GP by GP – My Name is Alice Johnston, This is a Day in My Life

GP by GP – My Name is Alice Johnston, This is a Day in My Life

From:                 Alice Johnston (aljo@erbf.gov)

Subject:            The last 24 Hours?

Date:                  June 5th, 2003

 

I am writing this mail on behalf of the Midwife staff and myself. We quit!

Just so there is no misunderstanding during my explanation to this obscure and completely unethical process you are running for the women and… other… in labor here. I am aware that we are new in this complex and ignoring the complete lack of even the most basic tools for childbirth, we are unable to accept the procedures performed on the women during labor.

There tend to be asked less questions when the pay of employment is as high as you have promised us, but after three weeks we are fearing for our own health and the general wellbeing of anyone in this complex.

The last Twenty-four hours have been a strain on my nerves. I have talked with the three other midwifes I could find and we are leaving on the bus towards Vorkuta as soon as possible. There is no reason to try to contact us. We have agreed to honor the silence agreement in our contracts, but under these circumstances. If any of us is contacted by your organization or suddenly missing for no apparent reason, we will contact a coordinated variety of news agencies and authorities.

The reasons for my personal resignation starts yesterday morning at 6am where subject #6334 Anosova, Pasha had alarmed the staff of sudden abdominal pains. Being called to the operating room for what was supposed to be a birth, turned into another nightmarish experience that were getting to even your senior staff’s nerves. To keep a comical distance to the event, so not to vomit on the paper, I placed the luminescent puzzle in lead container SWU-0225 and sent it off to the basement.

I do not understand your staffs native language, but I can hear fear and concern in any voice and they were terrified. We have not had a normal birth in the three weeks I have worked here and maybe longer if I am guessing right from their rapid gossip as we left the screaming patient to the doctors.

Ushering us from the room in that manner has also been a reason for my decision and yet not the drop in itself although such rude behavior anywhere else would have made me complain to my superiors and the union.

Second issue at 9:42am I was called to block seven to retrieve a newborn child that “accidentally” fell out of a woman who hung herself in her gown. Everyone seemed surprised that she could manage to even stand in her condition and it was getting crazier since she had managed to raise her bed to get a point high enough to hang from. It took half an hour for a army of screwdrivers to arrive. Never seen so many beds being screwed to the ground and/or wall, the noise was unbearable.

Child was placed in incubation and although the level of tumors on his deformed body was enough to make me want to throw him at the wall, he survived for six hours before his internal organs had melted or rotted away. I have not seen the autopsy in the light of me wanting to eat again tomorrow.

I have seen many reasons for experimenting with augmented births to enhance our future generations, but this is creeping me out, even the daily gun shots from the various blocks are making me paranoid after three weeks. They never allow us to see who or what is being shot and I have run around to my fellow midwifes to be sure that they are not the ones being exterminated for resisting assistance.

We were called out of our delayed lunch at 1:55pm as someone had run rampant with a sharp object and several people had been found stabbed in the mouth or throat several times. Everyone was patted down and we must assume at even this point, the perpetrator is still at large. It has only been doctors and subjects that has been stabbed at the point of this letter, but we were escorted around on packs the rest of the day yesterday and this morning too.

There has been no pattern in the assaults and we fear for our lives in that manner. Even if we have a guard, we can still be stabbed before he stops the psychotic killer haunting the place.

Besides that little, microscopically unimportant bit of mundane news we still had 4:03pm. I will not describe the tension it made. I still shiver at this point. How… how could you? I never knew the extend of this complex, but what you had hidden in block 8 is too much. I know we are not allowed out there, but what Belinda described before she passed out for the second time was for my imagination, too livid.

How can you have a nine-hundred pound woman sit in her own waste, experiencing what I must imagine, mental and physical torment as she goes through a continues cycle of organ birth as her body fails to keep the amniotic sac intact during her “assembly line labor?”

I have not even seen the woman you bastards and I can’t control my tears, or the cold sweat anymore. We are terrified beyond belief here and you have not even been to see us even once since our arrival. I am unable to sleep and I have been awake for over 50 hours at this point. My mind is slowly melting like the hundreds of children your failed experiments are causing.

 

 

It has been three hours now… I think I am able to write the last couple of notes for you here. I can’t breathe properly and I am feeling dizzy, although it might be the bus ride back. I apologize for the spelling if you can’t read it, but he drives like his blood alcohol level is under five point two for the first time in a decade and he forgot his bottle.

