The Bay of Huxum

The stillness of the water was disturbed, a gentle quake that spawned ripples, which chased away the thin layer of fog nesting on the surface. From beyond the smog a ghostly silhouette emerged, a mass reeking of sea and gunpowder. The ship sliced the waters as it neared the quiet bay; a king amongst pirates and pillagers, “The Greedy Corsair” was preparing to anchor.

From its deck a song erupted. It was a powerful chant that called upon the dead.

Ahoy brothers
Down at the depths
The bottles we sink
We pour for your sake
Drink them me hearties
Yo ho ho
The sea yer grave
But horizon yer birth
Yo ho ho
Raise to sail
Yo ho ho
Raise to drink

The song carried monotone and chilling while the fearsome band of pirates loaded their pistols and gathered their supplies for a journey on the forgotten land of the isle. Ahead lay a jungle of wonders and dangers, and somewhere in its midst an X marked the buried treasure of an extinct world.

“I’ve heard there’s a myth about these parts.” a bearded sailor said, as he was loading his pistol. “Us blackhearted sailors are cursed er’.”

“And cursed we shall walk the shores.”
Captain Alastair Kant stepped on the deck. He was a tall man and his eyes were as damp and gloomy as the sea itself. His skin was tanned and rough and his beard, the color of dried clay.

The crew gave a hearty laugh, but was silenced by the crack of the deck under the heavy frame of their captain.

“S’ppose you tell us why we’re so unwelcomed here, yer old priest.”

The bearded sailor, who was in fact in his foggy past a man of the lord by title mostly, spit aside and looked dead in the eye the cocky boy who was glaring at him with watery eyes and a rotten smile.

“There’s a beast that lives er’, a scaled devil that don’t die by bullets or blade.”

The crew let a hissing laugh.

“Is true! I’ve heard it dozens of times. Is why no one ever comes er’.”

“There was – interrupted the commotion the captain. He paused gaining the attention of all the men on the deck and perhaps of those in the dead depths of the sea- There was a sacred beast once, a dragon named Huxum. The Vietnamese called him Con quỷ đen, the black demon. He was a vicious creature that pillaged the villages and ate the children, so the old settlers decided to elect a warrior to challenge Huxum. An outsider to the people came to their call. He was unspoken in the myth, nameless for he actually committed a sacrilegious act by defying laws spoken by deities. After defeating the dragon its body fell in these waters and the hero was beheaded. The settlers then build a ship from the bones and the scales in hopes to praise it once more and beg for forgiveness. “The sailing demon” they called it.” A plaque  took  them by that nigh,t every man, woman and child and bound their souls to the skeleton ship. So it became quiet here, so quiet you could hear the dragon breathing.

The captain smirked at the silent crew who stared in awe and looked around them, listening to hear the ghostly dragon.
“Story time is over! Move it you good for nothing drunks!

The song was on again, daggers, ropes and pistols all prepared.

But the waters became restless and the ship rocked. It was a steady rocking at first, though nothing came from the water, and as much as the captain stared at the vast openness nothing came. Then a roar erupted. From above, splitting skies and fog, a fearful skeleton ship covered in black scales was descending. “The sailing demon” was flying towards Captain Kant’s crew, and it had Huxun’s burning eyes fixed upon them.  As the crew rushed to load the guns, the ghost ship breathed its fire upon them, from a sharp toothed mouth.

The bay was shaken by a blast that saw the Corsair sink into oblivion, engulfed in ancient flames.
The waters became still again.

Where we belong

Where we belong

“Valentine, what’s death like?”

He gestures at all, his large hand gliding through the liquid heat, heavily floating in the cigarette choked air. I nod, taking the ugly silence of the empty stage.

In the cabaret, that’s death; wood swollen and cracked, curtains moll-eaten and reeking of thousand perfumes, wine stains looking like blood stains, dirty glasses hanging loosely, each sip bringing the taste of ten others, bringing the taste of a forgotten era. Each night a different tune, and now silence.

‘Where are the dancers?’

‘Ain’t working tonight. Ain’t notin’ workin’ tonight.’

His voice lingers, contrabass playing solo in the quietness; I listen holding drum sticks in sweaty palms, looking at them with hazy eyes thinking I don’t remember how to play. I roll them down the counter, watching them fall.

Valentine moves like a shadow beside me; a tall, slim curator in the gallery of death, a crooked spider, with a top hat and mourners eyes sometimes black, sometimes with no distinguishable color. Just deep and wet. He dusts a record, flipping the vinyl with his long fingers. Then the needle touches the black surface, and his song drags a nostalgic voice, a melancholic sax play, sex talk, long lost, love lost.

He puffs out a cloud of smoke. I stretch my hand wanting his poison filling my lungs too.

The song goes on forever. I stopped hearing the lyrics long ago. I’ve aged too. But here sits Valentine, humming, a word rolling out of his parched lips here and there. He knows it all too well.

