The Masquerade games: In the centre of the magic

This is a short observation of the masquerade games that occured here in Bulgaria, in my hometown from 27.01 to 29.01. It captures one side of the games, a fiction one if I may say. This is how I see it, how I think it actually is deep in its sense.  I attach some photos for a better picture of the event. Enjoy and if you are interested in the nature of the event you can check more here- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kukeri  :-)

 

 

 

The Masquerade games: In the centre of the magic

So masquerade games I say. You probably think at first about a masked ball of some sorts. It is very different from a dance in a palace, from what Cinderella experiences, a night covered in silk, of rich clothing and fancy hairstyles.

These masquerade games are primal. They are animalistic, ancient, exotic, mysterious and frightening. And they do not last for only one night.

The day becomes bright. I can hear the distant sound of their bells. I imagine, hearing it days before that, echoing through the villages, the towns and the countries they come from. Closing my eyes I can hear it pounding back in the past, right to its very beginning.

It’s loud this shout of drums and kavals, but it’s beautiful. It comes from all around, different layers of music pressing each other to create a bizarre symphony of traditions gathered together for this one long lasting ritual. It is music that fills you with energy, with freedom.

Time stops. The arrows of the big clock are silent, they cease their movement for 3 days letting everything and everyone float on its sands lost, captured in a sweet reverie. I breathe it, making it fill my mind, taking me away from all that’s real. I smell dim in the air mixed with sweet wine and tasty bread. It feels like spring somewhere in my imagination although it’s cold and fierce winter. I ignore it proceeding through the crowds.

All around me I see the human faces of all those man, women and children today and tomorrow bearing one name – kukeri.

But I prefer looking at their demonic faces, at those masks made out of feathers, of animals, or carved from wood; horror black faces, long black hairs, horns, sticking out tongues and sharp teeth. Goats, bears, sheeps, creatures from old and forgotten myths with long bodies and hairy heads. Grotesque. Ridiculous if must.

Fire burns before my eyes. They set it as they put those animal skins and fur. With animal, beast resembling gestures and sounds they chase away the evil spirits that roam the mortal world. They make all the wrong, all that which makes us ill go away. Paradox or not, they hunt the devil while looking like one.

For those hours of display they transform themselves into something that lives deep inside them. With a simple ritual that binds people together they become exorcists of the paranormal which translates itself with the fears that nest in people’s souls. With their loud and heavy bells they rip the scary, poke it with pitchforks, hit it with clubs, and get married next by it creating a new beginning shutting off the darkness. Then a moment of silence occurs before 10 or 30 or 40 or a100 people jump all together making the bells sounds as one, chanting in the vast finally ridding people from the evil spirits.

Some do not believe in this ritual. Surely they take the fun out of it, but always look upon it too shallow. It has roots that go way beyond a simple drinking and eating all you can event. Hm, maybe they chose not to understand it and trouble themselves.

Many, like me, understand it, feel it close, feel it…ours, and without spoken words appreciate and admire it.

Truly it is very amazing to observe from aside this game of play pretend. You experience it with the participants in the masquerade. You cannot escape being dragged into the colorful event. You cannot ignore just how much the ordinary scene had changed into a theatre of creatures. You cannot chase the enchanting music of different nations from your mind.

There is however one thing you can do. You can release yourself from your everyday skin and dive “bare footed” and clear headed into the rhythm, the game, the dance with the devil, tasting all the elements from the materialization of this mysterious and masked tradition.

 

 

Flash Fiction today with two stories!

It’s Friday and time for some flash fiction ! 

Today there are two non-related  stories  in one post! But they actually do have something in common…hmm.

Enjoy :) 

 Dogs bark when diggers dig

“Do we have to do this?”

Rover gave him an angry look. Monroe had been asking pointless questions like this for over an hour now. Rover held his nerves trying not to shout at him:

“Yes, we have to. Now shut up and give me a hand. It’s not going to end sooner if you just stand there, hands in pockets.”

