Chapter 1 : Prologue.
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He placed his pale hand over the cold doorknob and twisted it slowly. The door swung open, revealing a horrific sight. He froze, staring at the scene before him. A man lay dead, sprawled out at a funny angle, on the cold, concrete floor. A snake, also motionless, was wrapped tightly around the man.
The last moments of this man’s life flashed before Kieran’s eyes, the scene playing vividly inside his mind.
The man, gasping and desperately fumbling around him, clutching snatches of stale air, struggling to hold himself steady as the snake curls itself about his ankles, breathing venomous poison on the surface of the man’s bare skin, snaking quickly further up the man’s legs, until the man cannot keep his balance any longer, and tumbles to the floor with a yelp of pain. His back thuds dully against the concrete and he groans in agony as the snake hisses more deadly poison upon his naked body, winding itself around his stomach now. Squeezing. Tightening its grip. The man flings his head back and attempts to breathe, resisting the creature’s efforts to squash the breath out of him. His dark, black hair becomes plastered to his slightly rounded face, which is becoming steadily more scarlet as the snake coils itself painfully around his chest, crushing his ribs. The man yells for help, however no one can hear him. He is alone as he breathes his last, gasping breath. The snake dies with him.
Kieran stared at the man’s huge, bulging brown eyes as they stared emptily above him, seeing nothing. There was no longer a personality hidden behind those eyes. They were cold, scared and angry. They glared evilly from their sockets, chilling the hairs on Kieran’s spine. The man no longer had a soul. His dull, lifeless eyes gave him away.
He removed his gaze from the man to let his eyes roam around the dark room. It is completely empty, apart from a grey feather placed on the seat of a small wooden chair beside the wall.
Looking around cautiously, Kieran made a dash for the feather, before turning and sprinting swiftly from the room. He didn’t look back. Kieran bolted up the stone stairs, panting heavily, his breathing coming in rapid breaths. His footsteps echoed inconsistently around the hallway, bouncing deafeningly against the walls and hallow ceiling.
Once he reached the top of the winding staircase, he sped through the heavy wooden door & swung it shut behind him. Taking in greedy gulps of fresh air hungrily, Kieran sat on the floor, his back against the door, as if someone might lash out from behind it. He was the barricade. He stole a quick look at the feather, clutched between his long fingers, before carefully standing up and promptly leaving the mysterious house.
He was outside in the cool breeze. Sighing, he ran a shaking hand through the shiny, midnight coloured locks on top of his head. He shoved the feather into the pocket of his jacket, and strolled along the street. Looking up with crystal blue eyes, he gazed at the sky. It was beginning to darken, a small sprinkle of stars scattered around the velvety folds of clouds and oxygen. A perfect sky.
Kieran dragged his seventeen year old body towards a patch of dense, dark trees at the far end of the desolate road. It was eerily silent, as always. He looked around and saw a single blackbird fly past, making no noise at all.
Kieran liked the silence; it was comforting. It swallowed him whole, drowning him in its thrilling secrets. It was mysterious, and private, yet it was available to anyone who sought it. Kieran enjoyed the peace because it allowed him to mull things over in his mind, and set them straight.
Kieran spent a lot of time alone, in the calm silence. Usually in the forest, otherwise at the small, one-room flat he rented. The silence didn’t disapprove of his choices. The silence didn’t argue back. The silence didn’t interrogate him constantly. The silence didn’t judge him. It didn’t have an opinion of him. It didn’t ask questions. It didn’t lie to him. The silence never betrayed him. It never abandoned him, never left him. Not unless he asked it to. The silence didn’t throttle him with merciless guilt. The silence was nothing to him, yet everything he could have hoped for.
He had reached the forest. He stood for a moment, scrutinising each individual tree with his stare. At last, he was satisfied, and began walking briskly into the looming trees. They towered high into the sky, but Kieran didn’t seem to notice. Otherwise, it didn’t bother him in the slightest. Not even when the trees were so thick, tall and ominous, that they completely blacked out the sky. In fact, he seemed to like that.
He strolled around the forest in the shadows for a while, before he perched himself comfortably on a tree stump, and fumbled in his pockets. A small pile of things were seated in a lump on his knees, before a loud hissing noise filled the silence, shortly followed by a large, billowing flame.
Kieran held the match high above his head as he examined the feather carefully. When the first match died away, he struck another… and another… and another. All the time, looking closely at the feather for any strange markings, or possibly even a message of some kind, but to no avail.
Finally, he gave up. Kieran stashed the feather back into his pocket alongside the matches, and pushed a path angrily through the trees, which snagged at him and pushed him from side to side aggravatingly, until he vanished between the dark trees.