Marybeth confirms that 6.31pm was flush hour. The trolleys were taken out again we helped merging block two, three, five and seven so block seven were empty and ready for cleaning. I did not keep track of the time beyond that and has to rely on my colleagues.

Note for future improvements in your death fortress, even though your cleaver little black curtain is placed to ward off prying eyes, it does in no way mute the screaming people your having gagged and dragged. We know that these women are sedated and probably didn’t volunteered to get their wombs pumped full of the Greek alphabet, so you might have to reconsider you business strategy if you want to keep toying with life.

But in your mind you might have to crack a few neutrons to make an omelet, so I won’t degrade your noble work, by questioning the ethics of genocide by prolonged and systematic torture.

Back to our little funhouse. Marybeth informs me that it was 8.11pm we came to find the lone wanderer. We have been informed by the staff in what they might call English, that they had a young woman at the place that was impossible to restrain. They said she was a contortionist and it was one of the reasons they kept finding her roaming the dark corridors each evening. We brought her back to her room and locked her door. She was giving off a small humming or dry laughs all the way back and kept staring at us with those dead eyes from the small window in the door, until we were out of the corridor. Marybeth and Julie found her an hour later in the basement, poking around the supply room. Marybeth says that Julie took her back to the room. None of us four, has not seen Julie since. We have left a note for her in her locker, but even we doubt that it will be English eyes reading that letter if it is ever read again.

At 11:37pm I was called from the staff room, according to Belinda. A woman had either been cut open or cut her own stomach up to get rid of the overgrown child inside her contorted stomach. We had been discussing for days how many children she would deliver, but we could not confirm anything with ultrasound equipment since the cord from the machine in the hospital in Vorkuta, couldn’t reach that far. But with a facility in a price range like this, you might have considered a 214 mile extension cord, but who am I to judge.

The humongous child is an abomination if you would even call it that. The charts says that it was a case of prenatal elephantiasis, yet it was the first child that had not either come out “some assembly required” or melted within the first hour.

What I learned this morning was that it was still breathing apart from the minor wounds it had been experiencing during its abrupt birth. For some blatantly obvious reasons, the mother did not survive the procedure long enough to get a bullet in her head as her usage had ended… somehow I feel sorry for the executioner. He had finally gotten off the crutches after shooting a toe off two days after I started.

I guess he was your preferred or main executioner, since he was trigger happy enough to shoot while the gun was holstered and pointing down at his feet. Likewise he is the only one here who looks truly like “paid work” in his face. He terrifies me. No questions. No moral obligations or afterthought. Paid work… that is all…

Once more I have drifted off into the wonderful place that I call, “anywhere else but here!” yet I have to return to point out that shortly after midnight we were locked inside the staff room together with some of the night nurses and two doctors. Apparently the killer was on the loose again. There was sounds of shots and yells all night and we were reluctantly let out this morning at 7am with the notice that we needed a guard if we as much as needed to take a shit.

Now guess who stood at the bus stop and waved goodbye to us as we got on the bus to Vorkuta. Have a wonderful time sending the lone wanderer back to her room by yourself. She is freezing, but there is no blood on her hands or feet…

 

Alice Johnston

Midwife, ERB Frontier

aljo@erbf.gov

 

 

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Kevin Douglas, (douger@gpost.com)             August 20th, 2003

I am writing this letter on behalf of the Midwife staff and myself. We quit! …

v

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Janice Bloombauer, (jbb@news.now)           September 8th, 2003

I am writing this letter on behalf of the Midwife staff and myself. We quit! …

v

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James Smith, (js73@uss.gov)                             December 2nd, 2003

I am writing this letter on behalf of the Midwife staff and myself. We quit! …

v

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Vladimir Anosov, (vlano@ksp.ru)                    January 19th, 2004

I am writing this letter on behalf of the Midwife staff and myself. We quit! …

v

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Fong Yun, (xuei82@ttfn.cn)  January 25th, 2004

Woman missing: 35 year old, American, Last seen August 19th 2003, After prolonged treatment of radio…

v

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Billy Hayes, (Hunterdkhunterhunterdkdkhunterdkdkdk@lol.com)   March 1st, 2004

Old laptop for sale, slightly used. Need a bit of cleaning. Glows in the dark…

v

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The spirit of Euromaidan – Дух Euromaidan

The spirit of Euromaidan – Дух Euromaidan

There aren’t a lot of revolutions anymore, and certainly none in my neck of the woods. I was old enough to realise the importance of the fall of the Wall. I remember watching every bit of news we could get on the telly, and checking the teletext every morning to see if there was anything new and exciting. I’d grown up with the Cold War and Reagan and Maggie, I remember the end of the Falklands War, and Berlin and Rumania were a long way from home.