“But…” Monroe’s lazy voice spoke again.

“No objections! What’s wrong with you?!  Rover whispered to him through gritted teeth. He was this close to yelling at him.

Monroe sighted, rolled eyes,  pulled up the sleeves of his sweaty shirt, grabbed the shovel and started digging again.

The night was black as usual and mostly silent, with a bright moon, shining upon their digging experience.

A dog barked somewhere far, far away, but some fellow canine followed him in that dreadful idea, and then another, and another, and another one, some distant, some closer until all their cries in the night synchronizing into one barking crescendo.

Monroe always thought when dogs bark like this they chitchat on some very controversial topic judging by the woof’s and grows.

The two men didn’t pay any notice to that just continued digging. They had to make sure all those bodies they’ve buried along the years are still deep down in the ground. Rover and Monroe surely didn’t want any guests from the past at their doorstep. With the whole zombie infection running through town right now you never know.

They had to know.

 

*            *             *

Anonymous

I know how he feels every time the door gets opened and the cold night air comes into the warm and loud café. It touches his skin with icy tongues; cold fingers run on his back and the wind feels like a frozen kiss on his neck.

I can see him shiver and shake his shoulders to chase the cold away. Then he sips some of the hot chocolate before him, and I can tell it warms his entire body for a second, hot liquid rolling down his throat.  But it’s too hot and it burns his tongue, so he squeezes his eyes from the short steaming sensation. He orders a glass of water, hoping it would cool him a bit, and it does but still the taste in his mouth remains somehow flavorless with the next drink of chocolate. It pinches the tip of his tongue. He shakes head ignoring that, and continues to have his conversation with the rest of the people at the table.

Interesting, but he doesn’t notice me staring at him, licking my lips, biting them. He doesn’t feel me like I feel him. He probably can’t.

I hear his heartbeat, pulse after pulse; I feel his warm and sweet breath; the vibration of every thought he has before transforming it to speech. I feel them like my own.

I only come here because of him, two times a week, every Wednesday and Friday, exactly at 20:00 PM. No one knows me, and I know no one. I am only another girl in the café, sitting alone at my corner table with a cup of cold, untouched caramel macchiato.

But it doesn’t matter. I pay no attention to such things like loneliness, or cups left full. And I especially don’t care nor need him to know me or notice me, in order to eat him. I sit here just because I simply like observing my pray, before feeding myself with it.

And oh, how yummy he looks!

 

A Musician’s elegy

Flash story time!

Not an elegy, but a tale, a spider-web of memories, a symphony of desires …yet again elegy in a different dress.

Enjoy!

A Musician’s elegy

The winter sun was making its way through the iced, barely snowy branches of the tree. Despite the cold, its sun beams felt warm on his face. Or so he imagined. The air was slightly warmer too; now and then the remaining snow melted from the tree and fell down on his face.

He coughed another spray of blood.

The wound was bleeding freely, for he could no longer press his hands against it. It was coloring the snow around him with red, soaking down the layers of glimmering whiteness.

The hill was silent, the forest too, no animal ran across the white fields, and no bird flew in the blue sky.  There beside him was just his old rifle, with a bloody handle and no ammo.

His head no longer rested on the wet wood, and his body, in an awkward pose, like a frozen scarecrow in army clothing, was lying on the snow, which to him didn’t feel like snow, but like a pillow made of air floating in the sky he observed.

He couldn’t speak from the choking blood in his throat, but then again there was no one to talk to.

And there wasn’t much time.

So he spoke to himself in his mind, writing silently the last words and moments of his life, and his one and only final regret.

He remembered the smell of gun powder and the yelling. He remembered the loud noises, the ambush, the running through the forest, the screams that followed him, screams that died with the next bang, but continued to echo in his mind.

Then there was the sharp pain. From its epicenter it spread across the body, making him fall to the ground unable to move. It happened for seconds, probably less than that. The pain got to his brain just as quick. It remained there, while he was dragging himself on the ground, with round lead bullets raining all around him. Their sizzling sound disappeared once they hit the snow.

