• Prospect Theater Company

A story by SEVAN

As you step onto the grounds you hear a mysterious voice. It seems to come from within you. But it all seems to surround you. But you know it’s speaking to you. You can just feel it.


I haven’t felt the presence of your kind in a while.


Or at least it has felt like a while. Time has lost its meaning to me. I no longer measure the days by the sun and the moon. I count the silence in between the steps I hear.


But your steps have awoken me – if I ever was asleep to begin with. I don’t recognise your sound so this must be the first time you have walked this land. Though – to be fair – all your steps sound the same to me. Like noise.

It’s the echoes of steps gone by that I try to remember the most. The ghost-sounds of bare feet slapping the earth. Tiny scritches of claw scurrying across the grass. Rhythmic beating of wings fighting against the wind. Hooves. Fire cracking. Leaves dropping. Rain dripping. Songs and prayers.


You can hear them can’t you? Close your eyes. Listen for them. Close them and listen.


Wait. Did you hear that? I’m sure you did. Something so familiar. Someone was crying – or – laughing. I’m not sure I remember the difference anymore. But you do. You don’t live in the echoes. You can hear it. Was it crying or laughter? Can you help me find out? Pick a direction and I’ll take the other. Maybe someone is lost – or needs our help.

CHOICE A: CRYING

CHOICE B: LAUGHTER

CHOICE C: YOU HEAR NOTHING

CHOICE A


You follow the sounds of someone crying and step into a clearing. A little boy is crouched next to a tree. He’s barely clothed but he doesn’t seem lost or out of place. He doesn’t hear or see you. It looks like he’s huddled over something. It sounds like he’s saying something but you’re not sure what language it is.


The light is a little darker and it feels like the temperature has dropped, but you decide to move on – to help the strange voice. You start to wonder if maybe you should have stayed on the path. You start to wonder if maybe you’re losing your mind a little. But you laugh it off. You’re probably just tired. Or maybe you’ve fallen asleep under a tree and this your sub-conscious taking everything happening around you and turning it into a dream.


But the little boy looks so real. And you feel compelled – pushed – to walk towards him. You move slowly at first, clearing your throat. A few steps and you realise your feet aren’t making any sound at all. You stop and rock back and forth to make sure you’re not imagining it. You decide to ignore it and keep walking.


The little boy stops crying. His head perking up and he realises you are behind him. You’re frozen to the spot and wonder if you should turn around and run away. You clear your throat a little and open your mouth.


‘Hello?’


The little boy doesn’t move. Maybe he hasn’t heard you so you try again.


‘Hello. Are you alright?’


He doesn’t turn to look at you but motions with his right hand to join him. You’ve come this far and there’s no running away now that he knows you’re there. So you approach him slowly.


As you come around you see he’s protecting something on the ground. Feathers or – fur. No it’s soft feathers. Down. It’s a baby bird of some kind. Or an owl or an eagle maybe. You think it’s dead until you see it’s beak open and close softly.


The little boy looks at you with eyes on the verge of dropping a waterfall of tears again. He says something to you but you’re not sure what he says. But from the tone it seems like he’s asking you for help. He holds the little bird out and motions for you to take it.


You put out your hands in a gentle cup and he places the bird in your hands. He says something else to you and then runs off. You call for him to stop but he keeps running.


Do you follow him or try to find the Mysterious Voice to help?


Choice 1: Follow

Choice 2: Find


CHOICE B


You follow the sounds of laughter and giggling and step into a clearing. A little girl is sat near a tree. She’s barely clothed but doesn’t seem lost or out of place. She doesn’t hear or see you. She’s looking up into the trees giggling and yelling out something, but you’re not sure what language it is.


The light is a little brighter and it feels like the temperature has gone up a little. It feels so good you decide to move on – to help the Mysterious Voice. You start to wonder if maybe you should have stayed on the path. You start to wonder if maybe you’re losing your mind a little. But you laugh it off. You’re probably just tired. Or maybe you’ve fallen asleep under a tree and this your sub-conscious taking everything happening around you and turning it into a dream.


But the little girl looks so real. And you feel compelled – pushed – to walk towards her. You move slowly at first, clearing your throat. A few steps and you realise your feet aren’t making any sound at all. You stop and rock back and forth to make sure you’re not imagining it. You decide to ignore it and keep walking.


The little girl stops laughing. Her head perks up and she realises you are behind her. You’re frozen to the spot and wonder if you should turn around and run away. You clear your throat a little and open your mouth.


