This is not affiliated and/or related to The Interlopers (an amazing short story). This is just a little thing I wrote. Thank you 🙂
The sun rises in the east. It crests the horizon like the prodigal son returned home. World weary and no longer jaded, he trots the remaining mile with his knapsack hitting his back. It’s a glorious return. It’s a beautiful return. This return, though, is to an empty home. The sun rises above the Siberian tundra and only the interloper watches.
There are many names for the Interloper. Some easy. Some hard. Some forgotten. Some remembered. They all have the same root and the same heart. The Interloper. The Wanderer. The Cossack. The Nomad. The One who was Asleep and now is Awake. The Black Horse. The Silent Wind. The Nameless Successor.
The interloper hardly remembers any of the names it had once been given.
The spring thaw is thick mud against their skin and bones. Pulling free from hibernation, nerve endings come back with a fireworks’ succession of sparks. Their eyelids separate with lethargic effort. The world is just as barren as when they had left it. They’re sad to have returned. They had imagined the world would be fuller, reborn, but it’s hardly changed in their sleep. Little changes with sleep, the interloper surmises.
There is the sound of soft spoken wind, which sweeps the steppes. The interloper turns in their supine position, watching the play of the short, new grass in the breeze. Through the earth, they can hear the steps of deer and the loping gate of a bear giving chase. There is another step above all these that makes the interloper crack a smile—their rotten teeth showing in the warming morning light.
As they wait for the telling steps to come closer, the interloper’s flesh begins stitching itself back towards youth. The successive thaws that the interloper had slept through had made the state of its body worse. The meat of its arm had collapsed so that the elbow is the highest point. A part of their thigh is missing from a ravenous beast that took a bite and immediately fell ill by the poisonous flesh. Bones are worn thin and are now thickening. The Interloper lets out one loud, keening scream as they come back into the world.
Asleep, but now awake.
It is no longer dusk in the valley.
At the corner of dawn they wait.
The Interloper watches.
The Interloper takes.