Tossico lay atop the sagging mattress on the creaky bed. He’d found an old knife, dull but not blunt, in the rickety old desk at the far side of the room in Pemberontak’s royal palace. He turned the blade’s tip against his forefinger and stared at the cracked ceiling, the floor below him strewn with the gifts the city’s people lavished upon him since his arrival a week ago.
None of it meant anything to Tossico. Nothing at all.
Three weeks they’d traversed the Mandulupain. Each trot forward, every turn of the wheel excavating him to the point that a hollow and fragile Tossico differed little from the dead insect husks in the chest of drawers and the cobwebs in the old armoire.
Only on occasion did he leave the room for the city and the more he spent in its streets and amongst its people, the more he felt he moved through a dream. He dreamed dreams that felt more real, where things seemed more substantial than this, this fleeting feeling of being amongst people who were not really there, not really real.
Four weeks since this feeling of nothing seized him, took him within its cold embrace, Tossico had checked out from the world that had left its indelible mark upon him and rendered him directionless. Until that is, he lay there upon that bed, his face sagging like the robes and trousers and tunics across the floor, Tossico, mumbling one word answers to questions he didn’t even hear himself ask, felt something warm and sticky on his finger.
He put his finger to his mouth and sucked off the blood and, finding himself wanting more, closed his eyes and smiled as the bright warmth filled him with something no word could describe, something which seemed to sink into those fissures and fill the shallowest hollows of which the world had made his life.
He looked to the bone above his wrist, the one where the particularly bulbous vein bulged. He put the blade to it and watched the blood bu-bump, bu-bump, bu-bump against the rusty steel. He closed his eyes. Bu-bump, bu-bump, bu-bump. Hard and fast he ripped the blade down and didn’t feel a thing. Cursed knife was too dull. But his wrist was warm and he looked and he touched and he brought the gushing gash to his mouth where, sucking in tandem with the wound, everything changed in one jessant exhumation of delirious rapture.
What took time in the fire’s embers took less than an instant with blood, for in that gushing pomegranate waterfall, his hollows filled and overflowed with love. Thousands of miles were nothing to him; his wrist to his mouth, the blood trickling down his chin, he embraced, held, kissed, and united with his Tesora.
The blood slowing to a trickle, Tossico lowered his wrist and looked at the little cut.
“Shhhh,” it whispered. “Shhhhh.”
Tossico tore a small piece of paper from the desk, stuck it to the wound, and pulled his sleeve down. Taking a quick peek to apologize, his chin dropped to his chest; he punched the wall and screamed. He yanked up his sleeve and ripped the paper off. Specks of dried blood he scraped with his fingernail. He smiled, looking at the wound, still reveling in that earnest tingle lingering about his armpits, his scalp, his neck, earlobes, and the small of his back.
Tossico hated his father as much as his father hated his own. If lazy meant allowing trees to grow, then he would be laziest of them all. He flopped to his side. At the same time, he loved his father and he did want to be like him. He was his father after all and thanks to him, Tossico’s future kingdom would be safe. He tugged at his hair, flopped from one side to the next and flipped his pillow, so he
might temper his flush cheeks with the cool side, at least a dozen times. His stomach knotted, his toes curled; he threw his covers off the bed and ran to the corner of his room, still naked, naked and shaking, shaking and shuddering from a high-strung heat, burning, burning, burning him away and though he wanted to cry, a life like his so long bereft of moisture had long ago evaporated his last
And then he felt nothing, nothing save the vague, uneven sensation of floating, of not really being there, though still aware of his dim self far below.
What happened next was left blank and dark.
He came to with a red arm, the knife next to him on the bed. He hadn’t even felt the cut.
He brought her sultry lips to his and in kissing her, returned to wet green life in a space of time narrower, sharper than the blade itself.