[personal profile] ashtreelane
Where is the dwelling place of light?
And where is the house of darkness?

Time passes. How much, it's impossible to say.
Go about; walk the limits of the land.
Turns reveal more of the same: more corridors, more corners. Doors begin to appear with less regularity, then stop altogether.
                                      ins to rise, but only briefly before it 
                                    g                                                    f
                                  e                                                        a
                                b                                                             l
A few times, the floor                                                                  ls again, and

It's getting colder.
The walls burn when bare skin touches them.

Do you know a path between them?


It could be as long as days before the corridor ends at a single door, as nondescript as everything else in this house.

It's unlocked.

Date: 2006-11-21 06:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] grimy-brian.livejournal.com
It's unlocked.

Which, y'know, could go either way; this place is not to be trusted and this place is not to be given in to and this place is not to be so totally not to be stayed in which, okay, handle. Handle, door, keep turning left keep one hand on the wall and you'll get out eventually -

- only he wasn't expecting so soon.

Brian trips, and stumbles, and falls, 'cos he wasn't thinking flat ground, grass, trees. And he lands on his side lands on conker in pocket, and it's probably another bruise but he's okay with them. That's what's called normal, which he wasn't thinking he'd get, so much, again.

And for a moment? For a moment it's totally familiar.

(# well known or easily recognized; "a familiar barman"; "familiar sounds"; "familiar friends"
# within normal everyday experience; common and ordinary; not strange; "familiar ordinary objects found in every house"; "a familiar everyday scene".
#a monster that has been tamed.)

For a moment there's the soft sound of lakewater on the shore, and there's breeze in leaves, and there's the reassurance of the bar behind him. For a moment he almost hears laughter. Then

(blink and you'll miss it)

it's gone.

It's... this place is less ostentatious. Family homes and gardens, and what the hell is he doing here? And - screw it. Who the hell cares? He rolls over in the grass that smells like real grass, warmed by the

sky is featureless, white and grainy black, shifting and popping like
film stock about to start. He expects a countdown. Expects something to happen.

Date: 2006-11-21 07:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] truantjohnny.livejournal.com
How long have I been wandering?

Has it been days? Years?

My watch stopped working a long, long time ago. I had food for at least two weeks. Had water for, well, for a fucking long time, really. It was like something out of a Dungeons and Dragons game, that bottle. It stopped working, too. I sang, in the darkness, I remember that. I remember scalding my palms on the terrible cold, remember down, down, down, remember calm, no real panic, just acceptance, knowing that this was where I was supposed to end, knowing it was right.

Maybe it was the cold, the damned neverending cold. I forgot about cold. Cold in Alaska was never like this. A wind that blows right through you is one thing, but this slow, creeping cold. Like a vampire, this cold. It saps you, slowly, nothing you can do about it. Keep moving.

And all of a sudden there's this door, and my flickering flashlight is dying, and I accept this, and I turn the handle--

And there is more light than I've ever known.

Grass, green, raping my eyes, stinging, like fire, like tears, like blood, like breath.

And there's a boy, a man, a


kid rolling around in the grass, and I can't do anything but look, the human form somehow so alien now, I've been in the dark so long, and I say


And I'm surprised how cracked and weak my voice sounds.

Date: 2006-11-21 07:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] grimy-brian.livejournal.com
"Dude!" says Brian, head tilted so he's looking at Johnny (the world) upside down.

(He's been waiting.)

Date: 2006-11-21 07:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] truantjohnny.livejournal.com
And I grin, I can't help it, all cracked and half-rotten, wondering if Dante smiled like this, And I go to him, and offer a hand up.

"Hey, man. Name's Johnny."

I look up at the sky, all flickerflash and crackling, like thunder, like celloid, and I wonder how I got further than Navidson, wondering if this film-stamp on the sky is his mark, wonder if he changed this place that much, wonder if I changed it, wonder if it can change. If I can change.

"Is this the end?"

Date: 2006-11-21 07:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] grimy-brian.livejournal.com
"This is the end, my friend."

And his voice? Weirdly not that bad. Not Jim Morrison, okay, but apparently that takes, like, Val Kilmer so he's pretty much easy with it.

"Brian." And he grins, wide and crazy 'cos the house is screwed but this place is alive.


Will be.