My body aches. I am tired, and this timeless life bears no mercy for me.

“Valentine, can you take me home?”

He doesn’t talk. He slips out the keys from his pocket and draws skeleton fingers through tick, curly hair. He and I are both tired.

I turn around glaring at the spinning record. As Valentine clicks the door open the needle pops up, giving way to the grim silence.

We walk outside, away from the stillness, and a cold wave of air brushes my face. I shiver. Dusk has fallen.

I don’t remember it ever being day. This night is so full of dark I can’t believe it turning light.

Even outside the bar the world seems dead itself. People visible indoors, the café across full, no one bothering to look beyond the glass walls. Not a single couple occupying the charming light spot beneath the old-fashioned laps aligned up and down the street.

“D’ya fancy another fag?”

Valentine’s voice breaks about, spinning me on heels towards him. How does he seem so out of it all? Calm, casual. I shake my head and pick another poisonous dose, allowing him to light it for me. Then I follow him down the road.

Around the corner is a dim curtain, fog crawling about the street, what is beyond it, invisible. I pause and watch as Valentine’s tall and slim figure dives inside. Not wanting to be left behind I stride faster, catching his shadow inside the whiteness.

I think myself lost. This is not the road home. The more we pace together in the late night, the more I realize it is just us two outside. Alone. Or not existing at all.

“Valentine, where are we going?”

“Home. Twas what you wanted, nay?”

He looks at me then, his eyes black marbles, long, untamable curls swinging before his white face.

I want to run away from that stare.

“I don’t remember where that was.” My voice suddenly trembles and I can see him catch up that tremble in his eyes and blow it to dust, reassuring me of my own mind and my memory.

“Sure you do.”

Then I speak again.

“I remember different street names, those that are no longer here. I remember how the buildings were built and when this street was paved. I remember when there was a Yantsy Brothers there on the corner, and I remember when Clermont’s was on fire and the women burned to death. I can see them, all of them, inside their world, but can they see me, Valentine? Can they see us?”

He shakes his head, his gaze fixed on me.

How could’ve I forget? Valentine was eternal that much I’ve always known, but…

“Valentine, did you know you were dead? Because I think I am.” The words slip out of my mouth.

Valentine slowly nods.

“Twas a good run wiv ya, but we both got to go, you mostly, I to follow. It’s over there, down the road, you know, where the streets cross each other.”

He offers me his hand and I take it, his cold fingers tangling firmly into mine, and he leads me onwards, downwards, to the end. Now I remember.

What is there to question anymore?

There goes Valentine, a man I’ve known all my time around these parts, where my transparent self, operated against the rules of the mortal world, against the rules of the outer one. I wouldn’t want anyone else to take me to my final rest, but Valentine.

Now the fog clears, I can clearly see the illusionary plaza. The buildings around it smell of ashes, and seem worn out, somehow gloom in color. A white fire burns in the middle, erupting from the crooked pavement.

Valentine tells me to walk cautiously. There are eyes upon us, older than Valentine. They hover, invisible, but there, making sure I walk the flames, and Valentine follows.

I stop.

“Valentine, I’m scared.”

My sudden weakness and my voice aloud brings four hooded figures.

“You must go now. There is nothing to fear ahead. I’ll be closely behind.”

I look at my patron, then at the dark spectators. Have I any right to damn us both?

The flames soak through my skin and as they fill me, the watchers draw nearer. I try to shout them off, but I have no voice.

I begin to fade.  Within the brightness I can’t see…did Valentine follow me?

The Ocean at The End of the Lane: A short impression

“…Old Mrs. Hempstock sniffed. “Now, don’t do anything stupid. Approach it with care. Bind it, close its ways, send it back to sleep.”

“I know,” said Lettie. “I know all that. Honestly. We’ll be fine.”

That’s what she said. But we weren’t.  “

***

After closing the last page of Neil Gaiman’s “The OcThe-Ocean-At-The-End-Of-The-Lane-by-Neil-Gaiman_thumbean at The End of the Lane” I am a bundle of feelings. It’s a novel to read in one breath, in one sit.

Gaiman’s narrative is so very sincere, so pure and believable – he draws horror from the eyes and the mouth of a seven-year old boy with such vivid words it’s hard for the reader to stand aside and not be there in the dark, there, drowning in the vastness of magic and real life scary things. Coming across death and going back from it, crying over lost possessions, crying over missing the touch of the small kitten’s fur against your skin, making friends, then losing friends, understanding adults, being afraid of them, being amazed by them – it’s a pack full of feelings, doubts, fears, joys, sacrifices. Really horrible lurking shadows from somewhere beyond. Bright and powerful saviours of ancient places and enormous in time – having known the creating of Moon and the Ocean that stretches afar. One lane, one farmhouse, one boy running away into a world of his own. Bits of young Gaiman and his childhood playground. His books, his comfort in the written words.