Soon to him all the sounds from the battlefield were a long-lost symphony of horror and powder and tears and blood, as his own was making its way out of his body, there under the massive covered in snow branches of the lone tree on the hill.

Now, he probably had minutes to live. Some of his friends didn’t get as much as a second.

But he couldn’t think of them, he only thought of what was lost to him and what was absent as he passed from existence to darkness.

Her presence filled him with hope, with love, with joy and gave meaning to his life. He cherished her more than anything. Every night he would rest himself in her hands, for her to care and cure him of all the wrong and sad in the world. And he could stay like this forever, while she sang, while she played her instruments and gently touched his mind with healing hands.

He would too, hold her in his hands, be an artist, an explorer, an inventor. And he was simply happy. He could ask for no more than that. Only her. Until his dying day.

He tried to remember how she sounded, but the memory felt so distant, he couldn’t bring it in his mind.

There were tears coming to his eyes now. There were tears running down his face mixing with the water the snow had turned to.

Why, oh why wasn’t she here? Why her voice wasn’t singing his final lullaby into his ear?

Was it his fault, he left her? He was forced…or so he wanted to think. But he had to put away all he was and all he loved, for a duty of a bigger cause, for salvation. For pride and victory.

He promised he’ll return home, where everything was going to be the same. His soul would be whole again.

Memories faded away like dim from a pipe.

The silence scared him more than death itself. Soundlessly, he continued to cry.

“Please, please come to me and play me one of your songs to set me for eternal sleep. That’s all I ask of you.” he desperately thought.

He had never felt so alone, so lost. His only guide in life was no longer beside him. If he calls her out loud, would she come?

-         M-m….- he murmured as another gasp for air brought more blood sprays.

His sight was blurry, his hearing weakening. His entire body felt like floating now, and the sky seemed closer, almost one reach away. Although his eyes were opened, for a moment he couldn’t see anything, hear anything nor sense his body.

But there was this feeling, growing inside him, expanding all around him, an impossible one, yet unmistakable, one very familiar to him- the feeling of flying, high in the clouds, where no reason lived and no worries existed.

He called her one more time, a cry for help deep in his subconscious.

Ah!  There she was, finally she came, gently wiping the tears from his cold face, playing a song of wind, and forest and birds and life in its best, where hopes for lost souls were true. His beloved music filled his ears and mind, and sang along with the last breath of the musician who went to war.

In the house of doors

A bit late with this one, sorry for that! Not at my best, but still not half bad :)

So it’s a Sunday/Monday story, first for the new year and without any more talking here’s the story. Enjoy your reading :)

In the house of doors

The air coming through the keyhole was cold. Her green eye blinked when she moved again to look into it. Just for a mere second she saw an empty hallway, with broken lights, most of them dead and shattered, but some still giving signs of life, flickering fast like many nervous fireflies flying around, battling one another. The hallways had many doors. The one right across the room she was in was still unopened. She only hoped it remains that way, as well as the other rooms down the line. She sighted and rested her back against the wall still close to the door. To listen. And be prepared.

She was probably safe for now. There sitting in the dark, no sound, no smell, no nothing. Even her presence was hard to feel. As if she didn’t have any heartbeat. Nor any shape. Existence was hard to describe, hard to picture. She found out that pretty quick. Only her thoughts kept her sane, reminded her she is still alive, and this is no dream. Dreams did not have this many doors with no end.

She blended with the room, became its background just like she’d done before. Everything remained silent. Now she just needed to gain some rest in here, than start moving again. Constant moving was probably her only chance by far.

But alas her eyelids were getting heavy, and just how easy it was for them to let sleep push them down until they are closed. She was tired, so very tired. Running chaotically for… how long was it? Her fingers were in her hair, trying to remember. She’d lost track of time. Then again how could you keep track of something which simply doesn’t exist? She didn’t count the days, hours, minutes, seconds, but the doors she opened fifteen so far. Scattered all around this..house in no particular order – open one you get five floors up, open another one you might just end up at the beginning. It was a game of guess, a game of luck. So far hers worked in a twisted way, keeping her alive, but still just far enough from the last door separating her from escape. She hugged her knees with both arms. It was cold in this room. So very cold. She blocked the feeling, and concentrated on thoughts of past moments, and present horror.

