till death do us consolidate

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“Drop that!”

A shot reverberated across the tensed chamber, the walls and granite floor rippling in contradictory effects. Plaster filtered down through the air like strewn confetti that caught and glinted off the sun that shone through the enormous stained glass windows, shot off the ground and littered across the reposed bodies of those fearing for their precious lives; hands covered faces as various films of expressions rolled across it.

The consequent silence reproved the chamber for any further noise than those of the gunman and his wife now glaring at each other from across a distance. The omnipresent silence silently degusted upon the hush that spread like hot oil, affecting all that breathed within the steel enforced concrete confines.

The bulge-eyed guard that took it upon himself to save the innocent people from the lunatic wielding an impressive Smith & Wesson 500 Magnum dropped his own gun and fell to the floor with a pathetic yelp.

“Thomas? Thomas, drop your weapon and come out slowly with your arms raised. No one needs to die today; do you hear me? God damn it, Thomas, do you understand what I am telling you?”

Thomas drew a deep breath, exhaled, and drew upon the archaic puissance this one moment brought, filling his arteries and head with cantankerous strength. He directed the gun at his wife and implored her with his tear-brimmed eyes. His soulful gaze slid down to the Taurus 605B2 Revolver she had aimed at his face, her confident stance that of Aphrodite, her eyebrows aloft while deep blue eyes dared him to shoot her.  

“I won’t let you leave me,” he said, his voice aquiver with conflicting emotions.

She said nothing, and captivated his eyes with her own amused glare.

She was so damn beautiful. Her olive skin was flawless, her hair dark and lustrous in effective contrast, her face innocent yet ruthless, her body voluptuous in all the right places – and her legs. Oh, sweet mother of man, her legs.

“Can I say some-” bang!

A plangent silence befell the group of people when the man who tried to speak got his head blown away. Crimson patterns stained the far wall and dripped off the smoothed surface, but no one screamed. No one dared move or even utter a prayer to their respective gods.

Thomas’s wife looked down at the headless body sprawled in the last position it will ever occupy, a smile flickering along the sleek lines of her full, red lips. Her hungry eyes shot up towards her husband, reeling him towards her.

“How can I ever leave you when I love you so? How can I leave when the madman I fell in love with has returned to me?” she asked him, her voice broken, and he ran into her embrace. He buried his tear-stained face in her bosom and engulfed her frail body with his masculine arms, pulling her into him. They kissed each other hard and long, oblivious of the onlookers that looked up to them in obvious derision. The two nuptial lovers could not keep their hands off one another as their fiery love consumed all intelligence and condensed it into that of animalistic need.

“Thomas, I know you can hear me. Surrender now or bear the consequences,” the noisy, forever alone cop screamed in aid of his megaphone.

The mechanically altered voice jolted the lovers back to reality, their eyes still glazed with sexual hunger as they reluctantly parted lips. They grinned at each other. The wife threw her head back and laughed aloud.

She pointed towards the reinforced glass doors of the bank that exited onto the street where a dozen police cars already stood in wait, guns at the ready, rotating roof lights glaring at the midday sun, and witnesses clustered in feigned horror-stricken groups, finally having something to watch than looking upon their own colourless lives.

“That bag on the floor next to the doors. I brought your M-16, love. I thought you might need it when my sister woke me up this morning. Man I hate that bitch. Never let me go again, do you understand me?”

Thomas smiled and kissed his wife hard. He let her go and strode towards the doors.

“Let’s kill some cops, shall we,” he said menacingly.   

She Is On The Other Side Of The Door

Draper-Lamia

Something woke me.

The moon was out and bright, pressing its lunar glow against the curtains along with the gentle push of the wind filtering through the window. Beyond that, the skeletal shadows of tree limbs scratched against the cloth with soundless intent.

I heard a rhythmic dripping sound as the remnants of the storm that raged during the night splashed against the concrete that ran parallel to the house.

I looked at the clock that stood on my nightstand, the glowing dials running about the clock face as if in a hurry, throwing disproportionate eidolons scattering across my room.

My heart started with a stutter.

I sat up and watched the shadows on the curtains curl and scratch, curl and scratch.

A loud boom reverberated through the entire room as the door that lead into the hallway almost gave way to a sudden blow practised upon it, and I whipped around to face it. A wailing scream caught off the walls and concentrated on me, making me clasp my hands over my ears.

I got off the bed, screaming; the instinctual part of me trying to outdo the noise. The wail stopped. I took my hands off my ears, listening to hear any sound underneath the silence, waiting for the obvious pregnancy to explode a second time.

The silence stretched, evolved and became something akin to a living being, listening as intently as I did, watching me from all around.

Having had enough of this nonsense, I rushed to the door; not even contemplating what it was that had struck the enormous blow. However, just as I was about to turn the knob, a scratchy voice called my name.