It is a simply magnificent book that might make you cry. A wonderful adventure to where its dark. All through the eyes of a young boy. But what I see might not be what you’ll see. Take a look yourself. Walk the lane, visit the Ocean at the end of it. You might find something.

“Different people remember things differently, and you’ll not get any two people to remember anything the same, whether they were there or not…”

Your experience is your own. The book smells good and it feels good, the weight of it none, the touch of it gentle as that of the surface of still water.

Balcony version

*italic text contains excerpts from the novel. All credit for that goes to Neil Gaiman.

Saving Christmas

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays to all! Wish you best of luck and lots of love! xxx

Enjoy a little adventure in:

Saving Christmas

Mr. Rogers waited before the front door, tapping his hip nervously.

“Danny, please, come downstairs.”

Mrs. Rogers was sitting in the living room, staring at the brand new sledge resting beside the rich Christmas tree. She had tied it with a big red ribbon. Danny would like it, she had thought.

The boy came down the stairs still wearing his gloves, scarf and hat.

“I’ve been watching all morning, but it’s still not falling.”

Mr. Rogers felt the disappointment in his son’s voice.

“It’s early Danny. Let’s not lose hope. It’ll be snowing before dinner, I’m sure.” Mr. Rogers smiled.

“No it won’t! It’s not going to be the same!  I don’t want this Christmas!”

“Danny…”

He ran back into his room and slammed the door.

Mrs. Rogers stood next to her husband.

“He’s devastated”

Mrs. Rogers hugged his wife and they both turned to face the crisis of a Christmas day with no snow.

 

Meanwhile…

Tim ran as fast as he could and Marquise followed right behind him. They dodged large suitcases and plump women with five shopping bags in each hand. Marquise barked at them, signaling to gain way. A few cars hit breaks as the party of two flew before them.

“Come on boy!”

Tim checked his pocket watch. It was past noon already! He was very late!

There was a huge crowd at the railway station formed by the newly arriving and their families and friends welcoming them. The trains, powerful and proud, were steaming restless, the thick smoke swirling into the air. A whistle sounded and one black painted giant of this progressing industry took towards its destination.

Tim and Marquise, not wasting any time, charged inside the station. Tim reached his pocket for another glimpse of the watch, but distracted, ran into a jubilant crowd of boys and girls with red  hats and small instruments singing Christmas carols. Marquise barked even louder as Tim struggled to get up from the floor. The ancient clock hung high above Tim’s head loudly announced one o’clock. Panicked, Tim jumped on his feet and shouted an apology to the carolers as he took on his rush again.

”We need to get there faster  Marquise!”

The dog barked and took a left turn. With an excited cheer Tim followed, as he knew to always trust his partner’s nose.

Marquise slowed his pace, sniffing the ground. He led Tim across to a parked motorbike outside the station.

“No, I can’t take this boy, it’s not mine. I’ll get myself into more trouble.”

Marquise barked, showing his teeth.

“You’re right though. I am already neck deep into trouble…And I’m late.”

Tim sat on the leather seat, worked his magic and the engine started. Marquise hopped in the basket, pleased.

Honking, they got away and drove down the street, an angry commissary yelling at them, a young man pulling his hair and watching his vehicle disappear.

The market square downtown to which they were headed, was tidily arranged with small shops selling all the holiday goods. From hand-made toys to freshly baked sweets and punch; to elk trees and warm clothes and many wonderful gifts- the spirit was alive with the people, on their straws on sidewalks with decorated street lamps or in their rush to buy presents in the few remaining hours. But there was something missing, too obvious to be ignored, and too horrible to speak of – there was no snow.

Tim was the only person who could fix that and save Christmas.

He reached the market. He left the motorbike and walked to the center of the square.

A lone ladder hung loosely in the air. Tim stood under it, watching the sky above, searching for the end of this stairway.

“Come. Up!”

Marquise jumped in Tim’s arms and he hugged the puppy inside his jacket. Then he made sure no one is watching him, and he took the first step of the rope ladder.

As soon as his whole body was standing tree feet above the ground, Tim was covered with the invisibility filter that hid the ladder too and the special weather control booth high in the clouds in which he worked.

He climbed fast, gripping tight the slippery steps. Suddenly wind came by, strong and persistent swinging Tim and Marquise on their unstable climb.

From above a large zeppelin appeared, its humongous body swimming only inches away from Tim.

“Woho! Be careful mate, there are people trying to climb here!”

Merry Christmas xo-xo-xo!” was written on the side of the zeppelin. Tim smiled and climbed faster. The metal thump of him hitting his head on the hatch of the door told him he was there. Finally there.

He pushed it open and went inside. He sat on his chair and clicked the three switches that worked the light of the sky. He lowered the brightness and added clouds. He turned the wind to minimum strength and adjusted the cold to “balanced”. Marquise wiggled his tail next to him.