I’ve walked many a mile for freedom fighters in other countries – for the Basque, Palestinians, Zapatistas and Kurdistan. I’ve protested for gay rights and freedom of speech and against racism and female oppression. But it’s never been personal.

maidan5I fell for Kyiv the first time I was there, and the second time she welcomed me as a second home. Ukraine is a beautiful country and Ukrainians are a marvellous people – their will to sacrifice themselves so others may live is truly remarkable, seen both in the Chernobyl disaster and in Euromaidan.

Maidan Nezalezhnosti is the heart of Kyiv, a pulsating, vibrant and enveloping place where Kyivians gather to protest or rejoice. I have fond memories from the Independence Day celebrations last year, of all the happy people dressed in their finest, wearing and waving the blue and yellow of their flag, of the amazing fireworks display and multimedia show on one of the magnificent buildings.

Then Yanuk decided to trash the talks with the EU, and what started as a small, uninteresting protest – just a handful of students who were sick and tired and wanted to be Europeans – turned ugly when Yanuk set the police on them. On December 1st, Euromaidan in its present form began. Ukrainians came to Maidan to protect the students, to protect each other, to protest the increasingly vicious laws that Yanuk was bringing into force and all the official funds that were siphoned off – by the billions – into the pockets of his family and friends. Their protection was in peace, in numbers and solidarity, not from violence, and that has been the slogan for Euromaidan all along – freedom without violence.

Having followed, breathed, tweeted and cried for Euromaidan from November 22nd to February 22nd, I thought that the end of the revolution would leave me sated. Instead I wanted more – I needed to be there – having feared that I would never again walk those beautiful streets for so long. Unfortunately, my financial status as such is so bad that I had no chance of going there until autumn at the earliest.

That is, until my friend PM’ed me and said: I need to go there and help sweep the roads, will you come with me and be my guide? How could I refuse such a request! Eight days later we were flying high, waiting for the descent to Boryspil. Walking out the gates we were met by Andrej, ever helpful and pleased to see us again. Driving in to Kyiv I was elated with joy – soon I would see my wonderful Maidan again!

Maidan and Khreshchatyk, the parade street that runs through her, are still protected by barricades. There is no trust with the politicians in the interim government and the barricades will stay in place at least until the elections on May 25th. My first glimpse from the car was a blow to the gut. I was grateful I was in the front seat and could hide my silent tears. Watching it on a screen is one thing, but seeing it in person – completely different.

maidan1Our flat was a five minute walk from Maidan. Walking through the first, flimsy barricades and onto the square was heart-breaking. The sickening smell of acrid smoke was heavy on the senses. A barricade of tires, woodwork, kiosks and rubble was straight ahead, to our right were several memorials with an abundance of flowers and lights, and to our left the burnt-out remains of the once stately Trade Unions building.

That’s when the pain and horror truly hit me. How can anyone order a building – a temporary hospital as such, with seriously injured people – to be torched in that way? I could hear their anguished screams in my mind, the horrible smell in my nose seemed to be of scorched flesh, and I almost thought I could see smoke billowing out of the windows.

maidan3

 

We walked through the barricades and into a war zone, into a bubble, an alternate universe. There are tents everywhere – for rest, for sleep, for meals. Army kitchens are abundant and volunteers keep people fed and warm throughout the day. Food is free for those who need it, and is paid for by donations from near and far. I could see the fires that caused the smoke and realised that the smell was not of burning humans, but of warmth and support and comfort.

Further on, banners with pictures and names of many of those who gave their lives. Flowers and flags blackened by smoke everywhere. And thousands of people, some dressed in army drabs, some in mourning, others dressed as if it were a normal day. For them, it probably was, for us, it was intense. The feeling of safety – within the barricades, within the walls of the bubble – was great. We walked and walked and walked, past millions of flowers and thousands of candles and hundred of photos, toys, bibles, pieces of clothing and shoes. We stood in front of the stage and listened to a priest say some words. There was the Christmas tree with all her banners and flags, there was Berehynia still protecting her hearth, there was the statue of Kyiv’s founding Brothers and Sister with their sooty flags.