A chill ran through my entire body and made me stop.

John. The shortened version of Jonathan – a nickname I have not heard for twenty years.

A twenty-year-old memory unravelled itself in my mind and the chill became an icy grip of sheer horror.  

She made me freeze in front of the door as I became aware of a presence silently waiting on the other side.

No, it was more than just being aware. I could see her clearly – a haggard old woman with skin as white and translucent as soapy water, her hair falling from her head in clotted strands, her dress black and rotten. She was softly pressing her hand against the door as she placed an old, weathered face with black holes for eyes right next to it, listening intently, her lips pulled into a smile that said she found what she was looking for. The hand that touched the door gently stroked it, as if lovingly, as if this door would give way to the best prize she has ever received in her rotten life.

She listened to my breathing.

She listened to my heartbeat now as fast as that of an overexerted horse.

Mother had been right that night, all those many years ago. Mother had been right all along. She told me if a kid does not behave, the Lamia will come and get him, and gobble him up.

I could see the Lamia’s mouth stretch into an enormous circle, her gums grey and putrid, and her tongue as red as the congealed blood that pushed through my veins. I could see the door bulge inward under the gentle pressure of her skeletal hand, rotting as it gives.

She did not die that night. How can she? She is forever.

She always collects.

Contact

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“All personnel return to your bunkers and activate cyberhide. All personnel return to your bunkers and activate cyberhide,” AVIS droned through all possible space, her hollow, metallic voice sending chills through everyone. Despite the fact that safety was key, activating the Cyberhide did not instigate the safety it provided when something this serious seemed to be afoot.

“All personnel return to your bunkers and activate cyberhide. Cryogenic systems activated in five and counting. Defense, resume your battle stations at Sector three, seven and Delta. Eyes to the sky. Eyes to the sky. Initiating cryogenic countdown at four fourteen, four thirteen, four twelve, . . .”

Panic.

Everyone was screaming as they rushed to their bunkers, scrambling to safety. Mass hysteria, though luckily they did not trample on one another. That would have left more of a mess than anything else. I ignored their screams as I rushed to the far side of a narrow corridor, barred by a great steel door. AVIS granted me access after the identification system initialized retina and fingerprint scans, opening the door with a loud hiss. The thick metal door, as was the metal layer in the walls into which it lead, constructed to even withhold nuclear attacks, swung open to reveal a dark, circular room. On the floor, a smaller circular radiance danced with figures running across the surface, projecting images of classified documents and outside surveillance on the surrounding walls. I glanced at a small rectangular screen set into the wall on which the room temperature was displayed. The readout still looked good.

From across the room, the Major General looked at me expectantly. My throat was as dry as frozen carbon dioxide.

“Well?” he asked in a rather gruff voice when I hesitated. I overlooked that.

“Code Zen, Major General. Prepare to fall out.”

At the mention of that level of emergency, everyone in the room looked at me, as if aghast, as if I was a little toddler accidentally given the title of General, high-ranking officer having the clearance to kick their asses when the need arise. I cleared my throat in disgust. I hated when they stare. I hated when their reaction slowed down to that of an ass, making me feel the idiot. However, I guess my hesitation also brought some sort of mental delay.

“Cryogenic countdown at three thirty, three twenty-nine, three twenty-eight, . . .” AVIS’s voice never changed pitch.

“Major General, get your ass in gear and follow procedure,” I said when I suddenly realized that time was of the essence. “Stop staring and get a move on, we’re going to the crash site. By god, we could already be dead and wouldn’t even know it, exchanging subtle pleasantries. You two, give me eyes in the sky. I need this in our databank. Find out what those dark objects in the skies are. NOW, NOW, yesterday already!”

o – – – – – – o

It was dark outside. To the north-west, Sectra and Ullna have aligned to make a dim circle within another, giving little light to the surroundings, but that was not much of a bother. Fifty troops have joined me, Major General Volk (by insistence), Captain Zlik, Lieutenant Grober and Doctor Proc against the side of a low hill, above which a magnificent burst of light punctured the night sky, accompanied by columns of smoke from the supposed aircraft having crash landed just beyond the rim. A flickering, orange hue amalgamated with the whiter light, adding to the spectrum. However, the light alone was not enough to reveal anything that was left of what looked like an unknown fleet, still hovering in the sky. They arrived without warning, these objects, about ten minutes ago, when this aircraft disbanded from its formation and landed just outside our Headquarters and laboratories. The crash was loud and electrifying, spooking everyone out of their minds. The automatic stress beacon sounded, and as consequence gave AVIS the order to initiate Cryogenic Shutdown. It’s gonna leave a mess.

