Chapter 1 Untouchable Dreams
No wrens sang, nor woodpecks knocked, the world about him was still. A splash of crimson sprayed across his face as a cacophony of rage coursed through his mind. Everything in this singular moment was drowned out by his emotions set ablaze by the loss felt in his heart. Another splash of blood flew as the knife plunged into his victim. A third strike, a fourth, the horrific violence continued unrelenting as his boundless anger poured out of him.
Kyer’s strong arms found no difficulty wielding the weapon and he allowed the sharp edge to work itself deeper into the prone frame locked beneath him. Blood ceased to spurt out of the punctured areas; as the owner’s heart soon went lifeless. Still the enraged boy continued the slaughtering; his innocence being lost with each strike.
Kyer rolled his head back for a second to catch his breath, taking in the surroundings of his parent’s lake front home. There had been so many fond memories in this house, but today those recollections were sullied by the intrusion and death of his mother.
The serene morning had called to her, drawing her out onto the porch. It was there where she sipped her brew and enjoyed the vista of the rising sun across the cove’s calm waters. It was also the location where her life would become forfeit by the hands of a murderous rogue.
His only intention was to steal from the Hauzer family. Yet he made an unfortunate miscalculation. He had not expected anyone to be awake. When the mother came out on that porch; it had startled the novice thief and before he even realized what he had done, his blade had found the lady’s chest. She was sent to the deck gasping her final breaths of life.
Kyer’s vision quickly took on a life of its own, as he spied something in his periphery. In the distance, dancing on top of the lake waters was a white and golden pillar of energy. Kyer watched it glide towards him, a calming and rhythmic movement. The closer it got to him the more at ease he became and the anger of losing his mother waned.
The ethereal light touched the shoreline and crackled, reacting to the new medium. Its golden rings swirling faster, the intensity of the beam grew brighter and overwhelmed him. His grip on the knife slackened as he lost focus of reasons to be holding it. More important to him now was determining the origin and reason for the light.
Kyer reached out to the heavenly creation, the knife falling out of his palm as he did. A violent pulse of white then flashed blinding him entirely.
“Kyer? Kyer are you still with us?” ribbed the older boy named Jaemiea.
Kyer jostled about coming to his senses. His daydream cut short by a familiar voice of both a friend and boss man. He stood up and staggered over to the nearby water bucket. The scum layer broke apart as the young man dipped the ladle through it. The flimsy can filled with water and was extracted by the small length of wooden dowel. He then brought the make-shift implement to his lips and sipped lightly.
Kyer Hauzer struggled daily to ease his mind from the loss of his mother. He had arrived too late and failed to save her; a murder that had left him orphaned and incarcerated. It was now two years into his life term sentence and the memory of that tragic day lingered with him with an unbearable weight.
Long summer days at the Brethen Prison Quarry, located just west of the providence of Eshendown, wore at him. For nearly two weeks, Kyer had been reliving nightmarish dreams. They were moments in time that had been lost to him and only now coming back. The dreams were memories that he would rather have left buried deep in his psyche and yet something had triggered their return.
“This one must have been rough Hauzer. I don’t think I have ever seen you look so pale, you are stricken with this ailment or fever, more so with each passing day.” The young Jaemiea said referring to the dream Kyer was waking up from.
“How much longer do we have for this break? I could use a few more minutes.”
Jaemiea looked over his shoulder judging both the time of day by the position of the sun and more importantly whether or not there were any guards around. Jaemiea then turned back to Kyer and silently mouthed the words, ‘no time,’ while shaking his head; a guard was indeed nearby.
The young prisoners were allowed three rest periods throughout the course of the day. This one was their morning break and Kyer, understanding his daydream had consumed his break time already, looked forward to lunch still several hours away.
Kyer’s recent visions were quick and undefined in his mind’s eye, having no purpose or measured reason to them. He was unable to lock his focus on any particular image save one. In each episode, at night or by day, a single point of bright light was shown. They were golden slivered shafts that felt as portals to somewhere else.
To Kyer, they were tears in the very fabric of the Dream World itself. There was nothing neither ominous nor malicious about them and if anything the light called out to him, beckoning him to continue in search of their origins. In every dream the light shafts were always unattainable to his touch and his understanding.
