After the Battle

Image Credit: Delia R., Phoenix, AZ The author's comments: I wrote this when I first read the Hobbit and watched the movie.   Kili quaked with shock and pressed his hands harder against Fili’s wound. The blood gushed over his hands and his brother’s eyes stared up at him, saliva trickled out of his mouth. Kili felt sobs roar up inside him, unstoppable, inevitable, just like death. “Uh…nuh…no,” A child’s half formed words poured out of his mouth, “No, no, no, FILI! Fili you have to listen, I can’t…I can’t let you…PLEASE! PLEASE DON’T…!” He was going into hysterics, tears bathed his face, and his breath came fast and rough. He felt a hand on his shoulder. “Kili, we have to go, come on.” He looked up into the face of Thorin, bloody and wild, and whose eyes were still full of battle and pain. “Uncle? I thought, I thought you were…-“ “Shh…Gandalf helped me.” Kili stumbled to him and they hugged tightly. Thorin’s face was streaked with tears too and he was warm and real and very alive, not like Fili. Kili became overcome with mourning then, and he huddled himself in Thorin’s grasp and blood soaked shirt. “He’s dead Uncle, Fili’s dead…” was all that came out of Kili’s sobbing as the sky slowly darkened and the moon rose up to greet the stars, just as it always had, even now that his blood brother was dead. Finally it was morning.   Kili woke with stiff limbs and tears raw on his cheeks. Dry blood stuck to his hair and mud clung to his clothes like bad dreams. He was still in Thorin’s arms, head resting on the crook of his elbow, and he could feel his breathing. Kili didn’t want to get up; he didn’t want to even move. He did not want to believe Fili, his brother, was dead. Fresh tears fell down his face, and his chest hurt with silent sobs. He wanted quiet, peace, to be alone. It was then that Kili felt the blacke mar, the pulling, deep inside him, tugging hard at his being with each heartbeat. It was a safe valve for emotion, the reason to faint, when your body became overwhelmed. But it was dangerous. If a dwarf gave into this urge too many times, or for too long, it was a gap for evil.  Things that were unconformable, sexual arousal, or wrong, hurting someone you loved, even hurting yourself, began to become urges mixed in with the blacke mar. It became an addition. Kili gave into the blissed darkness for the second time in his life.            The sun was high in the ocean of sky when Thorin found him and helped him up and they started off up the moor. They walked as the clouds covered the blinding sun and it began to rain. The drops dripped off Kili’s nose mixed with the tears he had been crying, but he didn’t put up his hood. Sadness came welling up in his mouth, tasting like metal and blood. Kili swallowed; he was not going to cry in front of Thorin again. “Look,” Thorin pointed ahead to a small town ahead of them. The sun came out weakly from behind some rain clouds. Kili kept walking.   The village was empty. Charred, blackened with dragon fire, but empty. There was no food, but five ponies that looked wild. Thorin helped Kili up on to one and they set off, in silence. The rain grew heavier and still they rode. Kili’s head was pounding but the tears on his cheeks were dry. His tangled hair hung wet around his face. He felt numb, tired, sick, and useless. He wanted to give up on life, Thorin, and the mission… but not Fili, never Fili. Kili supposed that was why he kept going, because of Fili. The blacke mar grew stronger each passing hour, Kili struggling against the black and the wretchedness he was feeling.   They passed no towns now, just trees. Thorin killed two rabbits and they ate them with the rest of their bread and cheese. They would have gotten more, Kili knew if Thorin had let him hunt, but Thorin had said that he looked sick. This statement had been proved when Kili had tried to get off his pony, and collapsed. Thorin didn’t know that the blacke mar had been at play, sweeping Kili away from his mourning and pain, at least not yet. Kili didn’t eat that night or the next. When Thorin asked, he just said that he wasn’t hungry and that was usually the end of it. Three days later, Thorin cornered him. “Why won’t you eat?” “I’m not hungry-“ “You haven’t eaten for five days Kili. Eat, NOW.” Kili swallowed. “No.” Thorin tackled him and pinned him to the ground, forcing the bread into his mouth. Kili spat it out and stared at his uncle. “No.” He whispered. Thorin growled and forced more bread into his nephew’s mouth, clamping his hand over it, constraining him to swallow. Kili did swallow a swallow that turned into coughing, and then gagging. Thorin rolled off him and Kili crawled a few feet on the wet ground, and vomited, his body constricting into a tight ball as he did so. Thorin yelled wordlessly at his nephew and threw the bread on the ground. “WHAT are you trying to do Kili, starve yourself?” Thorin shouted up at the trees and birds, as if they could give him the answers, “Don’t you dare give up. I won’t let you -not you and Fili both!” Thorin bit his fist in frustration. “Oh Durin…” He slowly turned and kneeled beside Kili, took him in his arms and calmed him. He knew what he had to do.   Kili felt something tugging at him, inviting him deeper into the darkness that encased him like a warm cocoon. Suddenly he heard the words… “Woll bek nisala mi tok anf qem kol eoll.” He felt a hand, softly pressing his navel, his stomach, chest, throat, mouth, and forehead. His ears were buzzing, he felt sick. The hand pressed the top of his head. Kili screamed. Thorin lifted his hand from the boy’s head, watching as Kili’s face grew pale and his scream fade. Fever was raging in his nephew’s body, Thorin knew, but they had to keep moving. He put Kili on the back of his pony and led the other behind. Kili whispered in his sleep leaning on Thorin’s back, “Fili…”   Kili woke up, but was at the same time asleep, trapped in the horrifying land of dreams. A monster roared out of the darkness and Kili ducked. The monster raced past him and charged into the darkness once again. It came back with a bloody piece of meat in its mouth and it took a few seconds for Kili to realize it was his brother. Fili, eyes opened wide and filled with black, lips parted, blood bathing him, told Kili that he hated him. He told him that once when Kili had been sleeping, he had raped him he hated him so much. “YOU killed me!” his brother screamed, “I hate you because you killed me!” Tiny animals bit Kili, drawing blood. Kili yelled and tried to shake them off, but to no avail. Crimson, warm something tore its way up his body, grinding and ripping off his clothes, until he was naked and vulnerable. The pain was so great that Kili couldn’t hold back his shrieks and black tears spilled down his front. Kili fled down into the black, but they followed him until he hit the bottom, and huddled there waiting for it to end.   The moon and sun rose and set. Time passed…   When Kili woke up he felt like someone was sitting on his chest. He was burning, fire under his skin and his knee cracked and broke. “Ge- get off me.” Kili tried to sit up but the fire grew stronger and the person sitting on him was too heavy. It grew harder and harder to breath, sweat poured from his skin. Kili whimpered and shuddered as he heard words that dribbled from a familiar voice, “Brother…” it said comfortingly, “Fili…” Kili hardly had the strength to speak. “Yah Kili, but it isn’t your time yet.” “But-but I wanna be with you Fi-” He felt a hand touch his forehead. “You must go back to the world of the living. I love you brother.” The hand lifted and a kiss replaced it. Kili heard Fili’s laugh, felt his arms around him for a long moment… and then came to himself.   Thorin was asleep when Kili woke up. The sky was dark, the night was cool and the fire had long since died down.  Kili sat up. His knee was bandaged and his legs were naked under Thorin’s coat which served as a blanket. He was shivering.   There was a bowl of soap next to him and a chunk of bread. They had moved while he was asleep to, and were now in the middle of, not a forest, but a field. Thorin was asleep a few feet away, muttering in his dreams. The air in the field was warm as a wind swiped the tall grass around him; whipping his hair into his face and making Kili feel very small. He didn’t like the feeling, and after checking that his bow was beside him along with his knapsack, he began to eat the soup. I can’t sit up, and I’m not dressed, but I can still shot straight. The warm wind howled around him for a moment, then stilled.  Kili didn’t know how long he had been asleep, if that was the right word, or where they were. He felt so alone, and the homesickness came back forcefully. He thought of Dis, and Fili, and their little house in the woods and began to miss it very strongly. He wished he was home, in his own bed, with the fire going and his mother at the stove and Thorin squatting by the hearth warming his hands, and his brother’s warmth at his back. Just as he thought this the moon came out, and Kili saw that it was low in the sky, it would be morning soon. He began to weep quietly for he knew that he would never lie next to, talk to, laugh with, hug, or be loved by his older brother again. You can’t wish back the dead he thought.   And he forgave.  