I signaled for the troops to stay low while the rest of the commanding officers and I went to investigate. In the distance, I could still hear AVIS’s incessant countdown. At least the other significant personnel are safe. Replacing one another has always been easy, if you were part of the armed forces. The lab techs and scientists were one of a kind. Almost irreplaceable.

We reached the rim with no delay. My heart was racing. I could feel it in my fingers as it disappeared within the side of my Crynon, pressed against DNA receivers. Around us, the white of the world was a beauty to remember. The vast tundra sparkled like mounds of diamonds in what little light there was, and relined the numerous hills that stood against the darker horizon. I was scared, having to admit. Not necessarily of losing my life, for the life of one matters no more than the greater purpose we as a civilization stood for. I could still be replaced. I was scared that this unknown fleet have come to infiltrate or destroy our home, destroy us as a civilization altogether, ridding us from the universe. It did not seem fair to us, in particular.

I scouted ahead for anything unusual as the others lined up a little way behind me.

“Don’t -“

Upon hearing the strangely fine voice, I saw the crumpled craft, as magnificent now as it must have been before the crash. Apart from the orange tongues of raw destruction that threatened to engulf it, it was as white as its surroundings. A bright light still burst from a fixture on its side, just above some sort of emblem.

That was when I almost fainted.

I recognized it. This emblem held so much significance that it rendered me motionless. That specific emblem adorned all the classified files we have of this specific visitor, this specific world located along the farthest reaches of the universe. Impossible. How? The red striped rectangle with the darker blue one in the top left corner sent chills through my elongated body. The stars in the blue rectangle mocked me somehow, as if saying: “Hello, sucker, missed us?”

I looked down, into two eyes, only two, staring at me willfully, the light within menacing. Its two legs were splayed behind it while it tried to stand up with the second set of double protrusions pressed to the ground, five tendrils snaking around on each ligament. There was a fine set of hair of some sort that covered its head and part of its face, as seen from under its headgear. From within a pocket the creature withdrew something reminiscent to what we would call a rock, ripping a silver pin from its head. It did something with its face as it threw the rock at me. I did not catch it, though. I only lifted my own gun, cocked my head, and thought what an ugly piece of work this was.

“- expect us to come in peace, motherfucker. See you in hell!”

With a mighty explosion, the second war of the worlds began.

Graeae

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“What is it . . . you want . . . my dear?” They spoke in unison, their voices raspy, hollow, without emotion.

“I want -“

“You want?” there was a dry slither in their voice, which made my skin crawl. “You want? All you people ever want is want. You sicken me.”

“Something awful has happened. I need you to give a soul back.” I knew how they were. I disregarded their confusing rudeness.

“My, my, what on earth are you talking about, boy? Does it look like we collect souls? Be off with you, then, son. There’s a good lad.” Their eye regarded me with hostility as they sucked their lips in annoyance.

“I’m not leaving until you give her soul back. Otherwise . . . ” I was adamant.

“You want us to make you leave? That it? You are hardly at liberty to make petty threats, boy, especially when in our domain. You just remember who you’re talking to. Just a small, undetectable pull of a string, and you’ll -“

“You don’t understand. The world needs her. She . . . she died too soon. She was not meant to die. I saw . . .”

“Once the string has snapped, there is nothing more anyone can do, boy, now shoo. You are wasting our time. Go on, get.” By that they pulled on a string that suddenly appeared across the cavern. It’s once blue radiance turned into a sparkling gold, before it burst into million sparks, and vanished.

“There must be something you can do. I . . . I will give anything.” Pleading. I had to persuade them.

“GO AWAY!” Their voice bellowed across the open expanse and ricocheted off the rocky walls. Small chips crumbled away, and splashed into acrid sludge below. Millions upon millions of blue strings appeared and trembled as walls shook, until one by one, they slowly settled into evanescence.

“Please.”

Pause. Pause. Whispers. Pause.

“There is . . . one thing we might try, child.” Their voice was as sweet and raspy as a honey comb. “But it calls for something that you will never be able to have back.”

“I’ll do it.”

“Hasty, aren’t we.” They cackled, their delight evident. Their eye watched me closely.

“I will do whatever it takes. It’s important that she lives.”

“Boy, once you go down this road, there is no returning.” Whispers slithering down my spine as the cavern was suddenly plunged into darkness. Two thin beams of blueish light cut across the black, the one pulsing, throbbing, the other as still as the blackness appeared to be. “You wanted this, we saw it in your heart, We see everything. We know what this girl will do for the world. We acknowledge that. Yet, we don’t see you, son.”

“I understand.” I understood.

“This was your destiny. This was the destiny you chose to lead. Your destiny you chose to exchange for those of another. A rare quality, boy, though we hardly ever care about right or wrong. We’re just here to pull the strings.”

I only nodded. I knew they could see me. Their eye could see into minds, let alone perceive through darkness.