There are no words to describe my emotions that evening. I was on a rollercoaster that went from tears to laughter within seconds. The next day was the same – meeting up with Ukrainian friends from Lviv and Kyiv, wandering inside and outside the bubble, the war zone that was beginning to feel like a theme park from Les Mis – except the AK47s are real, the past and present threats to democracy are real, the loss of lives is real. Kids wandering around with fan-tailed pigeons for photo ops were the same as on Independence Day, but these were wearing drab hoodies instead of summer colours. Minnie Mouse was in her finest, but the demolished water cannon was as much of an attraction.

maidan2Gradually I felt less guilt, less sorrow, less pain. I became a part of Maidan, as it had become a part of me in the previous four months. I spoke with strangers who weren’t strangers, because there is a connection between all who are there. We watched planks being moved onto Maidan in the morning that during the day became an enormous construction to house a guest book and a place of contemplation. One day we were part of an international flag parade with dozens of flags from nations all over the world. Walking on to Maidan with my Ukrainian flag and my two friends carrying a Norwegian flag each was amazing, the applause was overwhelming.

And the people. Even in the most battle worn of faces, the ones who had stayed since the beginning, there was hope and friendship. Their gratitude for our visiting seemed greater than ours for what they have done. The burly, scary guy with the enormous baseball bat guarding the entrance to Instytutska who wanted us to take his photo. The young English teacher/translator from Eastern Ukraine who was sad that foreigners thought he was a Banderista just because he was a patriot. Some Ukrainians feared that Putin would bomb their city and others thought Crimea would end up as Transnistria.

All good things must end, as did this weekend. We only spent 65 hours in Kyiv this time, but the emotions will always be there. Humbleness, for a people who stayed put even when the bullets were flying, who kept singing and praying and hoping for a better future. Pride, that I have played a part in this revolution. Respect, for all those who sacrificed themselves so that Ukraine may once again be free. Happiness, that I was allowed to be present and feel the warmth and love of Maidan. Sadness, that so much pain and suffering was wreaked on so many people both physically and mentally. And hope – that Ukrainians will get their freedom and democracy.

All I know for certain is that Euromaidan has changed me. To the better, I hope. I look forward to celebrating Independence Day on Maidan this year. I will be waving my Ukrainian flag(s) and singing Держа́вний гі́мн Украї́ни (Ukraine has not yet perished), I have no idea what words I am singing but I can copy the sounds quite well at the moment. And when someone yells Slava Ukraini! I will reply (Pavlovsk as I am) Heroyem slava! as we all do, on Maidan.

maidan4Interesting how a country I knew nothing about (two years ago) now has my internationalistic heart in a vice. I didn’t even realise I was a nationalist until recently. Nationalism – love of a nation – is never bad, as long as it is used for good. I wish all the best for Ukraine, and I look forward to visiting her again, and again, and again. I feel blessed to have the spirit of Euromaidan in my heart, body and soul. If my actions and deeds have changed even just one person’s view of the revolution and Ukraine, I have done my job.

Слава Україні!

My first Intermission

My first Intermission

A small intermission.

I have been indulging myself a lot in the horror and mythology of the yesteryears. Questions have crossed my mind recently about the influence of this gore and psychological terror in my daily life. I will get back to those later.

The root of all my evil (I love the sound of that) comes from a few authors that not many people know about. Moreover, those who do never lived to tell the tale…. Booh etc.

I have for no apparent reason stayed away from the low hanging fruits and never sat down to read Stephen King or Koontz. Instead I have sought the older manuscripts of pioneers of their time like H.P. Lovecraft, C.W. Chambers, Edgar Allan Poe, H.G. Wells, Ambrose Bierce just to name a few.

Reading through these artists masterworks (…in my opinion although they are often fucking boring) I have quickly understood the bulgy underline of suspense created by fear of the unknown and harmful. They often speak about things that are worse than death, but never truly explain what that would be. That makes the terror even more potent. If it is their inability to grasp anything worse than death or on purpose, they leave, such monumental details out we won’t truly know! Nevertheless, the horror of the untold is amplifying the means. Leaving something unsaid will make the reader come up with five different things that could be worse than death. Five different things that would shatter the human mind and turn our bastion of blind hope into a playground for the harmful objects of the black veil.