‘Ready boy?

“Woof!

Tim hit the big red button with a snowflake on it and listened to the booming voice of the snow machine waking up.

Then he waited.

***

Danny was sitting before his window, drawing a snowflake which disappeared before he had even finished it. His winter clothes were put in the closet and his new sledge was still under the tree, unused and unwanted.  His finger traced the lines of the snowflake, the glass against his skin cold. Something outside moved. Danny pushed back. His eyes widened.

He ran downstairs.

“Mom, Dad, look!”

Mr. and Mrs. Rogers were already on their feet. Danny was pointing outside.

And there, just on time for Christmas Eve, the most beautiful snow, glimmering in the colorful lights of the holiday decoration,  was silently falling, covering every house and every street.

Christmas was saved.

 

Last year’s Christmas story:  Merry & Snow

Best reads of 2012

A big thank you to John Wiswell for setting up a list to compile the #bestreads2012

I’ve been on and off books for the whole year; many I’m still reading, others I have left for the moment.

But a few I finished and loved. There are 5 books as you will see; amongst them is a graphic novel which is still on going but thus far it’s been brilliant; there is fiction of course and a sort of non-fiction….

 

Fiction

___________________

American Gods

I knew about  American Gods through other Neil Gaiman books, but only this year did I get the chance to purchase it.  Neil Gaiman has been my favorite author for some time now, but at first, back in 2009, I only knew him from reading Fragile Things. I had already fallen in love with his storytelling, and American Gods with the stamp “Bestseller” on dark  cover seemed to be the perfect next book to read. Grabbed it from the shelf in the bookstore and was so pleased for doing that  It is the perfect book.

American Gods is a magnificent book, and I am not exaggerating by saying that. It’s a brilliant mixture of modern days and old days, of old gods and new gods and their fight to fit into this world. I found myself having this amazing road-trip across states, along with the strong main character Shadow in search for some revelation of life and explanation of death. It is though a scary travel, exploring the bases of the American spirit and how the very few remaining gods live on the fragile belief of emigrants and the descendants of the old settlers. And it is quite a hallucinogenic exploration.

The plot and the narrative style are top-notch. I couldn’t say less for Gaiman anyway. Having read his masterpiece “Sandman” I can only say American Gods follows very closely, if not exceeds the comic book.

It’s a novel I will re-read and enjoy again. It’s dark and fast paced, it’s rich of characters that are complex and insane in their own charming ways.

I say, if you haven’t read it, make sure you do so!

 

Deathbird stories

I was introduced to this collection of 19 short stories through Neil Gaiman. The storytelling is definitely dark and very powerful, with a culmination that make the heart tremble with both excitement and fear. It was my first time reading him, and I did love the stories, I found them very inspirational and was pleased to have spotted his name now rather than later. There is a small difficulty in understanding Ellison just from this book; I advice, if you haven’t read other works by him do so. But on the other hand you may be fine with this as your first introduction to the author.

This particular collection deals with a certain theme, which regards gods. Ellison searches for them in places where belief is shaken or missing, where people are desperate and forsaken. He questions the need of gods again, once they have been forgotten and not needed, and draws them in shapes and forms, corresponding with the characters in both terrifying and comforting ways. This collection is where Gaiman had his influence on writing American Gods- Ellison as well explores the possibility of gods existing in this modern world through machines.

The book is a mixture of horror, fantasy and to an extent science fiction. It has great stories in it, dark and sinister, powerful and compelling writing with Gods on the front. What more can one want?

 

The Phantom of the Opera 

First and foremost I am a fan of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s  musical. But it didn’t seem fair to neglect the book from which the obsession originates. So glad I read it.

I think that because of the massive popularity and the movie, the book has suffered a little. It’s a brilliant read, out doing the expectation one like me has, having seen an on-screen production of the story. But it does exceed the expectations and it becomes more than just a love story situated in France.

It’s a gothic story, quite dark at places, describing the process of falling in love, becoming obsessed, and then descending into madness with a threatening fatal outcome. The atmosphere in the novel is heavy with mystery, with a melodic chill and enchanting danger that pulls the reader right into the opera affairs that revolve around the Opera ghost, a mysterious shadow with a “death’s head” lurking in his box, speaking from inside the walls and giving private singing lessons to young, but promising diva Christine Daae.

His love for her is impossible; not only because of his deformity and long-lasting solitude from the world underneath the opera house, but because of Christine’s love for another man. The story told brilliantly and very smart by Gaston Laroux escalates in high notes of thundering rage and demonic cries evoked by the broken heart of the Phantom- a soul to pity, but to fear as well. From a witty and terrifying ghost, to a real man trapped by the curse of his deformity, but gifted with the voice of an angel and the brilliance of a genius of architecting and composing, the Phantom is a powerful character, which at the end of the novel finds a spot in my heart and a bigger influence than his persona delivered through stage and screen.