The frantic pace of the visions was growing close together as did the increase of frailty to his body. Alongside the dreams was the downward spiral of his constitution. Kyer could only assume the connection of the two was not coincidental. He, like his buddy Jaemiea, pondered if this was some sort of fever induced illness that was consuming his mind and body.
“Just another minute Jaemiea, I beg of you.”
“Be quick Hauzer.” Jaemiea pleaded not wishing for the trouble the delays could get them both in. His friend was in agony, and he felt bad for Kyer. In the end Jaemiea’s sympathy for his friend’s desperate situation outweighed his duties as a boss man.
Kyer took another drink of water and moved over to the bench that ran alongside the water cooler. His arms were aching and he kept his head lowered to try and shield his eyes from the intense sun that swept across the site. He wiped a bead of sweat from his brow; it was going to be a hard day.
Out of the corner of Kyer’s eye and several hundred feet away he could make out the ever moving chain of teenaged inmates moving in and out of the quarry. They were slow in their movement, but who could blame them. Their duties were simple and monotonous with no foreseeable end to the project. The hillside’s rocky crag swallowed up these societal rejects without remorse and spat them out on the far side of the cliff wall. Empty handed on one side and on the other, an arm’s length worth of orange rock.
The quarry was a simple layout being arranged in an oblong circular pattern. On one long side was the main cliff face that rose close to one hundred feet above the workers. On either side were the worker lines with the left acting as the entrance and right side as the exit. The opposite side from the cliff was the dump site, a sheer drop off of unforgiving depth.
Once the two friends had made their way back to the worker lines Jaemiea broke into a whispered conversation.
“Hauzer you have been slipping into those daydreams more and more in the past two weeks.”
“I know, mostly they come to me at night while I sleep, but as you can see they have found me at all hours of the day. I am so tired Jaemiea. When I do find sleep, my body is restless as the visions I am having are taking on the manner of nightmares more so than peaceful dreams.”
Hauzer, as the boys tended to call him, neglected to tell his boss man and friend about the golden ‘magical’ shafts of light seen in his dreams. He was an educated boy, one of the few at the site, and to speak of such mystical devices might lower the perception many had of him. Such qualities of respect of one’s mind were hard to come by in a place like the quarry and he could not afford to lose such a status nor a good friend in Jaemiea. Instead Kyer relayed the overall theme of his dreams; in particular he spoke of the events surrounding his mother’s murder.
“The dreams focus on her.”
“Yeah, I’m not sure why, but they do. You think she is trying to send me a message from the Grave World?” Kyer shrugged.
Jaemiea returned the shrug, “Maybe, one thing is for certain.”
“She needs to let you get some rest.”
“I know Jaemiea, I know.” He agreed.
“The Ministers are not going to care whether or not your dead mom is communing to you from the Grave World. In fact they will probably beat you and throw you over the cliff for just mentioning such a wild thing.”
“You don’t really believe me do you?”
Jaemiea shrugged again, “I don’t know Kyer. Something is different about you, that much is for certain.”
Kyer gave a small smile, happy that his friend understood his troubles.
“Doesn’t matter though Hauzer, the Minister’s won’t believe you. Sure, I have never known you to be sick. More importantly, I have never known you to be delusional either. However, they won’t care.”
Again Kyer Hauzer agreed but remained silent letting the other kid finish his thought.
“I really just don’t know what has come over you. Bad water?”
“Heh, then you’d be seeing stuff too.”
They both snickered a little louder than they should have, but luckily no one other than a pair of young prisoners seemed to notice. Jaemiea Sullivan had befriended Kyer knowing the boy incapable of such violence that he had been incarcerated for. Supposedly, Kyer Hauzer had killed his mother and her lover in a brutal stabbing. Jaemiea however was well aware of how the system could sometimes falter and take the innocent.
Selfishly though, Jaemiea was glad to have had Kyer join the prison, it finally gave him a decent buddy to spend the long days with, not to mention that Hauzer actually listened to his orders. Boss men were resident inmates termed for life. These young men, now in their twenties, had served in the quarry for no less than five years.
In the course of the five years, life termed inmates would either prove themselves worthy of the role of a boss man or not. With the title and duties of a boss man came several benefits including better sleeping arrangements and considerably less manual labor. Many of the boys longed for this title and did their best to try and earn it.