Should be.

Would that it could be.

"Funny thing," taking Johnny's hand, pulling himself to his feet, "pretty sure I just came from the end."

Date: 2006-11-21 07:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] truantjohnny.livejournal.com
I like this kid. He's a goofball. I can appreciate that. Anyone who can be a goofball after that place is alright in my book.

"Like Dante. Have to go past Satan to get out of Hell."

This must be the very end of the world. Or the very beginning.

"I wonder how long we were in there for..."

It's so bright.

Date: 2006-11-21 07:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] grimy-brian.livejournal.com
"Dude, can totally get past Satan."

Brian looks curiously up at the house Johnny emerged from.

(They always look so much smaller from the outside.)

"Just need to have the right connections, seriously. My mate Adam, him and Satan? Like this." He holds up crossed fingers, and then kinda reconsiders 'cos that's just not quite the right hand gesture. He experiments with a couple different configurations, then pretty much gives up.

"They're tight, man."

"And, dude. Dunno how long we were in there. Feels kinda like forever and also not, but I was long enough on the grass there to get pins and needles in my arse."

Hopeful smile. That help?

Date: 2006-11-21 08:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] truantjohnny.livejournal.com
I look at him. I'm still smiling. It hurts my lips.

"You," I say, "are one crazy son of a bitch."

I shove my hands in my pockets. All this warmth. Too much. There's something in my pocket, like a stone, my fingers curling around it, I don't question.

"Now what?"

Do we end here? I don't think so, somehow. I smell sour, all dried-cold sweat and unwashed body, my boots scuffing at the grass, nervous now, squinting and blinking at the light, and I don't know why I'm so calm, still.

Date: 2006-11-21 08:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] grimy-brian.livejournal.com
"Son of a preacher man," he says quietly, and it's maybe the most sensible thing he's said so far, head tilted to one side and smile retreated a little way from his mouth.

(This might be why he held on so much longer than the others. First and last and greatest rebellion, My Friend The Antichrist, 'cos even when he didn't know, he knew.)

"Now - " Brian pulls a conker out of his pocket, tosses it from one hand to the other. "I dunno, Brain. What do you wanna do?"

Date: 2006-12-05 06:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] truantjohnny.livejournal.com
A few more breaths, tasting this air, all heavy and warm and deep, and I am grateful, all of a sudden, feeling trembling and new, after all that old, all that cold, all that death.

"What, man, you wanna toss the pigskin around? Though that looks more like a rock than a ball."

The absurdity is perfect, is fitting, is right and good. Because what about this hasn't been absurd? The end of hell is playing ball.

Date: 2006-12-06 07:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] grimy-brian.livejournal.com
"People living in glass houses..."

He looks around absently.

"This place should have a greenhouse. Or, like... I dunno. Red. Negatives. And it's not a stone, too, doofus. Can't play conkers with a stone, man, get disqualified and Pepper'd beat you."

Doesn't feel right, though, not quite, though.

"Dunno 'bout conkers, though. Killing it seems kinda - " he shrugs. "Ungrateful, maybe?"

Date: 2006-12-14 07:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] truantjohnny.livejournal.com
I wonder how long it's been waiting, this crazy celluloid sky, expecting hisses and pops and (maybe) long low growls, still, the silent song of the dark still ringing loud in my ears, my fingers fumbling with the smooth not-stone in my pocket, feeling it almost warm in my hand.

"No. We shouldn't kill it."

It's beautiful, almost opalescent, and I wonder what the egg of a phoenix looks like, wonder at what power brought me here, to this place, all roomy and sunlight.

It's not cheap.

It never was.

"What should we do with it, Brian?" brother

Date: 2006-12-14 10:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] grimy-brian.livejournal.com
And he landed on his side, on the conker in his pocket, and he presses a little on the bruise to make it stab just 'cos. Just in case. He doesn't know hypothermia, doesn't know longer words 'cos the letters dance out of place, doesn't know symptoms or whether it comes with dreams.

I hung on that windy tree for nine nights wounded by my own spear.

"I figure horticulture," he says, voice floating a little way adrift like he's not quite talking for himself, like it's


from somewhere else. "Make a wood, like its - "
" - like it's Milliways."
I hung to that tree, and no one knows where it is rooted.