A single twang as my string was pulled, whilst the other began to tremble as my energy got absorbed by hers. It was the right thing to do.

A dry cackle was the last thing I heard when all oblivion met me to drag me down into its embrace.

Luminary

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Darkness is needed for light to thrive.

I have wandered alone – sad, despondent. For decades. Millenniums. Eons. But minutes only. The creatures of earth has evolved to see ages merge into another, lifetimes replace another, yet it only felt like single, fleeting moments. I am but unaware of time as my sadness grew – the burden a pressure bearing on my chest, heavier and heavier, slowing me to a crawl.

I have circled the world countless of times, alone, feared, disrespected, ignored. I have been the cause of many deaths, many heartaches, yet I have been the cause of many happiness, too. Apart from that, I have only been blamed for what I did wrong, instead of receiving praise for the things I did right. I have become distant, afraid of what my presence caused, yet it could not be helped. I even tried to avoid them, but to no avail. I am undying, and this all-consuming darkness is a part of me like the sadness I have come to acknowledge as my only companion. I am an essential part of life, which caused creatures to use me to their advantage. However, they still feared me.

I guess their fear only resulted as consequence to their own stupidity, their carelessness, but time has made them too proud to realize their mistakes and rather blamed it on something other than themselves . . . like me. Time taught them denial within the scopes of fear, and they were bound. Fear is but the consequence of truth, and that is the worst kind to have. I did not try to correct them, I did not even try to establish a relation, for I knew that anything which might have resulted in some kind of successful form of communication, has been long gone. A dozen sets of creatures did not have enough time to begin to understand what I was, and why I did what I did. Above all, they did not have the time to stop and listen.

Despite everything, I remained alone.

Until one starry time, I was walking within the dense embrace of a forest. The lights of a small village could be seen through a break in the trees, dimly lit by distance, and for the first time, I felt no apprehension of passing by. This was strange. The skies have opened and poured its contents down around me. I did not know what rain felt like, though I always wondered what it must’ve been like having raindrops run down your body. Did it sting? Did it tingle? Was it warm or cold? The only thing I could admire was the aftermath. Shiny, vibrant, new. The fresh smells. Did the creatures also feel like that when the rain has stopped, or did they blame the rain for everything bad that’s happened during its presence, as well? I should ask Rain some day.

I entered a clearing, sure to keep my footing clear of any debris that might cause noise, despising drawing any attention to myself, when I spotted a light up ahead. Unsure of what I’m seeing, I stopped, turned away, turned back, and just stared. All the years of ridicule and blame has made me cautious, afraid of more hurt, afraid of confrontation, and I slowly retraced my steps, keeping the light in sight. However, as I applied more distance between us, the light dimmed, and finally winked out. I paused as my darkling shadows filled all that was replaced. I realized I couldn’t pause too long, for then the world will hold it against me again.

I entered the clearing a second time and watched as light blossomed from the far end. The rain did not touch it, though it sparkled like diamonds as it fell about. Apart from the artificial light the towns produced, and those of the stars and moon overhead, this is the first time I have encountered anything remotely resembling what Sun was. He must be the happiest being in this universe. The creatures cannot blame him for anything except worship his very existence. Without him, all else will perish.

I crept towards the light, and it grew even brighter. By this time, I was already drawn, unable to stop myself from approaching, wanting to have it take me wherever it wanted me to go. I felt my worries slip away. I cared no more.

It did not work that way, though. When I was but a foot from the light, its glare almost blinding, I saw within it the form of a girl, her white hair and delicate, pale skin the source of the most wondrous luminance. I could not take my eyes off her. I was filled with this keen interest, this keen and acute sense of paternal sense of responsibility, as if this being is mine, and mine alone to protect. Since the world, and Sun, for that matter, was dependent on my constant movement, I became so engrossed in this girl lying in the clearing that I forgot all about what I and everything else needed me to do.

Without much other thought, I stepped into the light.

“Do you know who I am?”

“I don’t.”

“Why have you stepped into my light? Why do you not burn?”

“I . . . don’t know. I . . .”

“You’re lonely, aren’t you? I can sense it. You are mine, now.”

” . . .”

“Don’t worry, I, now too, am lonely. Want me to accompany you on your rounds?”

From that day forward, everything changed. I received a companion, and I thanked the stars for rejecting her. She hurt, and I understood. No one liked to be rejected, cast aside as if meaning nothing at all. In time, though, her hurt and my caution became the definition of happiness. Together we stood against adversity, and laughed in the faces of those idiotic enough to throw their sorrow in my face, as if I cared what they did when I came round. She’s a delight, and somehow, I delighted her. No anger, no blame, no denial. I really had to run to catch up with my passage that time, but this time, with a sweet love that could not bear to live without my darkness, and I without her starlight, we conquered all our sadness.