I mentioned that I often found their stories boring and that is as much a fact as anything you would find in a cookbook. Many of their stories have a point to make and it is often a good point, no doubt about that. It is their story construction that is mind-draining obvious and transparent. Some of the artists aren’t subtle and I get the experience of someone running towards me with a mallet, counting down loudly when they are going to strike… and that is just not good storytelling. Subtlety and half-told gimmicks are giving the reader a sense of the world being larger than it is. There is nothing behind the doors of those houses we never enter. There is no sustenance in the food that is never eaten in a story. It is our mind that builds the world and giving hints instead of explaining everything painfully detailed will let the reader use their imagination and they will thank you in their silent mind for letting them be smart enough to take part in the mental visualization of your story.

Half the story is five times bigger. This is a point I have discussed with people who can stand talking to me for more than 5 minutes without their eyes glossing over as if they have a fever. The concept of leaving things out on purpose for the reader to make their own assumption is in my opinion smart. But with great responsibility comes the fear of me with a bat if you finish that tortured sentence like every fucking else… god I hate that sentence. If there were anything I want to slap Stan Lee for, it would be for his abuse of obvious puns to draw in the drones. The comic book mastodons have poked a dead badger for years now… when it gets too mushy and decomposed; they discard it and find another dead animal to poke. I know you are desperate for money, but please… let some of them die already and nail the lid with their bones!
Not that I am being tangential… half a story, I can give an easy example that can lead to many different outcomes. Since the outcome is indifferent to the main plot it will make the reader either easily discard the note or make half a conspiracy website about it.

“He had been sitting in the living room all night. Sunrays breached the stained windows gleaming off the barrels in his lap. Dozing off for a moment, he heard a noise from the basement. He forgot to barge up the small hatch to the coal sleuth. Two deer slugs, ought to do the trick he thought as he entered the kitchen and rounded on the basement door.”

This story is longer than “A man walked over a manhole…” but I want to set a mood and several outcomes. There is a story in there by itself, with rather obvious intents and easy to guess that he will end either in a gunfight or something harmless entered like a cat. The overly active mind will then say that it is a diversion and they will kick down doors and windows, catching him off guard. Other psycho’s would say that the cat is an alien getting his trust before probing him or killing him off. I would probably leave it a cat just to create fake suspense… or have the cat strapped with a bomb or nuke the entire place because I can… it is my fucking story… muahahaha etc.

No, it is not my story when I present it to the public. It becomes a joined experience. Go read on the modern development of pulp literature and fiction. Something like Harry Potter had millions of people wanting their opinions heard on how to end the book. How the characters should develop and who fucked whom! I am not sure if Rowling took any advice at all or just ignored it all to tell her story, but when it becomes that important to make a grand finale on a heptalogy you tend to listen just a tiny bit to the populous to make sure that you get the last couple of millions of pounds in the bag. I know it is not all about the money though, she took pride in her work and I think we all take pride in the hard work we do. It doesn’t have to be in writing, just in general.

Horror for me is three major factors. If you can fuse them gracefully, you will have a great story.

  1. Horror has to be subtle. Screamers are for the weak artists, there is no long-term sustenance in having something scream in your face for a minute and then leave stage right. That is why books are better at this genre than movies.
  2. The untold story. Never tell the definitive reason to the story. The man behind the curtain is only awe-worthy as long as his true existence is concealed. Hint to the plot and use the characters mindset to further their depth by giving an insight to their thoughts about the plot. They are often wrong and blinded by horror, it will give an interesting insight to their mental status and maybe a new way of thinking about the plot you are trying to hide.
  3. The grasp-less fear. Many of the old writers worked with the concept of alternate worlds, monsters we could not see and things that attacked or manipulated people when they are weakest. Often when they slept. A man with a hatchet or a face on the killer is reducing the horror to a vague thriller. If the killer can die, it goes Darwinian in seconds and you might as well make an action movie with a thriller twist. The ultimate fear of humans is mainly the things we cannot defend ourselves against.