Date: 2006-12-14 11:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] truantjohnny.livejournal.com
And the echo sounds strange, in this light, this warmth. Still, what about this hasn't been strange? Strange and stranger still, and I feel like a stranger now, maybe, like I don't deserve any of this, but maybe I do, maybe those years and aeons of dark, maybe it was penance, maybe it was all to prepare for this.

"Yeah. Plant it."

I haven't planted a thing in my life.

Maybe it's time to start.

Date: 2006-12-14 11:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] grimy-brian.livejournal.com
"Bite me," says Brian cheerfully, already looking around for someplace where a tree would make sense. There's no sort of anger in his voice or anything, it just kinda sounded like it should go there. Like Johnny's

(one of Them)

a mate or something.

Date: 2006-12-15 12:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] truantjohnny.livejournal.com
"And fuck you." I'm grinning, like a moron. Like an idiot child. Like he's Lude, from so long ago, or Red, or any of the other people who've walked this long dark road with me. Or a brother. My brother.

My own- what'd he call it? A conker?- is in my hand, all waiting warmth, and I'm looking around, myself.

"If I was a tree, where would I be?"

Date: 2006-12-26 08:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] grimy-brian.livejournal.com
When Brian was a kid he managed to find all the mud. It was a kind of a knack. He could get muddy in the middle of a shopping centre, a carpark, find the only patch of dark soil in the middle of the green.

"Here," he says with a certainty that's kinda rare, when it comes to him. "I reckon we found it."

Date: 2006-12-29 03:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] truantjohnny.livejournal.com
And this is it, without doubt or fear or qualms, natural as breath, as trees, as sun, as deeply ingrained in the bones and the skin and the soul as laughter, or song, or orgasm.

"Yeah. That looks about right."

The stone-that-is-not-stone feels heavy in my hand, feels light, feels as smooth and warm as an egg.

"You wanna do the honors, my man?"

Date: 2006-12-29 03:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] grimy-brian.livejournal.com
"Nah," he says, settling himself next to the patch of dirt and leaning back on his elbows, just taking time enough to toss his conker onto the ground before he relaxes back. "I'm more your actual observer type, man. Never was much of a one for the grand gesture."

Date: 2007-01-03 10:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] truantjohnny.livejournal.com
It's everything, this leaf, these roots, this tree, and my mouth is hanging loose, my fingers are too, everything else is far, far away. There is no everything else. This is all. And my face is wet, warm, tears like blood on my face, this is where all my tomorrows have come to. All this ash.

Maybe something falls from me, here.

All that dark, all that cold, and this small leaf (but galaxies are small) is telling me yes. Telling me warm. Telling me light. I could stay, until I am fertilizer for it, my eyes and hands and heart to tend this tree, until there are no eyes, no hands, no heart anymore, just this, holding up the world.

"It's beautiful."

Date: 2007-01-03 11:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] grimy-brian.livejournal.com


Immediately after, before Johnny has stopped speaking, echoing before the first has died away.

Then he shakes his head, grins like a child.

"Did I do that?"

Date: 2007-01-17 04:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] truantjohnny.livejournal.com
"I think maybe you did. We did."

And the darkness contracts like a woman in labor, and I am feeling some root, some primal fear, the fear that has fled me for this whole long dark journey, the reality now slamming into my gut like a fist, birthing from me like some monstrous child, and I am rooted like the tree is rooted, all I can do is watch in shock, and awe, and the undeniable rightness. Yes. This beginning, this is my end. Let it consume me, running through my blood, through every bone and every synapse and every dark and deserted hallway of my soul. Let me die in this half-light.

o my brother
"Run, Brian."

Date: 2007-01-17 06:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] grimy-brian.livejournal.com
Where there was nothing is a tree, and where there was (almost) sky there is nothing, and he looks anywhere but at that because it's beautiful the way the end of the universe is beautiful, and it's terrifying, and

(you don't scare me)

he'd lied.

He grabs onto Johnny's sleeve, grabs and holds on tight because otherwise he thinks he might fall over. Lopsided. Imbalanced.
It's not just him, though; the world is moving, falling apart, and the only way is back into the house. Back into the dark.


(This beginning,)


(this is my end)

before he starts to run.

(Let me die in this half-light.)


on Ash Tree Lane

January 2007

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