Today, she still walks by my side, hand in hand, shining as she would have when still dancing on the skies above.

Darkness is needed for light to thrive.

I Have Come

Wandering_soul

I am not comprised of matter, though I am.

I have no brain, yet I am capable of thought.

I am invisible, and I am moving.

I see this world, yet the world cannot see me. I am invincible, immortal, an undying soul come to investigate what has been wrought upon this planet. Not the only one with habitable conditions, not the only one touched by the hands of evolution, though the only one dying by the hands of its selfish inhabitants.

If earth should die, all else, even that beyond our comprehension, will perish along with it. We cannot let that happen.

Power.

I have come to investigate, to scrutinize, and to rid this world of anything that might cause it harm. I have the authority, and I have come to pass judgment upon those who have evil set in their heart, in their mind, buried within the layers that is their soul. The IPA (Intergalactic Planetary Alliance) had already sent two agents, and both attempts had failed their mission. At first those agents took it upon themselves to destroy the planet altogether, to rid everything there is to enjoy. Which was a mistake. However, they had gone soft, and joined the humans in their vain fight for survival, though nothing has changed since then. I guess they did not know what they avoided by going rogue.

The Alliance was skeptical, at first, letting us take a handle on the new mission, for we are ruthless, heartless beings, and we cannot be destroyed. However, apart from that, as contradiction to our way of being, peace was what we sought, and peace is what we’re going to get. If we should join the void into which all else will fall, we would be forever lost, and we would go mad, and we would never be the same again, yet we will live on forever.

I am in the middle of a field. The wind strokes its hand across the tall grass and let it cascade into million wavelets, crashing about me, and falling off the horizon. At night, with the moon at its fullest, the grass is cast as silver threads, and everything surrounding that is dabbed and changed with lunar glow. As am I, it seems, pulsing blue energy through what I am, cast as light, and let it fall about me. The moon is powerful, as it holds earth in motion, and makes me more than what I’m not. Looking at the stars, I cannot see my home, though I know it’s there.

I am alone.

It was my choice.

The sacrifice has already been made.

Costing me a few seconds, I was about the earth. My blue radiance covered the expanse of night, and that on the other half that was day, inching closer towards the surface, to all that lived, and was about to cease living. Programmed to stop whatever beat at the pace of human hearts, I would diminish them to what they came from. Afterwards, when all dust has settled, I am but to live amongst that which still live on, the fauna and flora of this wonderful planet, and I will set in motion the beginning of a new world, the new line of evolution, and I will see to it that no other planet will ever be affected by the destruction of earth again.

Everything will – – –

Illusion

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An influx of patriotic screams owned by an army of dedicated, yet scared men would forever more be purged of cruelty and hurt when the time has come for this war to end.

An influx of air as multiple chests would expand to draw the breath of their other, and contract when their last breath be still upon this earth’s last defense.

Gleaming armor, spears, swords. Gleaming, muscular bodies of sweaty horses at the ready, snorting in anticipation. The sun battling it out with the barren battlefield and everything thereon; but the mask of all quiet.

“I have come to take what is yours,” one said.

“And I have come to defend what surely cannot be given so easily,” the other replied.

“By Zeus, agreeing could have spared your men and secured the safe return to their wives and children.”

“My men will rid yours in a blink of an eye, friend. Do not speak too soon when in fact you cannot know the outcome.”

“I am confident.”

“As am I. No wonder you speak so freely of me giving in and surrendering my livelihood. Be gone, son of Hades!”

Swords swung in arcs as sparks celebrated married metal. In the distance, the men could but stand and watch as their captains battled for the sake of survival; the one asking, the other refusing. The world began to shake as their anger grew; one’s persistence intensified as the other’s refusal began to weaken. Horses grew nervous and tramped about, their glistening bodies ready for anything. The ground beneath their feet trembled as its hurt was shared, plumes of dust wafting into the air, obscuring the captains within. Startled birds took flight from trees that circled the clearing, in search of another, safer haven.

And all vanished.

“Give me your heart,” one said, without defense, naked to the bone.

“I cannot,” the other replied as the dust settled, still holding a bloody sword, and all that could be seen was the depths of each of their eyes, watching, guarding, pleading.

“Then you leave me no choice but to take it by force, however long it will take. I have hope.”

“Your motivation is false. Hope is but an illusion.”

“Then love is an illusion, as with it comes you. Tell me you are not an illusion.”

A single tear prodded down his cheek, made its way down his chin, and fell to the dust. He discarded his defenses; his weaponry, his armor, and exposed his heart to the one he distrusts the most, but could not bear to lose.

“The fight is over.”

