The Fog Garden

He was so small. The top of his head barely reached Han Solo’s belt – when Han Solo was around, that is. But inside Ben Solo never felt small, except maybe next to Chewbacca, but then most humans did in close proximity to Wookiees. No, inside Ben felt helpless and he hated it. It was the one feeling he hated above all others – even more than the sharpest pain – and he vowed to his young self that someday he would never feel it again.

But there it was – that awful feeling – surging through his seven-year-old soul. Creeping out of the shadows that lurked in every corner of every house and flat he ever lived in, every classroom he ever endured, every cargo hold of every ship – especially the Millennium Falcon. Every tiny rustle made him jump. He was a cat – back arched, fur standing on end, ready to hiss. That thought amused him at least, because cats could fend for themselves. He once saw a cat fight off a pack of akk dogs all by itself. The screams were terrible.

Night was the worst because the blackness was never complete. There were always shapes – human and alien shapes – moving about in a deep shadow world. It had been a while since one of those shapes lunged, but they inevitably did. He had learned from an early age to mark escape routes wherever he went, even when Han Solo was there, holster on his hip.

Han Solo wasn’t there the day Ben was walking home from school. The flat he shared with his parent on the 128th floor of the high-rise was only a block away and accessible through the skybridge that connected the buildings at the 125th floor. The clouds – a churning broil of greys, whites, and violet-blues – drew his eyes far away. He had stopped halfway on the arch of the skywalk to gaze up through the transparisteel windows at the riot of dark and light swirling in the softness overhead.

He hadn’t heard the doors swish open at the entrance to the school a hundred paces behind him, hadn’t heard the soft-booted footfalls of the bounty hunter. He was wrenched from the clouds when his skin began to prickle. Young Ben Solo spun around then, but it was too late. The doors leading to the housing complex flew aside a hundred paces ahead. The bounty hunter’s twin or clone stood there, whipcord launcher at the ready. As the one behind slowly advanced, Ben took a faltering step forward and then another until the bounty hunter ahead did the same.

The lunge happened so fast he didn’t even think to scream. Time stretched and rolled like the clouds as he dodged and twisted, wriggled and clawed, until he was running, running back toward the school. The doors slid open at his approach. And then he went down. Heavy gauntlets crushed his ankle in a vice-grip and pulled.

Kylo Ren sat up with a gasp, instinctively flailing with all four limbs in the darkened chamber. He couldn’t breathe, and for a moment he thought he’d fallen asleep with his helmet on and his breath was fogging up the visor. He clawed at his head to get it off, but his fingers only raked through dark disheveled hair.

It was a long moment before his breathing slowed and his sight returned. He was in his private quarters on the Finalizer, his helmet resting where he had left it in Darth Vader’s ashes. The hour was late.

Art by @MyKyloRen

When he stopped shaking, he got up from the sleeping pallet and shrugged on his robes. The door to the next chamber slid open and he stepped through to his innermost sanctuary – a holosuite, the only thing that kept him grounded these days. The program was still running where he’d left it. He walked for a ways, his long bare feet making no sound on the carpet of moss and blue-grey grass, letting the fog swirl around him. While other humans feared fog – feared what it concealed – there was no place he felt safer. He lifted his head and let the cool moisture caress his face and outstretched hands.

@MyKyloRen March 17, 2016


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