“I felt myself being invaded through and through, I crumbled, disintegrated, and only emptiness remained.”
— Stanislaw Lem
You told me you thought you were thirteen when the Fell… were. We don’t know when they arrived — and can never know — do we? If your memory is exact that makes you sixteen; seventeen at the most.
Most of your memories, your deepest memories, of parents, friends have evaporated into that for which you are the host. Many of them are mingled with the thoughts of the Fell within. And that is sad.
What you do remember is the nights you hid wherever you could. Hiding from the unruly. Those who for whatever reason did not fall under the sway of the Fell. Mostly men after a while. Men who looked at you as prey.
The first night that you slept in the open on a roof, the stars as a nightlight, you were awakened not by the sound of their footsteps. Something inside you caused you to go on alert. Two of them much bigger than you came up silently. They grabbed you quickly, roughly. Clawing at you, at your clothes.
What you described to me wasn’t a struggle. You recalled the first one’s look of shock as he went over the edge. He never cried out. The second one threw out his hands, signalling surrender, as you gripped him by his exposed flesh. You who had never seen a boy, neutered a man in the blue-blackness of night. His death was an agony you carried with you for many days and nights.
Eventually, the attempted assaults — the deaths at your hands — brought you to the place emotionally where every warrior must come if she is to survive. You stopped seeing them as humans; merely threats. You can’t even tell me how many men and women you have had to battle.
In that alone we stand on even ground.
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For the March Speculative Fiction Challenge, at D. Wallace Peach / Myths of the Mirror.