Charon

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The great hall of mourning is but the domain of thick columns of smoke, interlaced with red flickers of light as eternal fires burned beyond. A constant moaning could be heard throughout eternity, for day and night did not apply to the afterlife, as did time. Distance proved to be an illusion, since the hallway seemed to stretch into forever, doubled-up on itself, and ended where all else started.

I’m standing on a small platform in the middle of Acheron, awaiting mine. I don’t have a bag, nor a scrap of clothing on my back. Standing as naked as the day I was born, and died, I listen as a gradual hush descended upon my ears, a silence borne of promise, of happening. Then, a soft rippling sound as bow sliced through murky waters. Groans of non-human origin as wood settled into a slower pace. The occasional thud as his long oar caught firm thresholds. Upon revelation, I did not anticipate the knowledge I have of him to be any different from what I perceived when his form finally coalesced as he emerged from the smoke. Like Hades himself.

Charon.

His ferry already contained two other souls, bathed in white silk, despite the risk of soot discoloring. They’re sitting with their heads in their hands, rocking their upper bodies back and forth, back and forth. Slowly Charon steered his rotten boat towards the platform on which I waited, as if he had all the time his black heart could ever desire. Of that, we all had plenty. Draped in black silk that flowed about him as if enshrouded with smoke formed by his own inherent furnaces, etched through the fabric, I see a frail, pale-white skeletal body, punctuated by every rise and fall of his shroud. A great black beard ran from the top of his chin and seemed to fill the entire length of the boat, caked to the sides, which formed the seat on which his two passengers sat, swaying. Two black orbs adorned the sockets in which eyes should have been, and it felt like he could see right through me. It felt as if he could know be by just one black glance.

Despite the dry heat, I felt chills running up and down my body.

Extending a thin hand, covered with what looked like barnacles, and tipped with sharp, claw-like nails, he finally came to a halt against the platform. A piece of his boat broke away as that happened, bobbing on the surface, before a translucent hand, tinged with the red from overhead casting, snatched it, and dragged it down. There was a shimmer of a face before everything went dark again.

I looked at his extended hand, and wondered what he wanted. One of his passengers looked up with doubt on her face. She was quite beautiful, with blonde hair, and freckles. She pointed to the back of the boat, where I could see the shimmer of thousands of golden coins, a contradiction to its dull surroundings. I realized what Charon wanted, though I did not have any to give. I shook my head from side to side. Charon’s arm disappeared within his shroud, and he started to bear away from the platform with his oar. Analyzing the situation, I had but one option if I wanted to leave the platform.

I jumped into his boat.

Immediately after, there was a rush of air as Charon suddenly increased his boat’s speed, and I was flung backwards. Falling into his mound of golden coins, holding on for dear life, ironically, his speed only increased as smoke turned into solid buttresses that supported the red tinge above, which made it look solid, and about to fall down. The other two passengers held on, as well, their white silk garments fluttering like wisps. Charon, it seemed, was the only one unaffected by the speed, and stood firm.

Before long, Acheron merged with an even wider river, Styx, and all smoke disappeared. At the end of this new river, shimmering darkness held truth to what lay beyond the end of the murky tunnel. I could not fathom its darkness but to be something of an entity, solid as these new arched brick walls seemed solid, linked by a concrete beam running into it as if by the means of force. The boat’s speed dropped considerably, which would have relieved my erratic heartbeat had I still one to calm. Dull thuds could be heard as the journey became bumpy. I peered over what was left of the gunwale, and saw, to my horror, millions upon millions of  bodies romping about, splashing water into the boat as they tried to acquire leverage against drowning, although I seemed to have lost the point. The moaning of their sadness tore through me, through what was left, and I almost followed them into the water. As long as their suffering affected me no more. As long . . .

“You should have brought a coin,” the blonde passengers said, her face sad and forlorn as she watched the other darkness approach. “Perhaps it will be better for you to stay here than go in there.”

I did not quite understand what she meant by that when Charon turned around, trailed by his silky shroud, and extended his barnacled hand. Again, I shook my head, and pleaded with my eyes. I did not want to go into the water. I did not want to join these masses, bemoaning the regret I felt. I did not want to be in there, remembering all that I have done in the forelife. However, before I could object, with a fast flick of his hand, I was in the water. I felt myself sink. I frantically searched for something to keep me above water as something grabbed hold of my feet, trying to drag me down. All there was, was slippery bodies. flailing bodies searching for a delay, struggling to stay above the surface. I watched as Charon gave a wicked smile, his chapped lips scraping against rotten teeth, those twin black orbs now looking down on me.

I smiled too.

