it moved like a rumour, and as each out reached branch whispered its unknown story to the next, the intrigue increased, so too did the irregularity of its existence. I started to question what I was seeing, could this be real? Am I painting mystery where there is none? It could only be a mystery if I conceded to never discovering the truth, a question with no answer. No, this was either my imagination, the workings of my psyche or I was indeed witnessing this silent assailant traversing the landscapes of my mind as a haunting shadow lingering only in the periphery of what I could perceive. I honed my skills. Set up my vantage points and at each intersection I could possibly remember seeing it, I placed my observers. They were all programmed to detect any sign of this intruder.
You know, the power of the unknown is in the fact that it is unknown, the imagination is a powerful ally and an effective foe, what we do not know can cripple us. It sends our minds into frenzy, a blank canvas to project our paranoia upon. My paranoia was at fever pitch, at every turn questioning my sanity, was this phantom real, haunting me then mocking me, every time I thought I caught a glimpse of it, I was only met with the sight of vacant spaces filled with mist and smoke.
Then steadily I became immersed in the smoke, the scent of burning embers, always smouldering somewhere in the distance. I was covered in this haze of war, myself now a forsaken wanderer, an accidental spy, in this forest of lies and deception. All I was seeking was the truth to this illusion. I was certain I was being stalked now, by this phantasm, this spectre, this maleficent spirit of my delusional mind. It seemed to mirror me, as I got smarter it did. It moved as a shadow in my shadow. When I walked in the light it moved in the shadows of everything around me and as I walked in the darkness, it enveloped me. My feet weary of trekking this forsaken land in search of a ghost; I had accepted the mystery as a mystery now and sought to find my peace. This world became my world and as my madness drove me to the edge of a cliff. I scream. “Show me your face. Why are you here? What do you want from me?” I bawled into the great void. A silent moment, the void and I shared seemed to last somewhere near an eternity. And then.
I was met with a sharp pain right behind my heart and the sound of my flesh being pierced open, warmth scurried down my back before I felt my legs give in as I dropped to my knees, I realised it was blood rushing down my back, and as the cold metal drew out from my back it was now gushing like the stream that turns into a river in winter. I drop again crawling to drag myself over the edge of the cliff, where gravity would embrace me and draw me to my end. My blood drenched body, surrounded by a carousel of mirrors all holding the reflection of the wanderer that I had become. Meeting my death with a smile, no longer seeking to unravel the mystery that had consumed me for all my waking days, I turn to face my cowardly assailant, the deepest depths of me hoping for the face of a stranger. I see the strangest thing.
I look upon my own face, blackened by shadow, paled by lack of light. The colour of coals and ash mixed on this dark consumed version of me. I was chasing nothing but myself and at the moment I embraced what I could never know, it was revealed to me. I scream and this scream echoes through my entire life, it transcends time and it is heard by me in the past and the future now lost. My ego had defeated me. And as I turn again in agony, dragging my life’s procession over the edge of the cliff, slowly swallowed by gravity, awaiting the thud of the ground, quietly lusting that tiniest moment before my death, where pain would free me, the darkened version of me starts laughing in ecstasy. Joy. The type that could not be confused, it is not evil. It is pain leaving his form. It is pure benevolence. He is liberated. My ego is dead. I have departed.