Beyond The Fog

"You walk around in this world like you have a splinter in your mind. That makes me smile." The man in black smiled and outstretched his hand.

Thomas shook the man's head but said nothing.

"You see these great torches along the mountainside?" The man in black walked and pointed, his weathered face scanning the gloomy peaks. A large pack on his back made of different patches of cloth, full of unreadable writing. His vocal chords were wearing as well, cold air coming from his mouth, "Hundreds of years ago people were nailed to large wooden stakes and burned where those torches were.. and the people that did it..

"Well.." The man in black flicked Thomas's forehead with his index finger. "They thought their brains were alright."

"And who lights those torches now!?" Thomas asked, distress in his voice from the wind.

The man in black pulled out a flask and began twisting off the lid, "I don't know who they are!"

Thomas could smell the booze on the stranger's breath, "Is that where we are going? To find out?"

"We're not going that high up the mountain." The man in black smiled yellow-white, banging the flask against Thomas's chest and dropping it for him to catch. "We're going to where the graves are."

---

Brother,
First Letter,

By the time this letter gets to you, I suppose I will have made it ashore somewhere.  My face is looking scraggly, and its quite the annoyance.  I've decided to save my razors for more important things, like surviving.. or dying.  Pardon the black humor, this room has about as much light as I do optimism after being stranded at sea, but as long as I'm alive the goal still stands.  Food is getting scarcer, but we've rationed and we are okay; the captain's pet has died though, and I don't think he's too happy about that.

As you know, when we first boarded the ship it was a beautiful day, though I could've used a little more breeze just as the sails could have.  A couple weeks after the skies here were often streaked with orange and pink, like the optimistic mark of some alien god, sometimes offset with depressing, contemplative blues that make me think of times I was less alone.  I remember years ago when we camped in the desert and heard the footsteps and sounds of some giant beast, half-asleep and guns at our side, and we woke up to the graveyard that saved our lives.  But the days have been getting gloomier here, resembling home I suppose-- but with more fog.

Although everyone in this crew speaks the same language, there is more in the way of gloom than conversation.  Two men are dead, one went mad and shot himself; he was the only carpenter, who would've done any needed repairs.  They gave me his pistol, I told them I already knew how to use it, but secretly I had mixed feelings about taking it.  On the first day they said not to drink the sea water, the captain said that there was more than just salt in Warren's Ocean.  The man who shot himself drank the water.  The other man died in a storm that badly damaged one of our sails, but we managed to patch it with some wicker and the clothes of the two dead men.

Two days later after using the wicker, we found the spare rope the madman had hidden, along with pictures of strangers.  Some men said that they were his family members, but the frames seemed too expensive for them to be a carpenter's family.  His gun is strange as well, the initials carved on the handle do not match his name, and while my inclination is to believe that he might be a thief, the way he handled himself, and the way we would handle things under dire circumstances, suggest that he is a liar with such circumstances.  But the sea has taken him.  And his family, stolen or real, will be sold next to my merchandise when we reach land.

There is something stranger than grief which sails with us, I see it in the faces of those around me as I breath in the humid, foggy air here, and I often feel locked in one of those bittersweet moments where the weather matches this almost infinite negative feeling.  Everyone here seems to be increasingly on edge, we do our jobs, but the way we talk might be considered insane to any witness from land, as if you could imagine seeing endless beginnings of conversations that are heard but go nowhere.  We may not be drinking the water, but I sometimes fear that to some degree we are breathing it in, and in that regard, I'm not sure if I can even fully trust myself.

But at least a healthy respect for fear has kept us both alive.

---

Brother,
Second Letter,

I can't say that I've reached shore because what we've docked next to is not normal land, in fact, it appears to be some great machine sunken into the water.  We are running so low on food that we ate the captain's pet, he is a very unhappy man.  The lightning around this machine is intense, and there is wind and waves, but not enough to threaten the ship.  Two men snuck off in the night with one of the life rafts and a fair amount of food; after intense argument between the remaining crew about whether to chase after them, we decided to press onward and found ourselves in this perpetual storm which lead to the machine.

Do you remember the children's story of the iron titan?  There was a boy whose dreams he could not control, but they always came true.  One of his dreams was an iron titan who came from the stars to visit us and drowned or became stuck at the bottom of the sea.  I have never been so fascinated or so terrified by this "thing" we are standing on.  Though I am not a man educated in science, I cannot help but wonder if it is what is causing the perpetual lightning storm around us.  There are these gaps in the titan's head, like small crooks going into a large pool where fish seemed to have congregated and are too fearful to leave.  We have used this to our advantage, and filled our stomachs.  And though we all fear we may go mad or die soon, a sense of conversation has returned.

---

Brother,
Third Letter,

We took as much fish as we could and continued forward in hopes of finding land.  I am thankful that the lightning didn't hit the ship.  The storm has passed but the daylight fog has grown thicker and the constant lack of sunlight makes me feel like I have died and I am stuck in some limbo, or that I am dreaming and I cannot wake up.  There are so many things I miss.  We have salted all the fish we kept to keep them from rotting longer.

---

Brother,
Fourth Letter,

We found a real island but the fog will not seem to lift.  The trees here have thick trunks with little foliage, but curiously, not tropical-- each trunk bends at a point like a broken arm, they are unlike anything I have ever seen before.   We docked at night, and after one night of camping on shore, we decided to comb different parts of the island, barely made visible by the intense, endless fog.  We took our weapons with us just in case, but I don't know if this was a good idea.

I combed one side of the beach and found a strange trail of sea shells, which lead me to a child who was sleeping alone on the ocean shore.  I shook him a lot before he finally woke, but when he finally did there were tears in his eyes.  I asked him what was wrong and he said that he would tell me later.  Then I asked where the nearest town is, but he says he doesn't know.  I asked him about the machine, and he looked confused.. then I called it the titan, and his face lit up and he smiled.

"I dreamed about that." He said.

I asked if he could control his dreams at all.  He told me he had only done it one or two times.  I began to ask him more and more questions.  The boy told me that he hadn't seen anyone on the island for a very long time.  He said he didn't hunt, but lived off of whatever food he could find.  Sometimes, when he got hungry enough, he said that he had dreamed of food and then woke up to it.  My questioning to this boy in tattered clothes came back to the bad dream he initially had when I woke him.. and I ran to look for the crew, but they had taken the ship and abandoned me; just as the boy had dreamed.

I don't know why they abandoned me, if time passed more quickly for me than them.  I don't know what was real of my voyage on the ship, it all feels more and more like a dream the more I recall it.  I have thought of the pistol and the razors, and wonder if they could wake me, if this is all just a dream.. but I won't do it.  Although my sanity is wavering in all this grey air, and I question everything, I will shave, and I will hunt if needed.  The goal that I've set out to accomplish still stands.

The boy says he only wants to work with small things for fear of his sanity and safety.  I have decided to spend my remaining days on the island teaching this boy to focus and recite the dream of these letters reaching you.  Thomas, I beg of you, abandon the war and all its functions if it hasn't taken your life, come across Warren's Ocean and find us.  Save us from this cursed fog.

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