The Phantom of the Opera is a magnificent book, feeling less like fiction and more like a real event written through gathered information of details and memoirs of people who had been misfortune to meet the ghost of the opera.

It is a read to remember. Especially when read at night.

 

The graphic novel

_______________________

American Vampire

              

Although it is still on going, American Vampire has been one of the most entertaining and exciting readings I’ve done this year/summer. It’s a graphic novel written by Scott Snyder. I’m setting up a few covers from different volumes.

The first volume opens in 1925 L.A. with a young wannabe big time actress Pearl Jones, who soon enough discovers the secrets of success, which leaves her dying in the desert. Being bitten by a vampire she struggles to survive, and with a transformation possibly coming, charismatic and cheeky main male character and strong vampire Skinner Sweet appears, dropping some blood to save Pearl and invite her to join his party of extraordinary new vampire species- faster, better, stronger and full speed in the sunlight. From there the story develops with more details about Skinner and his dark past, which part is written by Stephen King; it gets on about Pearl and her struggle to live like a human, but still be a badass vampire lady protecting her own.

The graphic novel has great artwork, very macabre and I particularly like the vision of the vampires – not the typical you’ll find in other modern day vampire tales. Proper vampires I must say!

The storytelling is done with finesse and is accompanied by blood spilling, throat ripping, vampire combat scenes!

Overall it’s an awesome first volume, followed by a great horror story extending into the other volumes. It’s a beautiful blend of mystery, western, fantasy which grows more and more with great characters and a strong narrative.

 

Science fiction

_______________________

The Sound of His Horn

The Sound of his Horn is a novel set in a dystopian future controlled by Nazis.

It sounds a bit overdone, and brings thoughts of futuristic sci-fi scenes of Nazi ruled cities, but… it’s not anything like that. Although there is a sense of time travel, the story does not venture into the science fiction world; there is not much mentions of anything sci-fi actually, other than the field of rays which send the main character, a British naval lieutenant Alan Querdillon into an alternate universe in which the Nazis have won WW2. The story does not focus on how the world is ran, or what has really happened to lead to this future. It centers on how Alan understands the place he has gone to. And it’s not that much of a story about Nazis. It’s a fable in a sense, in which humans are hunted and genes are manipulated.

Some find the storytelling a bit slow-paced and not that big of a deal, but I liked the book, having never really read anything as such, and was thrilled until the end, so it is really up to the individual to find his pace and his place in the story.

Down by the river

Down by the river

Schlange stehen! Bewegen!”*

The group of chained people moved forward. They were dressed in civilian clothes, although the days spent running and hiding had made them look more like torn pieces of dirty material stitched together only to resemble clothes. They were about to be executed in those dreadful outfits, stripped from their true identity.

Some of them whimpered, howled, screeched as their feet sunk into the mud, as the barrels of the guns touched their necks, pushing them forward, faster. But the majority of them remained silent, their eyes dim, staring into the blazing horizon.

They had nothing to speak of anymore. They were betrayed by those whom they trusted the most. It was all over. Their era was to be no longer.

The soldiers took them to a crumbling farmhouse, down by the river and ordered them to stand before the wall, their backs up against the solid structure. They faced five machine guns, surely fed by wanting release bullets.

A woman with once golden hair turned to the man beside her. His black hair was damped and his eyes were hollow but still she could recognize the King of the fairies, her beloved husband.  The forest spirit was gone; the sparkle of power was gone, only a shell of a desperate man trapped in human form remained. The woman, who was the Queen of the fairies traced each face as much as it was possible, trying to remember those forsaken, forgotten and sent to death – the Minotaur was there, his face trapped in the transfiguration of a beast to a man. His horns were cut in the middle, the blood dried on the edges; the Werewolf trembled and growled, the cuts on his face burning with pain, his human eyes glowing yellow; the Dragon was no longer resisting the restraints on his hands – he no longer desired to rip his own heart out; the Nymphs were pale and one by one were about to be consumed by madness, so they begged the fire to start sooner and vanish them from the realm of people forever; the Unicorn had lost its shine- a young boy he stood with eyes glaring to the ground without truly seeing. A red circle like a burned wound stained his forehead where his horn had once been. The queen averted her eyes. She could see no more of this torture.

There was a click coming from each gun; the sound was short but made the condemned push their backs further into the wall.

Before they could shout, or plead or run the soldiers fired for what seemed like hours, the thundering cries of fast flying, skin piercing bullets prolonging into the day, and extending more into the night. When it ended the silence was so fragile, the world thought it shouldn’t exist.

The only ones to blame for this massacre were the people, who had forgotten them over countless bloodshed wars. In fear they turned to selfish Gods who wanted only blood sacrifices in their name. Humanity asked them for help, for victory neglecting that they have won their victory many eons ago and the help had always been there with them, carried within those who protected their homeland, their sanity, who kept them alive.