‘Hello?’


The little girl doesn’t move. Maybe she hasn’t heard you so you try again.


‘Hello. Are you alright?’


She doesn’t turn to look at you but motions with her right hand to join her. You’ve come this far and there’s no running away now that he knows you’re there. So you approach her slowly.


As you come around you see she’s protecting something on the ground. Feathers or – fur. No it’s soft feathers. Down. It’s a baby bird of some kind. Or an owl or an eagle maybe. It’s hopping around and nuzzling the little girl – giving little chirps of joy.


The little girl looks at you with a twinkly in her eye. She says something to you but you’re not sure what she says. She points up to the tree and repeats what she said. You look up to the tree and try to find – something – anything. In a flash something blurs out of the tree and flies away. The little girl shouts after it and takes off running leaving the little bird behind. It chirps in confusion and looks to you. It hops to you and sits on your foot.


Do you follow the little girl or take the bird to the Mysterious Voice to help?


Choice 1: Follow

Choice 2: Find


CHOICE C


You’re not sure what you’re meant to be hearing. You didn’t hear any crying. You didn’t hear any laughing. You start to wonder if maybe you should have stayed on the path. You start to wonder if maybe you’re losing your mind a little. But you laugh it off. You’re probably just tired. Or maybe you’ve fallen asleep under a tree and this your sub-conscious taking everything happening around you and turning it into a dream.


But you feel compelled – and keep walking. A few more steps and you realise your feet aren’t making any sound at all. You stop and rock back and forth to make sure you’re not imagining it. You decide to ignore it and keep walking.


And then you hear it. You would have missed it if your feet made any noise. You would have missed it if you hadn’t been actually trying to listen for – something – anything. It sounds like whistling – or hooting maybe. Definitely an animal of some kind and out here that could be anything, really.


You step around a tree and find it on the ground. A small little bundle on the ground. Feathers or – fur. No it’s soft feathers. Down. It’s a baby bird of some kind. Or an owl or an eagle maybe. It’s just sitting there contently doing nothing but making little chirruping noises.


You look up in the tree. Maybe it’s fallen out of a nest. Maybe its parent is up there trying to find it. But there’s nothing up there that you can see.


You look back down and see the little bundle now staring at you. Its head tilted. It chirrups a little question and you swear you heard it talk to you. But you know that animals don’t talk. Do they?


You put out your hands in a gentle cup and kneel down to the ground. You speak softly to the bird who looks at you then at your hand. It hops a little and stops. Chirrups. Then hops over quickly and jumps into your hands, nestling in. Now that you have it what are you supposed to do with it.


Maybe you could keep following the path. You might find more of its kind and leave it with them. It doesn’t seem right to take it home with you.


Or maybe you can try to find the Mysterious Voice to help? They definitely know more about the land than you do.


Choice 1: Follow

Choice 2: Find


CHOICE 1


You try to run after the child while making sure nothing happens to the little downy bundle in your hands. But trying to run and avoid roots while keeping your eyes on the child and the bundle prove to be too much. You eventually lose sight of the child and look around trying to find any sign of which direction you should go in.


You call out but no one replies. You’re not even sure if you expected a response. You take a moment to catch your breath and look down. The little bundle in your hands has made itself at home. You can feel its heart beating. Its body moving up and down as it breathes, its feather tickling your fingers. It looks at you every once in a while and chirrups and you feel oddly connected to this little strange bundle.


You calm yourself and call out to the voice but there’s no answer. How do you even find a voice? It feels like the rows of trees are leading you somewhere. If trees could do such a thing while they’re rooted into the ground.


And then you hear it. Voices. Or maybe whispers? No – just voices in the distance. You walk a little more quickly trying to point your feet in the direction of the voices but out here it sounds like they’re coming from everywhere.


You climb a small knoll and as you clear the top you see a village. You blink your eyes as it doesn’t make sense how that could be there. A small and simple village brimming with life. A cookfire is being tended by a younger and an old woman. A few men sit around sharpening tools and stringing bows. Children are running around. The place is full of life. Full of life in a place that shouldn’t be alive. You stand there at the crest watching them for a while and wishing you could join them. There’s something spiritual about what they’re doing. No, that’s not it. There’s something simple about it. Something that feels right. Something that feels natural. It’s not like a utopia but if you had to define it you would describe what you see now.


You realise that the talking has stopped and everyone has turned to look at you. You crouch a little to try and hide yourself but realise that’s silly as you’re right there in the open and they can clearly see you.


