I take a breath and run away from Grave, from all that I’ve ever known. As I reach the spot where a boat is supposed to be, I see it, my chance to escape. With a giant leap of courage, I jump onto the boat which is supposed to take me to my destination, my freedom, Ixion.
My mind is racing at a thousand miles per minute. I think of my little sister, Retra, I feel bad for leaving her, but I have to, I can’t take it anymore. I look up to find a man standing in front of me, a Riper! His skin is white as snow from Grave, his hair, blacker than the night sky as it falls past his shoulders. His eyes study me; it feels like he is looking into my soul. “Welcome aboard to Ixion: Island of ever night, ever youth and never sleep! Burn Bright!” he says smiling and walks away.
I stand up and walk towards a door. I see light and hear laughter as I near it. When I reach the door, there are stairs. I walk up them and end up in a room that seems very warm and bright. I see many other people my age, looking for freedom. I see a girl next me, eyes filled with fright. “Hi, my name is Joel,” I say to her, hoping to bring comfort. She looks at me. “H-hi...my name is…Rin,” she replies, barely audible.
I smile at her and she looks away. I walk deeper into the room and see food. FOOD! Slowly, I walk towards the table filled with food I can’t even name them. Grave never had these types of food; all the food was bad, bland and disgusting. I take some type of pastry and a piece of cake, walking away to the edge of the room.
I take a bite of the cake and see a girl across the room; she has long blonde hair and bright blue eyes. Confident, I walk over to her. “Hi, my name is Joel,” I say proudly. She smiles and examines me. “Well, Joel, you have brown hair and brown eyes; you have a strong build and you are very handsome; if you are looking for a partner in crime, I’m happy to oblige,” she replies.
I smile and reply, “Well, that would be nice if I knew your name?”
“Oh, my name is Perrie,” she replies smiling.
We start chatting and getting to know each other better, apparently she is from Grave as well, but from a different part. I was in the middle of asking her if she had any brothers or sisters, when I was interrupted by loud drumming by another Riper. More Ripers descended from stairs. ”Sit down, we are passing the Spiral no. You will be safe from hyper-reaction as long as you are seated,” one says. I lean down and sit as Perrie does the same.
“Once through the Spiral, you’ll leave the barge and pass into the register. There you’ll be fitted with your badge. After that your life – your pleasure – is your own. BURN BRIGHT!” he says as if he has repeated it many times before. “BURN BRIGHT!” the crowd repeats.
A slight hum starts, and then the lights go out. Then rocking comes, gently at first, but then violently, making me slide across the floor. The air gets heavy and thick and the light we see from the rising sun, through the window, goes black.
It got harder to breathe and I felt a heavy weight dropping on me. There are screams, meaning I wasn’t the only one to feel it. It gets harder to think and I start to hear music, not like any other I have heard. I try to drown out the music by covering my ears, but it doesn’t help. Then it stops, the air clears, the music stops, my mind became clearer and the heaviness lifts. “Welcome to Ixion,” one of the Ripers say, clearly amused by our reactions.
Ixion is dark, very dark. I see lights along mountainsides; it looks like lights from clubs or paths. I got separated from Perrie when we left the barge and now I’m walking by myself, looking around, curious. So I don’t notice where I am going, and then I bump into a girl. Her hair is brown, falling just past her shoulders; her eyes, brown just like her hair. She is very tall, almost taller than me and yet she looks much younger than me.
“Oh, I’m very sorry, I wasn’t looking where I was going,” I start.
“Oh no, it is my fault, I’m very scared, but I should not have stop suddenly,” she says.
“I’m Joel, from Grave,” I introduce myself, smiling.
She giggles and replies, “I’m Charlonge”
“Well, Charlonge, would you care to walk with me as we are both by ourselves,” I ask, being polite.
She giggles again and replies, “Sure.”
We start walking down the long path, together, talking. We reach the register and go in together. After the register we followed the crowd into a kar, which is a form of transport here in Ixion.
The first stop is a platform, where stairs disappear into darkness. “Critical Zone, babies. I dare you,” I hear a female voice say from behind me. A girl from beside me steps forward and onto the platform.
“She’s so stupid, she won’t be able to go anywhere else and cannot go to any churches to rest,” I hear someone behind me say. The lady steps off the kar and onto the platform as the kar moves to its next destination.
I turn to Charlonge, “The lights are very beautiful,” I say, trying to make conversation.
“Yeah, they remind me of the neighbour’s house during New Year,” she replies. I smile and look out to watch the lights.
The rest of the ride is spent chatting about what Ixion might be like, our fears and our family. I didn’t tell her about Retra, she might think I am a mean brother, who never loved her, but this is not the case, I love Retra, it killed me to leave, but what’s done is done.
The kar stopped at another platform. It was very crowded and everyone tried to get off at once. The force of the crowd was so great I was pushed out, without Charlonge. The crowd continues down a long staircase, until they reach an area that is lit by fire jets that are shooting into the sky. It reveals a single stage in the middle of the area.
He spots Charlonge from a distance and makes his way towards her. “Hey, sorry about leaving you,” he says when he reaches her.
“Oh, hey, that’s ok,” she replies.
They look to the stage and Joel sees six figures standing there.
“Silence,” one of them says. The crowd quietens down, listening to them.
“I am Lenoir, leader of the Guardians. This may be the only time we will meet, so listen
well. What you fail to hear becomes your lot to bear.” He paused, letting it sink in. “I – we…” he motions to the others, standing next to him, “own you now. This is our place.”
The crowd remains silent, fearful. “Fear not. All we want…is for you to find pleasure,” he said. In
Ixion music and party are our only beliefs. Darkness is our comfort. We have few rules but they are
absolute. Your endocrine systems have been altered by changes to your hypothalamus. You no
longer need to sleep or see sunlight.”
For some reason, everyone cheered, but the sound scared me. “Still, you will need to rest for a short period every twelve-cycles; how long will vary for each of you. When that time is upon you, the badge you have administered at the Register will glow,” he said. For the first time I looked at my hand and saw black marking printed on it.
I looked back up as he continued. “We call this petite nuit – little night. You body needs this rest and yet your mind will remain conscious. That is the time for you to be in your beds, little ones. If you ignore this, it is at your own risk,” he finished and people cheered.
A woman stepped forward and began talking. “My name is Test, baby bats. Listen well…” this continued, each person standing up in front introducing themselves and saying a little bit about Ixion. I remember Lenoir talking about how there are six churches, five in which we use: Vank, Illi, Agios, Goa and Los Fien, and one which was out of bounds: Danskoi.
Test finally spoke again, “Now only the cleansing ceremony remains before you can begin again. Drink Lava from the dispensing stations then remove your clothes and bring them to the pyres,” She said this while motioning towards a place which I could not see through the crowds.
Everyone started doing this and was leaving. This was it, this was the start of my new life, a new beginning.