And so, their protectors, the offspring of their imagination were left aside to rot and only watch as their world decays. All the creatures of myths and legends and folklore fell dead that day. Imagination fell that day.

 

*“In line! Move!”

The winds of change

Decided to post one story everyday till the end of the week. So here’s the first piece.

Something wicked is on the way!

The winds of change

Kathy rode her old blue bike on the way home from aunt Gemma’s. It was a hot, hot year and a hot, hot month, maybe the hottest Kathy ever remembered and she thought the home-made jams aunt Gemma had given her might boil in their jars with red caps.

The pedals were a bit rusty from the last time Kathy had used her bike, but since Jonah, her brother, was away with the car the fastest way to get from one point to another around here was this.

And Kathy didn’t mind the exercise or the dusty roads, the whispering crops and the moos! of the cows. Her soul felt light and her mind was clear.

Soon she would be home for some cold lemonade, a good book, probably Jane Eyre since she always wanted to read it, and the rest of the day spent outside on the porch, sitting on the swing with comfy apple green cushions.

Then suddenly her plans were interrupted by a rapid change in the weather.

As Kathy neared her home and could see the window of her room, a strong blow of wind chased after her, whistling and swooshing and could that be laughter? The trees shook and quivered in a compilation of wild bows and their still green leafs were torn with violence and scattered in sky and earth. Kathy suddenly felt small and vulnerable in the presence of this wind. She rode faster, caring less about the clinking pots of jam in her bag hung on the right handlebar.

She reached the house safely, left the bike outside and before going in took a look behind her back. There was something coming fast and furious. Kathy rushed inside.

“Mama? Mama?” Kathy called out

Her mother came down the stairs.

“What’s the matter?”

“Mama, did you hear the wind?”

“Yes. What about it?” Kathy’s mother raised an eyebrow.

“It’s…different somehow. I know it may sound weird, but I thought I heard it laugh!”

“Don’t be ridiculous child! That’s only your imagination. It’s just a wind like any other.”

“But” insisted Kathy “ it doesn’t feel right! This one is somehow old” Kathy’s expression changed. Her gaze floated, starring somewhere beyond her house, somewhere beyond herself. She continued.

“It has traveled long and gathered up other winds on its way. They all are coming here for some reason. They will want something from here.”  Kathy looked back at her mother “I’m afraid mama, I’m afraid something bad is about to happen.” Kathy hugged herself and gazed at the floor.

Her mother smiled and caressed her daughter’s cheek.

“Kathy, listen to me. There is nothing to worry about. It’s just a normal wind, which though might bring some rain and I’ve just washed the sunflower rug. Why don’t you go bring it in? In the meantime I’ll put those jams where they belong and have we can some lemonade after. Okay?”

Kathy shrugged and nodded. Her mother didn’t believe her. But then again Kathy wasn’t making much sense. She couldn’t properly express this growing fear in her. It was difficult to describe since she had never felt anything like it. Something was indeed about to begin.

She went outside, cautiously looking around, prepared for the worst but found only her mama’s rug gone and the old wind not alone but accompanied by now many others, all here, all whispering and roaring, banging on the windows, slamming the doors. Kathy listened to their voices, from far and near, low or loud, but all saying one. Her eyes widened and her heart pounded in her chest.

She shivered and went back inside, locking the door, running up the wooden stairs to her room, her private sanctuary.

She sat on the bed and rocked back and forth thinking that winds shouldn’t gather up like this. She bit her lower lip and felt like crying for not knowing how to handle what was happening, how to deal with it.

“Winds are not supposed to speak such horrid stories!” she whimpered. Nor were they supposed ask her…ask her….

Kathy gulped, jumped off the bed and closed the curtains, ignoring the winds and their foul language. She hoped they will just go away after not receiving what they want. Kathy was sure not going there again!

Kathy stood there, confused, not sure what to do. The winds were circling her house, singing songs which chilled her bones.

She shook her head.

Then she took “Jane Eyre” from the book shelf and sat down on her bed.

She had always wanted to read it anyways.

Freedom

I’m a bit off track this week, apologies for the out of tune and style flash but… next week a better one, promise!

Freedom 

A sparrow flew through space that is known and then it flew through space that is unknown and unexplored.  The ease with which he flapped his wings and glided between gas clouds and strangely shaped nebulas amused the sparrow. He was used to the sky back home, and after years of surviving the blue vastness he had come to the conclusion that there were limits; boundaries even invisible were set and one always knew where he would get if he flies south or north or east or west.

But this here… This was endless. Infinite.

The sparrow thought he could fly forever and still be just at the beginning of it.

