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Antane's Anthology  by Antane

Riddles in the Dark (but not *those* riddles).

He didnít remember who he was anymore, at least not during the grey darkness that one could hardly call day and not during the black night. There would be a flash of memory at the evening meal when he heard the name that must belong to him from the one he called his shadow. He could recall no other name but that. Hearing his name would hold him fast for a moment and then awareness of any other life beside this present one in the dark would fade again.

How long had he been here in this dead land? Why was he here? He knew there was a reason but it was beyond recall. It had something to do with the red glow that he saw in the distance and in his dreams when sleep would come at all. He had been there he thought. It was where he had killed the thief that had tried to be rob him of his Precious. He clutched at his chest, at the treasure underneath, yes, he had killed for it. That he remembered or thought he did.†

In this everlasting night, he felt it hard to tell when he was awake and when he was asleep. It was rare that he felt true rest. Who was he? He had no memory of anything. He had no past and no hope for a future, if there was any such thing. He was only aware of the present. His shadow had tried to describe light, meals that contained more than a few crumbs, drinks that werenít half foul, and much else, but he had not understood. He could not imagine anything outside what he saw and felt at the present moment, which for him was what he had always seen and felt: the darkness and the hunger that ravaged him. If it wasnít for the fire that haunted him and the pity in his eyes of his shadow, he would thought himself blind. He was always thirsty and tired and filthy. He heard noises in the night that frightened him and then a voice that soothed the fears away. He knew he was mad but the eyes of his shadow would not abandon him and he was glad.

What was he here for? Was this his home? It had to be. He had no memory of any other. But he had no bed, no roof, no walls. There was just empty, dark expanse. He was always cold. The shivering never stopped and that was another way he knew he must be mad because at the same time there was an everlasting fire that burned inside. It was not warm but devouring and he stood in the middle of it and would not die.

There was something he was supposed to do. What was it? He clutched again at his beloved treasure still hidden under his rags. His shadow had wanted to take it once and he had nearly killed him too. But he had not. He thought if he could only remember, he could leave. And go where? If this was his home, where else could he go? His shadow had tried to tell him what he was do, but he could not comprehend. Go back to the Fire? Destroy the Precious? He shook his head. No, that was not right. That could not be. Hadnít he killed the thief to prevent that? It was his. Hadnít it come to him on his birthday? Yes, it had. And it was his. It was not right at all that it should be gone. It was his. That was the one thing he remembered, the one burning ember that was left to him.

How long had he been here? Days, weeks, months, years? His whole life? There was nothing that told him. All he knew was his shadow had been there just as long and they would stay until he remembered what he had to do.

There was a sound behind him and he turned to see his shadow. ďHave some dinner, Mr. Frodo.Ē





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