There Chairon stands, who rules the dreary coast –
A sordid god: down from his hairy chin
A length of beard descends, uncombed, unclean;
His eyes, like hollow furnaces on fire;
A girdle, foul with grease, binds his obscene attire.
                                                                                              – Aeneid (Virgil)

Weekly Writing Challenge: Backward

Be kind, don’t rewind

mos-trailer-2

You can start at the end, and then lead us straight back to a traditionally ordered sequence of events (it worked for Citizen Kane). Or you can give us the full Memento treatment and take us backward one step at a time to the very origin of your story. Whatever works: just hook your readers with a powerful conclusion (that comes first!), and then captivate them with the story of how it came to pass.

o – – – – – o

My name is Calvin . . .

. . . and I just stood there, unable to move, staring, overlooking the bluff against which enormous, angry waves broke into sprays of salty foam, far below where everything – my world and all in it – seemed to slip my reach. It was as if the waves knew, as if they tried to take matters into their own hands, mocking me. Mauled into a tattered wreck of steel, the car steeled itself against the ocean’s fury, until finally it sank beneath its bosom. My heart beat only once, before it stopped, and I followed . . . her.

o – – – – – o

I woke up in a hospital room, as clinically white and superficial as one might expect, though familiar. I immediately became aware of an almost intolerable sore throat, the pain obdurately persistent against the desperate consumption of cold water from the carafe beside my bed. The light that managed to filter through the otherwise blinded window was sharp, forcing me to squint against its lethal blades as it cut against the sides of my head. The only splash of color originated from a bunch of flowers standing on a dresser, a floral arrangement that did not succeed in lifting my spirits at all – supposing that was why it stood there in the first place. The reason explaining my presence in an uncomfortable hospital bed instead of my own somewhere else eluded me. My head was blank, and I had no recollection of anything that’s happened before I opened my eyes. Confused, I called for a nurse, asking her whether she knew my story, to which she promptly shook her head, hurrying away with an expression akin to horrific sorrow. To that, I insisted adding weight to the call button, adamant to drive someone somewhere to lose their mind and spill the sympathetic details; why I have a sore throat, why my chest felt about to rip apart, why it felt like I should not exist, why, why, why.

o – – – – – o

My throat felt dry. It felt like I could not breathe, and I knew that panic was not helping anything rather than constricting my lungs even more. Pressing the gas pedal against the floor, frantically fiddling with the signal switch as I weaved through wet traffic, sleet and dark clouds adding to my already troubled mood, I scanned for the white sedan. Frustration and fear began to corrode me from the inside, eating away at everything there is to consume. If I did not catch up to her, she might be lost to me, and I would lose all hope of ever succeeding in the life I’ve finally set up. With or without her. Somewhere in the distance horns blared, ensued by a crash and screaming. My heart sank to the bottom of my shoes as I pulled over, seeing as people gathered around the edge of the bluff.

o – – – – – o

I climbed out of bed when no one seemed to respond to my incessant buzzing. The horrified nurse was the last person I’ve seen in about an hour. Frustrated like I think I might have been once before, I walked to the door, peeked out, looking up and down the halls with its shiny linoleum, the reflections of everything on it as if descending into another realm; still the same, but different somehow. The silence that decked the halls hung about in thick velvet, draping over my ears, confusing my judgment as a filigree of sound might have been imagination, and deeper silence might have been the sound of reality. Without thinking why this floor was equipped with no regular hospital hustle bustle, I ran the length of the hall towards the elevators at the far end, hoping that someone would leap at me, proving that, besides the nurse, there was no apocalyptic outbreak which consequently left me as the sole survivor. The elevator doors were plastered with notices when I finally reached it. All bearing my picture.

o – – – – – o

I swallowed against a lump that decided to form in my throat, and hot tears threatened to burst from my eyes. As I held the documents in my hands, sitting behind the desk, looking but not seeing, knowing its contents, the first tear fell across my cheek. The phone rang incessantly, but I did not have the heart to pick it up and allow the person on the other side knowledge of my crying. Other files, some probably more significant than the one in my hand, lay scattered across my desk. The computer screen was blank. My heart was hammering so fast that it left a heavy feeling spreading across my chest. I felt time ticking by, like a passerby brushing against your shoulder, like a passerby purposefully brushing against your shoulder. Ticking, ticking, telling me that I was the fool.

Suddenly my emotionally blurry vision caught something on the file that did not make much sense. I frowned as I dried my face. They had told me that the prognosis was imminent, yet with the correct treatment, it stood a chance to go into remission. I did not deny that. It was something I had to accept However . . . the prescribed medicine was completely wrong.

I had to warn her!

o – – – – – o

Memory flushed back in a black torrent of guilt, anguish and self-loathing. I slowly retraced my steps, re-entering the room they provided me with, locking the door behind me, in a daze. I knew what I needed to do; what I wanted to do. I lost her. It was my fault she died. Only my fault. The prognosis was correct, but not the medicine. Not the medicine. Bastard, not the fucking medicine. You should have known, you should have checked the file twice before letting her get in the car. You were selfish, thinking only about yourself. You should have checked, you blubbering bastard.

