Death of the Body (Crossing Death)

BOOK: Death of the Body (Crossing Death)
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Rick Chiantaretto



Text Copyright ©2013 by Rick Chiantaretto

Crossing Death, Death of the Body, characters, names, and related property (physical and intellectual) are trademarks and © Rick Chiantaretto

Crossing Death publishing rights © Rick Chiantaretto

Death of the Body publishing rights © Rick Chiantaretto


All Rights Reserved.



License Notes

No part of this publication may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without written permission of the publisher. For more information regarding permission, write to:


Rick Chiantaretto

[email protected]






Published by Orenda Press


Copyediting by Bev Sninchak and Kathryn Star Heart

Formatted by Willow’s Formatting

Cover Design by Eden Crane Design

Production Management by Orenda Press


ISBN 978-1-940748-02-3

Printed in the USA

This Edition, December 2013







What if all religions were stories,

and all stories were true?


Table of Contents























Twenty one

Twenty two






For Mike, who knows what goes on in my head

and sleeps next to me in the dark anyway.






I watched in disbelief as blood seeped through my fingers and dripped, thick as syrup, to the ground. I heard each drop thud against the ground beneath me. The echo in my ears beat louder than any drum. For the first time in my ten years of life, I cursed the connection I had with the planet. I cursed it for its betrayal. I cursed it because, with every drop of blood that spilled, the planet felt my pain and mimicked my screams with its own bleating sound that bounced around inside my already spinning head.

My legs were weak and my knees buckled but I didn’t dare let my hands loosen from around the wound in my stomach. I caught the weight of my fall with my face. I rolled onto my side in order to breathe. Pain surged as the ragged edges of my wound rubbed together. I felt every last severed nerve. They were all on fire.

Blood poured quickly. Worse than seeing it, I could feel it, hot and sticky in a pool beneath me. My stomach retched but it would hurt to throw up so I tried to force down the feeling. Bile came up anyway. I turned my head and choked it out. The rusty taste left in my mouth was so sour it made my eyes water. I cried uncontrollably, feeling ashamed of myself.

I wished for the comfort of my mother and father. I longed for the company of my two best friends. It was ironic that I’d just had a conversation about death with them a day ago.

As I lay sobbing on the ground, the thought that I was going to die became more and more real. Already my blood was soaking back into the earth that I loved so much. I thought of the lessons that taught me not to fear death. I had been taught that death was a return to the larger conscious mind that is nature. This awareness made my people who they were and gave us our unique gifts.

I was afraid anyway. The thought of dying was much more terrifying now than when it was taught to me by the Elders.

The Elders. The Elders who were either dead or enslaved. The Elder who betrayed us all and who did this to me.

Rage: pure, blazing, and blinding in its fury. I was too enraged to even notice that I could feel anything besides pain. Rage boiled inside me as blood boiled from my stomach and I realized it was based in two other emotions: hate and disbelief.

Then something cold and wet hit me between the eyes. I rolled onto my back and stared into the dark and threatening clouds. Another something hit the back of my hand, and I lifted it (was my arm always this heavy?). A drop of rain mingled with my blood.

I had never experienced rain before. It never rained here—at least not in my lifetime. Rain was for when the world was angry, when its powers had been abused and the balance of life had been disrupted.

But wasn’t I angry? And wasn’t I connected to the planet? Didn’t I understand its moods and feelings? Why wouldn’t it then understand
? In my delirium this seemed to make sense, and the large flash of lightning that then split the sky seemed to confirm my thoughts. The flash was blinding, and I didn’t have enough energy to be startled by the fact that my vision remained nothing but the same bright white light.

I shivered as cold crept into me; it didn’t help that I was lying in a chilling pool of blood. The rain picked up. I was nearly soaked through, but was too weak and numb to move. At least the pain was starting to slip away. I could only imagine how blue my fingertips must have looked. They felt like ice.

After the pain was gone, the fear began to fade. All the tension in my body went with it. Cold as I was, I started to feel strangely comfortable. I could feel the earth beneath me, supporting me, soft and gentle. My mom used to hold me like this.

When I realized the rage was slipping, I cried out. I wanted to keep it alive within me. I wanted to be angry and upset. I wanted to be angry because feeling an emotion—any emotion—was better than accepting death.

