Just One More Lifetime

‘I do know. I was young once too.’ Penna had actually been young more than once. Quite a few times actually. But these were simple folk with a simple outlook on life who tended to set fire to things – or people – they did not understand.

Penna had found that out a few of those times in the past when she’d been young – although, at the time as it turned out, not for long. These days she was much more careful, cautious about what she told people about her powers, her abilities. ‘I’m sure we’ll find them.’

Penna could see the trails, the tracks left by Steg and Gren, the young couple who’d run off from the village. They’d found that they were getting married this harvest time, only not to each other. So they’d run away. They’d left faint trails, pale blue, which hung in the morning air like mist – almost like contrails, Penna thought, but that was from a different lifetime, a different world. Even there, a world that prided itself on knowing things, on understanding, had not understood about Penna and those like her with powers beyond the ordinary. But they had been far too civilised to merely set fire to her.

They had tried to cure her.

The result had been the same though. Emerging out into another new life in another new world, not knowing who or where she was.

‘They went that way.’ She pointed.

The villagers did not rush off, following her direction. They stood, looking at each other, shuffling their feet nervously.

One shook his head. ‘No.’

‘But I’m telling you they did.’ Penna tried to keep her calm. After all, she had dealt with many situations like this over many lifetimes, and this time she was not young and naïve. She’d learnt patience, or at least some of it. She looked in the direction she was pointing. ‘Why not? Why wouldn’t they go that way?’

‘The forest.’

‘So? It is a forest. If you are going to run away from home, from your village, then it is a good way to go, I would’ve thought.’

The villager shook his head as the others behind him stared in shock.

‘You are not from around here, are you?’ The villager looked into Penna’s eyes.

‘No, not as such.’ Penna didn’t know where she was from, not originally. She knew little of who she was or where she was supposed to be from in this world, this dimension, this life, either. As usual, after dying somewhere else as someone else, she’d woken up naked and alone in a strange new world. Luckily, she awoke this time deep in the forest, not in some busy city thoroughfare like a few previous times.

‘What is wrong with going that way, into the forest?’ After all, that was where she had come from. A forest much like many other forests she’d seen over her lifetimes. A few more prickly brambles than she’d consider ideal, but manageable.

‘People who go in there, they never come out.’ The villagers gathered closer behind their spokesman, eyeing each other nervously. ‘They are never seen again.’

‘Why, are there monsters in there?’ Penna was thinking about her lucky escape, naked and weaponless.

‘No. It’s worse. Much worse than that.’

‘Oh?’

The villager shook his head sadly. ‘It’s on the other side of the forest. Something far worse than any monster.’

‘What is it?’

‘A city,’ he said and spat in disgust. The villagers behind him shook their heads sadly before trudging back to their lives.

 

Published by David Hadley

A Bloke. Occasionally points at ducks.

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