I went to the bathroom and filled the tub with water, chewing on the sleeping pills the nurse had provided before she ran off. I did not blame her. Not at all, no. I got into the tub, submerging myself into the water as I felt myself drifting away. Water enveloped my face and drew around my nose, sealing all air intake. The pills were strong. I knew they were. They would ensure job completion.

The last thought that crossed my mind was of a pretty face. A pretty face with long black hair. Something could have happened.

o – – – – – o

It had been a fine morning. It was raining, and everything around me adorned the look of new life as the murky colors made way for a more glossy coat. New beginnings, new meaning. It was going to be a beautiful day. At work, the lady with the raven-black hair and hazel eyes finally agreed to go on a date with me. I was exalted. I had another thing to look forward to:

“I’m thankful that you took care of this prescription for me, Dr. Calvin. I will see you at seven then?” she winked.

There Was A Dream

White Horse Eye

I had a very strange dream some days ago, and thought I would share it in quite a different fashion. In some ways dreams may be entertaining, whereupon others may help you remember stuff, or see dilemmas in different ways. This just alarmed.

o—–o

It was a small boy of about seven who was standing in the middle of the road while chaos seemed to overwhelm everything around him, not blinking an eye but looking, transfixed onto something I could not see. An explosion rendered me incapable of getting anywhere near him, leaning against a smoldering car. I guess my legs deemed useless, as did my voice. All I could do was watch in abject horror; a witness within the grip of complete inaction. 

He was tall for his age, black hair, big brown eyes that perceived everything going on around him, as if by digital means adding to the surface of his eyes pictures of what he saw, making it seem even bigger. I must’ve seen him somewhere before; perhaps in another lifetime where happy endings had been worth the wait. Soot covered his face and once white clothes, now haggard and worn, as if he had been crawling and running his entire life. It brought dusty tears to my eyes. His feet were bare, covered in dirt and ash. If not for his head of hair and big eyes, tears glistening on the periphery of expulsion, the boy’s drab figure might have successfully blended with his surroundings, as gray and dull as he looked, and I might have missed him.

Black tinged smoke sifted across the road, made the windows move in mirror images, and wafted up and into cleaner air above the burning city. Walls, as lifeless as it had always been, looked bleaker still, painted thereon black elongated patterns that only bombs had the vision to create. The road was littered with scattered debris, but no bodies. That was a relief. I did not dare look elsewhere is search of any, though.

Somehow, this whole scene looked beautiful, in some twisted kind of sense. Perhaps it was the thought of how impossible it seemed to be in the middle of some kind of war, looking as if hope was lost, wondering over and over: Why me? Why here? Why us? Perhaps it felt to be the last thing I will ever see, and being the person that I am, I might just see the beauty when all else fails. Perhaps it was the movement all around, slow but sure, moving as if unable to stop. Wars had to pass sooner than later, right?

Movement to my right caught my attention. I saw a woman, black hair, sad brown eyes, her mouth agape as she screamed and reached for something. The boy, I realized. She screamed and screamed his name, of which I could not hear a single syllable. I was deaf, too, which was a funny surprise. I did not realize until then. She clambered over boxes and desks and burning tires, her state of mind all but oblivious to the danger, whilst everything around her exploded into little fragments. Someone was shooting at her. I tried to warn her, but she had only eyes for her son. She did not seem to care about whatever shot at her from behind, like cowards in a bad cowboy movie. The boy did not lose his stance, nor did it look like his face had any more emotion left. His youth was yanked from him the moment they started to run and got separated along the way.

Mother caught up to him and yanked him from the ground, encircling her one arm around his waist while she placed the other behind his head, burying his face against her shoulder. Bullets shimmered and bounced off every surface except her back. I was glad. I watched them as they ran to my left, towards the curb, where she could easily vanish behind the corner of the building behind me. Despite the danger ahead, I got to see someone survive.

A bomb exploded next to her. Dread filled my world and made everything real. 

She ducked, and covered her son’s body with her own. At first, it looked like the bomb would do no damage, perhaps just scar some tissue, until a second bomb enshrouded them in flame and pure white smoke, twirling into the air like a tornado.

I got my voice back and screamed: NO! NO! WHY, you son of a bitch? NO!  

The next moment I was walking on a cobbled road, with a huge boulder barring my way. Except for tendrils of white fog drifting like a forlorn soul, the day was clear with little to no clouds. Mother and son stood next to the road, looking at me. They were holding hands. They were still covered in soot. Yet, they seemed free. The mother smiled at me as I started to climb the boulder, urging her son forward.

She told him, Go on, son, show him the rain.