As the rage faded further, I thought I heard distant laughter. How could anyone be happy now? How could they laugh as I lay here, a mangled mess? It took me a minute to remember that just because the earth could feel my pain didn’t mean everyone else could too—especially not the outsiders.

Their voices were getting louder and nearer. When they suddenly stopped, I heard a gasp. Mustering the last of my strength, I reached toward the voices.

“Please,” I tried to say, but it came out as barely more than a groan.

“Get a doctor!” a woman’s voice commanded. I felt slight vibrations through the earth as somebody ran away. The woman who spoke came over and kneeled next to me. I wasn’t too far gone to feel surprise. I imagined I was a frightening sight. I expected her to keep her distance, so my eyes widened when she took my hand in hers. She was warm, but trembling.

“What did this to you, child?” Her voice shook but was full of compassion and concern.

“Magic.” I couldn’t tell if I actually said the word or just thought it.

As I repeated the word over and over in my mind, the rage dissipated and the light began to dim. A part of me was upset that I’d let the rage go but I was too exhausted to call it back. I welcomed the darkness now. The woman at my side was saying something but her words made no sense to me. Far easier to hear was the heartbeat of the earth. I wanted to soothe the earth’s tremors caused by the pain and fear it felt for me, but I couldn’t. As my breathing slowed, memories of the past day flashed into my mind. They were of the events that led up to my death, when all this started. It seemed like a lifetime ago. Who would have known it would only be one long day that would lead me here, lying on the ground, spilling blood?




The bright
sun was centered in the sky and was hot enough that I unbuttoned my shirt. I was lying on my back, face tilted toward the sun, hands and fingers weaving a comfortable pillow under my head. The small, coverless wagon only needed to be pulled by one horse and swayed back and forth beneath me in time with the regular beat of the horse’s stride. A long blade of grass was between my lips. I chewed on the end of it occasionally because I hadn’t eaten anything in almost twenty-four hours and the chewing motion slaked my hunger.

“Hey Edmund, aren’t you supposed to be

I must’ve been close to sleep, because the sound of my name made me jump. I forced myself upright, watching a figure bound toward the wagon with a handful of alfalfa.

I wasn’t alone in the wagon; the other person was my best friend Hailey and she was kind enough to answer for me.

“The horse knows where it’s going, Ralph.” I loved it when she used that get-over-yourself tone and rolled her eyes—except when she did it to me. Naturally, a large grin crossed my face.

Ralph, Hailey, and I had been best friends from the time we could walk. Even though all the children in our town grow up together until the age of twelve—and there were plenty of other kids our age—we had gravitated toward each other early on. Most of the adults in town treated us like siblings instead of just friends. Now that we were ten, we were each responsible for gathering food. Instead of each of us going alone, we decided it would be more fun to go together. I was responsible for blackberries, which, inconveniently, grew only in a vast forest a day’s travel away from town. Ralph, of course, gathered alfalfa, which was in abundance in the stretching fields that grew for miles on the horizon. Hailey was responsible for mushrooms that were found anywhere, but grew large and earthy on the dark, damp ground sheltered by the forest.

We became accustomed to taking one day at the beginning of the moon cycle to travel to the forest, gather berries, and stuff ourselves with mushrooms. We always fell fast asleep against a wayward pine before making the journey back the following morning. On this trip the mushroom harvest had been scarce and there were hardly enough blackberries to fill the required quota for the town.

Ralph sprang over the side of the wagon and landed loudly enough that I knew he purposely tried to startle us. Hailey shrieked as the unexpected weight caused the wagon to sway, but I remained impassive to his attempt to scare us.

“Wow, Edmund. What are you daydreaming about?” his voice sounded playful. He playfully snapped his fingers in front of my face to get my attention. They buzzed with electric magic.

My gaze met his. His ragged auburn hair fell unkempt over his golden eyes. He looked at me with an odd expression of anticipation.

“What are you thinking about?” he asked.

Blackberry pie—but I wasn’t about to tell him that. “Something on the horizon caught my attention,” I lied.

BOOK: Death of the Body (Crossing Death)
8.64Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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