This was exactly the intention of this incentive program. The Ministers of the quarry had derived this formula of social engineering in an effort to maintain order and discipline. The young kids would behave if for no other reason than the hope of one day being a boss man themselves. It never occurred to the kids to make notice that no adult prisoners walked amongst them.
Kyer had only been there for two years and although he had made a name for himself as a hard worker he was by no means ready to warrant the freedoms associated with being a boss man.
Still in the morning’s fog, his mind adrift, he heard Jaemiea, his boss man call out to him again. “Hauzer! Wake up. You were about to drift off again, I can tell.” This time the request was more urgent and slightly threatening.
It was true Kyer’s mind was weak and drifted and as a result he had been standing idle for far too long. He needed to get his act together and get back to work.
The advantage to having boss men like Jaemiea around was to have a friendly face keep you in line before having to resort to the next line of authority, the Ministers. These ruthless individuals had very little feelings for the child inmates, resident or otherwise. They barked out orders and were known to beat prisoners on a regular basis. Today was no different either; a small show of this brutality was evident as Kyer made his way to his station and watched the young man two down from him limp away. The boy’s clothes were tattered and his face bloodied.
It was common place, this vision of boys and girls broken down to the lowest state. To those whom lived here it was called the ‘horrors of the quarry.’ It was a whisper under the breath to each other that had gone through this living hell. It was an effort among them to breathe some measure of relief to the minds of the Minister’s victims.
Every now and then an inmate would succumb to the endless tortures of these vile men and perish. On those days the whispers, “Horrors of the Quarry,” were spoken more vocal. It was those days and those alone that the phrase was allowed to be spoken aloud without repercussion. All other times the punishment for this saying, if overheard, was undoubtedly a beating. Not that the Ministers needed an excuse to strike an individual, but it certainly did not help.
One in particular was called Minister Drednir or ‘Dread’ for short as more commonly known and used by the young inmates. He was the worst offender of beating the prisoners and it was solely based on his mood. He was almost always buzzed and often times drunk completely. Dread’s impaired judgment and terrible perceptions of what he perceived inmates were saying about him kept Dread in a steady state of desire for thrashing them.
Minister Drednir cared little of whom was the target of his violence, he just wanted to project out his hatred towards someone, anyone. He enjoyed more than anything the look of fear in the eyes of his victims.
Hauzer was one of the hardier young men of the site and therefore given the task of rock chipping. Not exactly a chore desired or sought out after, but one that allowed an individual some sort of isolation from the constant chatter of other inmates. The prisoners were not supposed to speak and generally did not while out and about the dump site located on the perimeter of the quarry. The dig site where Kyer worked his long days however was fair game for idle inmate talking and gossiping.
There was one specific difference that kept the rock chipping area apart from other areas of the quarry. Ministers did not generally bother with patrolling it; they felt themselves above that station leaving such duties to lesser men. This left the maintenance of prisoners in the rock chipping area to be controlled by the boss men.
The young men in these roles were much more lenient on matters such as talking.
Hauzer did not like this facet of the quarry and wished the boss men would not be so forgiving. Kyer could not stand the ramblings of other inmates. Most of them were self-proclaimed innocent boys and girls whom were wronged in their previous lives. Others were mumbling incoherently on the verge of insanity.
What irked Kyer Hauzer most though were those who ranted about the system. They moaned over every little thing and were vocal about how inhumane the Ministers were. It was the obvious things that people spoke of that bothered Kyer. Why state things that all people could see or understand, it added no value.
So Hauzer was content with swinging the hammer into the rock. Its loud crashes combined with the other rock chippers’ hammering out all at different moments created a cloud of ambient noise that drowned out all else around them. In this noise cloud was solace, a peace that allowed him to think about his past. A past, although recently tainted, was full of very memorable moments that he struggled daily to try and keep fresh in his head.
Unfortunately this task of savoring memories was getting harder with each passing day at the quarry. Quite possibly the cruelest and therefore more horrific thing about the quarry was that loss of memory of when times were good to a person.
Vibrations from his hammering that normally were soothing to the muscles were today painful. His sleep deprived body ached all over. The ongoing restless nights had taken their toll on him. Kyer was required to fulfill a quota of rock chipping each day.
Therefore, even though he felt pain from head to toe, he dare not miss the goal. To not fulfill this amount was to beg for a beating from the wooden batons that hung at each of the Ministers hips. Kyer was in no condition to receive such blows.