This is an extended version of a 400 word flash fiction piece I wrote of the same name. It’s meant to be vague with themes of death and rebirth being the central focus. I’ve always been interested in the concept of people living past lives they are unable to remember. Yet they still have memories or intuitions passed down from experiences they are unable to consciously recollect. With this short story I focused on the death of an ancient samurai, and how his spirit has carried over to that of a new-born fighting for life in a very different sort of way. I hope you enjoy it.
The autumn breeze lifts and drops the tattered cloth on his body. His flowing hair lightly sways in the wind. A bead of sweat builds upon his brow, only to break away and fall upon the dampened earth. His once mighty sword now broken in two, drops from his hand and claims rest at his feet. With his strength now greatly diminished, he finds he no longer has the willpower to stand.
Dropping to one knee, he manages to keep his gaze fixed straight ahead. The furious burning of the sun high above, blocks out the features of the figure standing before him. The shadow does not need to speak as his intent is already understood. Arms raised overhead, a streak bright as lightning reflects from sharpened steel.
With the sudden rush of wind whistling by, he feels the warmth of his body begin to leave. Time begins to pass by as he lie motionless: back pressed against the cool grass while the cacophony of battle dies down, and the world falls silent.
His breathing shortens as the warm sun dips behind the emerald hill tops. His body starts to go numb, and he can no longer feel the tickle of the cool evening wind. Images of the past fill his mind as he prepares for the end.
No, he is not scared. He looks towards the heavens as the fading sky gives way to the twilight of night. He knows he no longer needs to fight: a lifetime of struggle and anguish, the violence and the pain, it all melts away. At last his endless war has come to pass, for serenity finally washes over him now. The final grain of sand drops, and his soul is free to leave this mortal plane.
A true warrior does not worry about death. As the way of the samurai and his ancestors before him, he does not fear the end. He only makes his peace and embraces eternity. His life leaves him but his spirit continues on. Rising high above the battlefield as death takes hold of the many. The spirit cares not of the doings of this world. Its only purpose is to renew life once lost.
From a whisper in the night to the howling of the winter’s wind. One may close their eyes for the final time, only to reopen them new again. Memories of past lives will linger on, but the living are unable to recollect.
It happens only when the final moment occurs, as life’s embers cool. Only then will the memories of a thousand lifetimes come flooding back, much like the waves breaking deep at sea. As each memory passes by, it breaks away and recycles into something new. For a man may live a thousand lives, but he only will be known for one.
He once was a proud warrior, a husband, and a father. Now he will be but just a memory. He will be missed, and his actions will never be forgotten. Once he closes his eyes for the final time, the darkness takes over, and the grip of infinity takes hold. But even though life’s flame is extinguished the spirit continues on.
She opens her eyes but the light is so blinding she can barely see. The room is loud and she can’t understand the world around her. Her body naked, she has been forced from her home. She lived in a world so calm, but now she is surrounded by chaos. Everything is new, and she cannot comprehend what is happening. A large man picks her up but she makes no noise. She struggles for breath and it’s getting hard for her to stay awake. She hears voices trailing off as she begins to fade away. A quiet blackness surrounds her, but she feels as if she does not yet belong to it.
Visions of ferocity flash across her eyes. Her adrenaline spikes and her heart beats like that of a battle drum. She does not fear death, but she is not yet ready to embrace it. As if it were the will of past lives lived, she refuses to give in.
Images of a fierce battlefield play in her mind. She is peering through the eyes of a man who perished centuries ago. The fight in him is fierce, and she feels what he feels. He refuses to surrender as she does now; he is stubborn. Even in the face of defeat he will not go down. No matter how bravely he fights though he simply cannot win. He is outmatched and outnumbered yet he does not give up fighting until the very end.
As he lie upon the ground gazing into the twilight, he begins to close his eyes. A quiet blackness surrounds him and he starts to fade away. He has lived a long life and now embraces eternity. He never gave up. He just accepted his place in the universe. Even though his memories may be lost in time, a part of him is passed on; his unwillingness to give up.
So strange how many times the same scene replays itself; like time stuck in a single moment. He has died the same death countless times. Only he never knows it’s coming. But as he lie upon the dampened grass, he now does something different. With his last breath escaping between his lips, he speaks once more, reciting the poetic words of the warrior’s goodbye:
From a whisper in the night to the howling of the autumn’s wind, one may close their eyes for the final time, never to reopen them awake again.
When life’s burning embers can no longer be, memories flicker in the passing day, as a candle heading out to sea, life drifts away.
The day is now done, for a warrior may live a thousand lives, he will only be remembered for one.
An infant fighting for life takes her first breath. She breathes in deep and hard, coming back into the light as she exhales. She is a warrior, just as her ancestors before. She has lived a thousand lifetimes, yet she will only remember this one. She has died upon a battlefield over and over infinitely, but she will never know.
There is only one part of her past life that’s in her now; her instinct to fight. It’s the re-ignition of a centuries old fire once extinguished on a vast battlefield. It’s the fire that now burns so furiously within her that gives her strength.
The warriors spirit is much too strong for her to ignore. She is unable to give up. Her memories are yet to be made. She will live. She will create. Her memories need to be passed down. Her warriors spirit needs to one day pass on to another. She needs to live, to die, and then to live again. It is her destiny. It’s the cycle of the warriors spirit.
A man may die but his spirit will survive. Memories will be passed down as instinct. The blood of warriors flow through us all. We mustn’t be scared to embrace eternity as it is inevitable. We will die, but a part of us will forever live on.