He was all alone but that didn’t bother him. It made him feel safe. For the first time in his life he didn’t feel tiny and unimportant, he wasn’t scared that some rock thrown by a small human would snap his neck or a clawed predator would tear his chest open.

Being surrounded by billions and billions of glistening bodies and variety of colors made the sparrow happy, and he cheered with a skuak! which the darkness of  space took and shattered in particles of sound that died in the depths and looped back around moving inside holes and worlds until it was lost.

The sparrow was in peace.

* * *

“Mom! Mom! The birdie isn’t moving. Why isn’t it moving?”

“It’s dead idiot. The car ran over him”

Issy hissed at her little brother and poked the dead sparrow with her stick.

“Stop that Issy. Let’s get back in the house. Don’t cry Jamie, it’s all right. The little birdie is in a better place”

“Heaven?” asked Jamie in between sobs

“Maybe. A Heaven for birds”

Four dead birds

Friday Flash knock knock! This week:

Four dead birds

It was raining when he got there. The cab left him on a nameless boulevard and dashed down the street in an explosion of colors. He raised the collar of his coat not really to protect himself from the rain but from the anonymity and insecurity this city greeted him with. It was too ordinary with its tall glass buildings, shiny showcases, fast food chains, busy streets with ill manners and people running, always running to find shelter from some storm. A few people crashed into him. He breathed in their perfumes mixed with sweat. This was by far the worst smell he had come across.

He frowned. Nothing about this place impressed him. It was boring and too normal in an oddly weird way. Seemed like a waste of time to walk its rain soaked sidewalks. His search wasn’t probably going to end here. How could it? This was a lonely, dirty, smoked, concrete fake of a life. He felt disappointed. It even disgusted him.

His mind trailed off in past events as he continued to make his way between the heavy raindrops.

The silver calm waters of  the beautiful river Kawthar and light wood docks of  the city of tomorrow Tumiba with its glimmering V- shaped scrapers in the distance were days behind him; the misty streets of Mugla crawling in pale blue and ghostly green colors beside low buildings made of long and rusty iron scraps had waved their goodbyes to him when the mechanized horses of the masked police screamed their disturbing out of tune cries and the stitched from cars and trucks planes above roared their engines flying in circles, stealing the air in an ugly danse macabre; the rich golden sands of Southern Ikara had left him disorientated for hours until he reached the city of Ikarades with its towers of clay and talked a nomad with his bright red balloon to take him away to the next Illusory city.

His feet had traveled through dead cities and future cities, ancient cities and newly born ones. Five years had passed since he was banished from his home, his kingdom and was left to stray like an abandoned dog without directions or signs.

Frustration started to grow in him tightening his chest. It appeared that this was just the midst of his traveling and the persuaded culmination was far from reach. He clenched his teeth.  If this was a test to prove him worthy he wasn’t planning on failing it.

He turned to wave for a new cab when a slight change in the atmosphere alerted him that something was happening. He felt his stomach turn and thought he was going to vomit. Icy cold fingers pressed hard against his temples. Conversations, music, car honks got louder and louder before colliding with the fluorescent colors of the street lights that beamed brighter through the eye of the falling mercilessly rain. The smell of dust, tacos and old cologne slapped him through the face. He had to put some effort to keep himself from not falling.

This was the most violent Passing he had experienced.

He noticed the rain had stopped.

The street ahead was resting in the warm kiss of a setting sun. When he looked back to where he was just standing it was still pouring like mad and the sky was becoming a darker gray.

He raised an eyebrow.

“Not so ordinary after all“

He proceeded.

As he walked the buildings started to alter, some silently sinking into their foundations others shrinking inwards like they were sucked by invisible black holes but as they fell or disappeared, their glass eyes never stopped following his steps.

From some crumbling shop a flayer fell and landed before his boots. He picked it up.

In red letters was written FREE OF CHARGE ONLY TODAY – YOUR OWN LIFE! AMAZING CHANCE! THE OFFER IS ONLY AVEILABLE FOR THE NEXT FIVE MINUTES! TAKE IT NOW AND CONTINUE EXISTING! CALL 444-0444 NOW!

He crushed the paper in his fist. Someone was mocking his presence here. He quickened his pace.

The last building fell and the sea appeared on his right. The beach extended to the sidewalk in the blink of an eye and touched his boots. Then the water came, an olive green, almost black at the depths, emerald and onyx together swimming as far as the eye can see. The sun had the color of absinthe, a lime dipped in a cocktail of sea plants.

He knew this landscape.

-  You finally found me.

He turned around to meet eyes the same deep green as his.

-  Mother…

-  Adrian. You look well. Come sit with me. – She padded the bench she was sitting on.

He took a step closer and sat following the commanding note in her voice.

-   You hid well mother. I’ve been searching for you for five years. – They stared the sea.

-   I know. My informants told me you were searching. I can’t lie that I am happy to see you Adrian. I wanted to talk to you.

