The Cherryman: The Boy from Stormwater

25 March 2020

From the edge of town to its sombre centre
First rays of moonlight through doorways did enter
Second moon for a thousand ages
Priests now blind from sacred pages
A new light from Pip’s tree, born to splendour!

The first child born to a god brought the moon back.
The first child born to a god brought the moon back for a night, and from his first rest the sign returned ready to again be unchallenged for an age.
But I still hold the moon within my mind and throughout my spirit, and it does not light the cavernous range of my emotions.
The priests, who ripped me from my wailing mother’s arms as I came alive underneath the Cherrytree, herald peaceful times.
They ignore the depression of truth behind them, gathering slowly not the eternal summer rains, but the years of excrement from a mortal body whose divine spirit cannot soar.

I am twenty and four now, and I approach the future with trepidation and with angst.
Partly from the forgotten cosmos of my mind, but mostly from the unrelenting optimism below Blackrock Hall, home of the Blessed Son, of the persons that worship underneath the eternal sun, do I shirk hope and look only to return Above.
Besides their leathery skin, straw-like hair and brows creased from lack of relieving shade, the people of Zatlo had evolved to not know anxiety, second thoughts, nor the hammer of negative consequence. As one child dies thoughts are spared only for the excitement of a second son, and shepherds guide their flocks near cliffs and wolves negligently trusting that stock of the same size will be born.

I stand on Sinistra Spire, as high as the mountains guarding Zatlo, cragged peaks never touched by man. Their bases tumble, split, and crack into the valley of the city, the few alpine forests of their foothills streaming into the amber and redbrick streets of Cherry Quarter. Creeks and streams wash these pine needles and petals through Poth and grow ten-fold in size to shroud the furnaces of Westgate in Steam. Fat, exhausted and wallowing, the urban surges as begun by the iced tops of the Zatlo mountains surge and pool beneath and between the ten-storey bridges and the cobbled, driftwood dwellings of Stormwater.
I was whipped this morning by the Herald of Taboo, a message to the god, my parent, that the priests had not received enough tribute this Passing.
Yesterday I was stretched on ropes for the same purpose, and the day beforehand trapped in ice-water in the darkness for an entire Rising, a weekly occurrence, to pain my parent into bringing back the moon.
I am blood crimson and powerful.
No knives at my throat.
I step forwards with Stormwater in my eye.

A Jimmy-ho the lats did shut
And a Jimmy-ho lost his nut!
A Sarah-pimmy got a caught in her tinny
And a Sarah-shimmy out a chimney!
But too-right they a freaked outta sight
And a riggity-ho but the doors did hold
So old Sol caught not a sight of their butts,
What a rut!

Chanted by a woman within a darkened bar, these are the first sounds I hear landing in the crooked town. The crowd of revellers surrounding them shout “What a rut!” back at the leaders at the end of each verse. to my face, as though I am a boy again being reprimanded for singing too loudly at Chapel.
“A lookin’ here. Dark cloak in the middle of Sun’s Highest and a skinnin’ all a powdered like. Someone’s a washed in unknowin’!” says a woman’s voice from behind me. The clobbering of hard leather and iron on driftwood pulls my heart down to the bridge with them. I turn around in time to feel a sand-encrusted hand grasp my throat and to hear a voice that I so wish was not mine squeak, “Anything. Anything! Take it all, I’m not bothersome!”
A mane of curled auburn locks controls the hand, and beneath the same voice sniggers, “Bothersome or not son, Blackrock wants you back. And I want hefty tin in my pouch before Shade’s Up!”
In a blur, my legs and arms are numb and my head lolls backwards. I am thrown limp over a shoulder. Stormwater becomes a pastel ribbon of sky blues, peach, apple, and tan.
I cannot return.
I cannot return to endure the blackness of my mind.
The virtuous depression of Blackrock will rule me no more.
The eight-foot shoulder is a tree branch and my will a hacksaw.
Our rapid pace is gliding but my breath is the frozen wind.
The marauders that surround me and their huntress leader are standing and breathing as I crash onto the planks, but they are this bridge and I am the storm-full waters below.

This water is cold, and I have enacted my first miracle.
Away from Blackrock.
I will learn the truth behind why my mind is the last to harbour the moon, the nature of my mother’s abandonment and how to bring Blackrock to its knees.

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