It feels like time has frozen. You don’t feel scared because they don’t seem to be angry or afraid. They’re just watching to see what you do next. To make sure you do the right thing.

The child walks out of the crowd towards you and stands toe-to-toe with you. They look up at you and smile. They cup their hands and lift them to you and you remember you had that bird in your hands the whole time. It’s gone to sleep and is soundly buzzing away in your hands. You gently place the bird in their hands as they nod their head in appreciation.


Your eyes move back to the adults. They’ve all outstretched their right arms and are pointing off in the distance. It doesn’t feel like a dismissal or a banishment. But an urging to continue your journey because you’re not finished. You smile at them, but they don’t move.


You start to walk in the direction they point to.

CHOICE 2


It feels like you’ve been walking for hours but the sun hasn’t moved so it can’t have been that long. The little bundle in your hands has made itself at home. You can feel its heart beating. Its body moving up and down as it breathes, its feathers tickling your fingers. It looks at you every once in a while and chirrups and you feel oddly connected to this little strange bundle. You still can’t tell exactly what it looks like and then you realise that maybe all this is real. You can feel and hear the bird. It’s there. But you try not to think about it and keeping walking.


You call out to the voice but there’s no answer. You call out every several steps and turn your head in different directions. How do you even find a voice? It feels like the rows of trees are leading you somewhere. If trees could do such a thing while they’re rooted into the ground.


And then you hear it. Voices. Or maybe whispers? No – just voices in the distance. You walk a little more quickly trying to point your feet in the direction of the voices but out here it sounds like they’re coming from everywhere.


You climb a small knoll and as you clear the top you see a village. You blink your eyes as it doesn’t make sense how that could be there. A small and simple village brimming with life. A cookfire is being tended by a younger and an old woman. A few men sit around sharpening tools and stringing bows. Children are running around. The place is full of life. Full of life in a place that shouldn’t be alive. You stand there at the crest watching them for a while and wishing you could join them. There’s something spiritual about what they’re doing. No, that’s not it. There’s something simple about it. Something that feels right. Something that feels natural. It’s not like a utopia but if you had to define it you would describe what you see now.


You realise that the talking has stopped and everyone has turned to look at you. You crouch a little to try and hide yourself but realise that’s silly as you’re right there in the open and they can clearly see you.


It feels like time has frozen. You don’t feel scared because they don’t seem to be angry or afraid. They’re just watching to see what you do next. To make sure you do the right thing.

A small child walks out of the crowd towards you and there is something familiar about the child. But you can’t seem to remember or recall anymore. The child stands toe-to-toe with you and looks up at you with a smile in its eyes. They cup their hands and lift them to you and you remember you had that bird in your hands the whole time. It’s gone to sleep and is soundly buzzing away in your hands. You almost don’t want to give it up but you look at the child and know it is the right thing to do.


You gently place the bird in their hands and watch them turn and walk away. Your eyes move back to the adults. They’ve all outstretched their right arms and are pointing off in the distance. It doesn’t feel like a dismissal or a banishment. But an urging to continue your journey because you’re not finished. You smile at them, but they don’t move.


You start to walk in the direction they point to.

FINALE


You really wished you had stayed behind but somehow you can’t stop your feet from moving away. It all felt so strange but so right. So familiar but so forgotten. Like the echo of a memory you didn’t realise you had.


Deep within you, you hear it speak to you again.


I see you’ve come back – you hear around you.


You don’t know how long you were walking for but you realise you’re back where you should be.


You seem changed. You seem like a different person than when we first met. I didn’t find anything on my journey but it seems you have. It seems you’ve stepped into the streams of my echoes and seen the land as I do. As I once did. As I once lived on it.


So much has been lost over the years – so many years.


So much has been forgotten – so much has been lost or hidden on purpose.


But little by little things return to this land. Wings that once flapped here so long ago have returned. Paws that once left prints here in my time are leaving their trace again. Even the trees seem to sway and bend like they used to.


This isn’t your land. It never was. But it falls under your guardianship now. It falls under your feet to protect. These creatures that return should be given their home backs. These people who looked over these lands with simplicity should be remembered once again. You can no longer close your ears to their echoes or hide your eyes from their memories.


The promise of so much is held here if only you understand your place within all of it. We can’t move back. That is only for the echoes of things already lost. And looking behind you won’t help you see where you’re going. But the path is always clearer when you know where you started from.


So will you look back to find where it all began or will you keep stumbling forward?


The choice is yours.


It’s always been yours.

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