-    Spare me. I haven’t come for hugs and love. I want what is mine by right. I want the control over the kingdom and the Illusory cities.

-   You lost your right when you killed your brothers. Three dead birds in the cage. – She looked at him, her eyes showing no emotion – I prefer another son dead over a mad and selfish ruler.

Adrian stood up.

-   You wouldn’t dare kill me. I’m the only heir.

She tilted her head to one side.

-  Boy, come here. – Her voice rang and a child not more than seven came from behind Adrian. His eyes burned green. He stood beside the woman.

-  No… – whispered Adrian.

His mother took out a silver knife.

-  The mother does what is best for her most loved child. Even if the price is blood.

Something glistened in the dying day.

Adrian gasped at the sharp pain shattering his world, filling it with red.

Mystery man

Friday Flash! 

Come meet the

Mystery man

There used to be this man, this tramp who came around my neighborhood when I was a kid.

He used to just sit on the green bench we had placed next to the small garden silent and seemingly waiting. We, the children at that moment used to lose every interest in our previous games and just sat near him, staring into that mysterious man and his hazel eyes. Some of our parents seemed to know him but stood aside, just eying this intruder into their peaceful ordinary lives.

Unlike them we felt this stranger had answers so we asked him millions of questions, from the most ridiculous to the ordinary ones like what his name is and where he lives.

He never gave a straight reply; instead he started singing, then interrupting his own self he cheerfully proclaimed some quote be it from a writer, philosopher or musician. And somehow to us that seemed so reasonable and genuine that we didn’t bring our questions up again.

Soon before the day was over this figure with no name stood up and walked away following some path, a one the tramp can only know.

We resumed our games soon forgetting about him and during the night his image, the fact that he’d been there during the day slowly faded away from our minds as if he never had existed. A man without a story, without directions or a home, we thought can someone like this be even real?

But the morning came and so did he very real indeed, a tall slim man with various clothing, layer upon layer of colors, a dirty long hair tied in a tail and a dark brown beard.

Now the memory of him gets a bit more vivid – I remember him to be well spoken, even bright in his own peculiar way.

I may have tried to study his young face but don’t recall learning anything from it. Calm as always, not bothered by his looks, cheerfully answering our questions without actually giving a desired answer. Just like the days before.

Often we the children that were drawn by this persona wondered about the real man behind the mask of mystery. In our eyes he was never just a tramp, only a vagrant of the streets. No. We were able to picture him as an adventurer from some distant lands, or a time traveler lost in an unknown world far from his home. He could have been from the future, searching for someone to trust his knowledge to. If we followed him on his departure, every time just around the corner he would disappear without a trace, melt into some shadows, or be gone with the wind. I was convinced there is more about this man than what meets the eye.

The insecurity, uncertainty about him never frightened me or the others. Unlike every other grown up we knew this one seemed to hide something, maybe the biggest secret of them all? So we thought.

Now at some point this story about him was brought to us by some unfamiliar face. He didn’t know his name but only a part from the story of his life.

See the mystery man once was a boy with ambitions, which grew up to be a man highly educated, passionate about music, arts and literature, and with promises for a great future. He met a girl, falling deeply in love with her, offering not only his heart but his soul as well. Needles to say when he put everything aside for this chimera of beauty he did himself wrong. After some years she left him letting insanity take her place. Days and nights, weeks and months he couldn’t overcome his love and instead of that welcomed confusion, paranoia and total loss of identity in his life.

Then he lost everything else – house, job, money thus becoming our mysterious man.

The story seems fitting somehow doesn’t it – tragic with a plot to inspire songs or movies.

I remember not finding this “love” story satisfying enough and being courageous to go and ask my father if it was true. I was the first one to find out the truth.  Not my truth, but the one that life had chosen for this man.

He was once smart yes, but never that bright. He was a kid with mental issues which resulted in him being a homeless person. His mother had died several years ago living him all alone to follow only the decisions of his troubled mind. Still he remained without a name, but the story was confirmed by other well-respected adults.

Not a special person then. Not a mystery at all.

The next few days he didn’t come. In fact he hasn’t come around here for years now. I usually look out for him in the summer. That was the season in which he decided to linger here before leaving forever to a destination unknown. He never answered our questions, never told us his name. Or his true story. I don’t believe he actually though it mattered much.

And I don’t believe this story of painful love or this ugly truth about a man, whose mind forced him into living on the benches or frozen construction sides, collecting food from trash bins.

I decide to give my trust to my memories telling the story of a man who came to meet us, got to know us not revealing himself to anyone, and left before the summer was over taking away our answers. I believe he knew them all. He’ll always be a time traveler, an explorer, a vagrant from some other planet but never just a man with his mind astray from sense. Who knows, one day he may come back still this young and tell us the biggest secret, tell us of the future or what other worlds look like.  I hope I will be still here to meet him.