AUTUMN LALA: Bloody Blanchett

Something wasn’t right. Detective Tift examined his suspect. Newlywed Scott Blanchett scratched the dried blood flaking his wrists, sobbing all the while. This case was clear-cut. They had enough evidence. “Why don’t you just admit it?” Tift asked. A pause. A sniffle. “I can’t admit to what I can’t remember.” Autumn Lala lives in Ohio, … Continue reading AUTUMN LALA: Bloody Blanchett →

JONAH ARDIEL: Tattoo

18: The pelican on my shoulder reminds me to slow things down, live calmly. 25: The snake slithering up my arm symbolizes willful and unapologetic action. 33: The rose on my wrist shows me that beauty can stem from new beginnings. “Dad, what do your tattoos mean?” “Nothing,” I say. Jonah Ardiel lives and writes … Continue reading JONAH ARDIEL: Tattoo →

AMELIA JINDI: Ravenous

I ate it. All of it. It was terrible. My taste receptors burned with acid and salt. Still, my digestive system accepted it, converting the mass consumed into precious needed energy. My next meal was twice as big, mostly blue and green, much more delicious-looking. Third rock from the sun. AJ Joseph gardens while waiting … Continue reading AMELIA JINDI: Ravenous →

PATRICK MC LOUGHLIN: Cowboy Builders

The architects studied the plans for the umpteenth time. There was something missing, but what was it? Gabriel turned the drawings upside down and then Michael turned them sideways. “This won’t work. It will fall apart,” they both agreed. “Just get on with it,” sighed God. “It’s not that important.” Patrick Mc Loughlin is an … Continue reading PATRICK MC LOUGHLIN: Cowboy Builders →

MAURA YZMORE: Ephemera

I float beneath the ceiling. On the red carpet, my body glows: satin, silk, jewelry worth ten times my parents’ house. My body hugs cast members, producers. Gets felt up. I miss home. The afterparty. I ride a thick line of cocaine back into my body. Feeling whole… doesn’t last. Maura Yzmore is a Midwest-based … Continue reading MAURA YZMORE: Ephemera →