Fear and hope were battling with each other right from the start. When the first door was about to be opened she felt both. Fear grew more every time her hand was on the bronze door handle. Hope took a peek as the door made its little scream while being opened.

Now those two feelings had found solid ground. Fear was being lost forever in this labyrinth of rooms and hallways. Hope was getting the hell out of here as fast as she could. And she was certain an exit in a red light waited for her somewhere in one of those 1002 rooms.  Plus minus one or two, sealed or destroyed.

They never stayed in the same place for very long, the doors that is. They altered themselves, moved. Shifted if must. And yet again there was another factor more disturbing than the unknown origin of the doors. And he was contributing to her nightmare, to her confusion and her fear. Walking after her, searching, tracing the air like an animal out for a hunt. The bastard seemed to find her every time she ran, hoping further. He played games with her at first, almost as if he knew where was she going to be next, but then he got tired, started smashing the doors down instead. The floor got covered in wood. He wanted her. But for reasons, she did not dare to imagine. “What was that?” she turned her head blindly in the dark, eyes fixated on the door. She thought she heard something. Almost like a noise you hear but can’t tell from where it comes. Very quiet.

“Sally…oh Sally…come out, come out wherever you areeeee”. Her thoughts got completely cut off this time, like a wire- the connection with inner mind broke and she was welcomed to reality, heartbeat racing, limbs stiff, unable to move. Was that just now someone’s voice, coming from a distance? Was it his voice calling for her to play, or her imagination was doing tricks? She wanted to stand up, take a look through the keyhole but dared not move. She was almost breathless. He was never so close before. There were no more voices in the hallway. Just imagination…She was tired, needed sleep.

“Sallyyy…. I’m coming pretty girl, and I’ve brought a friend with meee”. His growling voice echoed. A laugh, almost as a bark came after it. Then there was the sound of something sharp scratching the walls. Her skin crawled. How was this possible? After all the rooms she changed, the non-stop moving all the time, and there he was. Somewhere in the long corridor, enjoying every step he takes with a knife in hand. How far was he? She couldn’t tell. Might be days from her, depended on where the room sends him. But there was no sound of opening doors. Just him whistling. Closer and closer and closer… Sally started repeating in her mind “Not 719, not 719, not 719…”

-         Sally, you’re not hiding in 716 are you?  Oops, I mean 719. You are a clever girl. But you were following a certain pattern when entering those rooms weren’t you? – The sound from the knife was terribly close. So was his voice. Low and raspy. Whispering to the walls, the doors, the always flickering lights and to her. He made a pause then continued- At first I was baffled, but then it came to me- why don’t I calculate the numbers? Surprisingly I turned out to be right- you were following some intuitive pattern. Tracked it to here. Changed the number before you came. Changed it to both of the rooms. That way you’d either be in 719 or 716. Let’s see –  A door was being opened as he spoke… Not hers. He picked the wrong one. Sally couldn’t believe her luck! He’d be lost now, and that would give her time to find the way out. She slowly stood up, unlocked the door and pressed the handle. For the first time she could smile.

-         Did I forget to mention I don’t get lost in my own world? These doors, I’ve created them. I get to pick whether I go, or stay. – The door slid open- Hello, Sally. Fancy running into you here – Sally moved back, fearing his piercing eyes and hoping she’d disappear into the darkness with the next step and then would find herself on a new floor, lost again, standing before many cold and dark rooms…but far away from him. She cursed the moment of curiosity, the feeling, the need to discover the unknown. She cursed herself for opening the door which led here.

Sally made one more step back, surrendering to the blackness, closed her eyes and held them like that a bit longer. When she opened them, his were still piercing her.