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Short Story- Aug/Sept 2020

The pathway of remorse

The pathway of remorse

“We have never seen any-thing like this. Dreadful 50 cm tall creatures are crawling from the underworld, some believe. Others say they have been breeding beneath us through the ages and have finally come to infest the world that belongs to them. It is unthinkable, however, that these creatures have the capability to survive underground as they are mutated ravens. But the devastating reality is that these menacing ravens have come to kill and more than a million have already died at the claws of the beasts.”

“Mother, can you please turn down the TV volume. I can’t focus on my games,” rolls from my tongue as I stare in frustration at the enemy I have to kill. I refuse to believe the gibberish the governments force-feed us. It could be anything killing those people. Murderers, rapists, thieves and possibly the government. They are either too lazy to find the true source of these million deaths or hiding an appalling crime. But sinister ravens crawling from beneath us to feast on the fragile souls of humans is nonsense. I choose to rather enjoy my life and play games. “Mother, I’m not going to ask again,” I say as she unhurriedly lowers the volume.

“I’m going to Aunt Ellen,” she responds. “Please, be safe. I will lock the house. And always keep a knife...” “Yes, mother. Always keep a knife close and watch your step. I know, I know.”

A sigh escapes as she opens the front door. “You need to visit your father soon. He is getting old.” “Yes, Mum. I know. But I do not have time now. Bye.”

Finally, I can play my games. Adrenaline rushes through me as I must beat the final boss. That is easy enough...easy enough if the world would leave me in peace. Suddenly the old television decides to shatter my eardrums. As I approach the screeching device and swiftly press the sticky, red ‘shut down’ button, the house’s lights suddenly burst into atoms and all is dark. “I don’t have time for this,” I sigh loudly.

“Yes, you don’t have time.”

The menacing aura’s words float on the thin air surrounding me. The floor beneath me cracks open like a watermelon crushing beneath the pressure of a steel hammer, causing the tiles to deform whilst Earth spits out the unbelievable. Sinister sounds explode as a creature’s toughened claws clasp around the coffee table. The snapping of a beast’s beak is revealed and, finally, I see the truth. The horrifying, soul-frightening truth. The news did not lie. Here is the raven, killer of a million people, crawling from the ground beneath me.

Fear stings up and down my skin, immobilizing me. It twists around my neck. I’m suffocating. A choked cry bursts from my throat, but quickly fades against the shrieking of the wicked raven. My heart pulses from my chest as quick breaths escape my shrinking lungs. The white raven skull, partially covered in bloody black feathers, approaches me with a ghastly shriek. I want to run, but I cannot. I want to scream, but the red eyes of this devilish creature petrify me. I am disabled.

Every step the raven takes, rattles its bones. As the beast’s beak aims at my eyes, adrenaline pulses through my veins, I leap to one side, banging my hip against the television stand. Pain upon pain travels through my side.

The force of our encounter causes the old television to turn on by itself. “More than 150 000 people die each day. Scientists, however, made a great discovery about the raven. Around its neck hangs a golden necklace with a clock pendant. This is quite strange as...”

The bird grimaces at me in disgust and leaps. The claws dig into my fragile flesh and scarlet blood oozes from my arm. Petrifying pain numbs my body, but I must, I must survive. I grab the television remote, swiftly launching it into the bird’s eye. In vain. The scaly claws clench around my thin body, crushing my lungs.



I gasp for air but cough up blood instead. The bird’s sinister eyes dig into my soul and as blackness engulfs me, I catch the view of a golden clock around the beast’s neck. “Your time is finished,” swirls around my dying body as I feel my lungs collapse and death overcomes me.

White light blinds me.

It cannot be. Heaven is not real, nor is hell. Or so I thought. I used to believe that monsters do not exist. But I was killed by one and now...now, surely, I must be in heaven? I eagerly struggle to my feet to observe the heavenly path carved before me. The road is endless, built with different flooring - all the way from wood and bamboo to glass tiles. Beside the tiles are tall, marble posts, carved out with strange figures. And in between these posts are white, electronic screens.

I proceed to follow this never-ending pathway and then hear a clock ticking. Menacing words ring in my ears: “You have wasted your time.” Bewildered, I walk forward. Beside me I carefully study the blank screen. My heart leaps from my chest as an electronic screen suddenly flashes a blinding bright light. In shock, I stumble backward. With a pounding head, my ears ring and my breathing is shallow. Chaotic noises fill this infinite pathway and the screens all come to life. My life! The screens – each one of them – portray scenes from my life. Without hesitation I jog down the path.

It is my timeline!

A timeline of hell! The lights go dim. “Tick tock, tick tock.” My memories are shown to me, but none are good. The further and faster I run, the more the truth dawns on me:

I am on a pathway and each different floor represents a phase in my life. The path, however, is endless, a perpetual cycle repeating itself. And the memories pulsate with pain. They strangle my heart for infinity with regret for the things I never did. The people I wanted to help, but never did – because I lived a lie, believing I was too busy and that I did not have time.

The raven of time still roams in the world and it feasts on 150 000 each day. And where do they go? Well, where most go. The real hell - the place where we truly do not have time. The place which is an infinite, cursed path, paved every inch with remorse.

Sareez Basson

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