The ultimate fear of humans.” What fear humans the most, is their limitations in life. Even in early writing, being inferior and powerless was the basis of human fear. We act upon instinct if we are threatened and can’t we help ourselves or is restrained beyond help we break down. It is as simple as that. Evolution and countless generations learning each other that we are the master race, has created the desire for power and dominance. We have always desired a certain power over our lives and even in this modern society, power is more important than ever. Physical and verbal tools are used all the time to dominate others by pushing our opinions upon others. We often see suicide in the lack of control over one’s own life. Oppression is a killer and we crave the freedom to make our own decisions. This is well known and horror writers feed off that information. Take a movie like SAW, people nearly masturbated over the first couple because it was a gritty display of power and insane tools. Not subtle, but yet effective to prove the point about despair in lack of freedom. I know there is more to it with those movies, but they are not my point at the moment.

Another thing that will make people shit bricks is things we cannot resist or fight against. Back at the instincts, we fight ferociously to survive and if we cannot grasp our opponent, we often buckle under mentally. Things like ghosts and aliens are used beyond boredom and stands as veterans of the oppressing forces we fail to grasp and recoil, but what about someone like Pennyworth and Kruger. The ones assaulting the sleeping or the weak (often displayed as children…) they are a new level of ghosts, although used as an overpowering gimmick that we tried endlessly to defy. (They are desperate to show the power of humanity victorious for some reason… they ought to put in some clips of the people killed in the Middle East by crossfire and make a point about the power of humanity spilling on the ground.) It is all in the context of what is presented to us.

At last, I will answer those questions I threatened with at the beginning of the post.

Q. Has your daily life been influenced by the dark places you sought inspiration?

A. I try to distance my life and my hobby, but it is not easy. Of course, it will make you think twice before you go into the cellar at night.

Q. Are you more afraid of the darkness now?

A. No! I am the worst thing you can meet in a dark cellar. So it is quite the opposite actually, I have partially conquered my fear of the dark and unknown by making up worse shit than I could ever cross me in a dark alley.

Q. Where do you seek inspiration and has it evolved, from just searching horror to a more specific subject.

A. Books and the internet are two good resources to find “pants on head retarded” things that can be converted into a horror idea. As my stories progress I find myself looking more in the direction of mental illness than aliens and zombies to be honest, so I guess I have become more picky with my subjects.

Q. What made you write about Exillion and where did it come from?

A. The king in Yellow by C.W Chambers are a fantastic fiction from 1895 is a starting point, but their means are different. I always like the concept of inanimate objects having a life on their own, manipulating etc. I think the reason I created Exillion is because it was cluttering up my mind. Exillion is not the book; the book is titled Exillion… that is different!

Q. Have you ever had a point with the way you write your short stories?

A. Yes. Everything has a purpose and every development has a deeper meaning.

Q. What is your favorite short story of the lot?

A. The one I am writing now. That girl be’ crazy… I love craziness in the harmless shape. People talking nonsense is just cringe-worthy and hilarious.

Q. Are you going somewhere with these stories?

A. I want to say yes, but mostly it was to get the clutter out of my head. Making these stories gives me room to refine the concepts that work and maybe bring them to new and exciting places. If I may use a nerdy simile this is my “pensive.”

Q. Anything else you want to add?

A. Yes, why am I about to break the forth wall by asking myself why I made this like an interview. I am talking to myself and asking/replying like it was a test.

If any of this makes sense, please call up a random friend a say “Your milk only has seven days to live!” 

04 Before

04 Before

As I stare into the flames I can see how I am going to die. Watching the waves lick the crust makes me shutter as for how far a human being is able to push itself over a ledge. Are you so desperate to preserve yourself and your stupid beliefs?

…Ah fuck!

They made it my fault, my business to care. I was content in my little shack but no. They had to drag that… thing along and drop dead on my doorstep. You damn pricks! Sort out you shit yourselves; if anyone survives this crap. I brought the brat and I fucking delivered! Now what?

It hadn’t been more than a few weeks since that delegation of armored soup cans came stumbling across my driveway and out into my fields. I know I inherited this land from that old coot, but the leniency people were taking just grinded my gears. I remember that I was about to go talk with them when a large pickup came running alongside and stopped in front of me. I had never been threatened like this before. They didn’t say a word. They just aimed their rifles at me and stood still until the large convoy had long passed. Then they crawled back into the pickup and left the same way.

I didn’t care that much at the start. They were rude; there was no reason for them to threaten me like that. It took me a couple of days before the thought of the injustice had crawled under my skin. I took my rust bucket and set out to look for them. I threw a few lengths of rope, a mallet and some sticks so I could excuse it with a cattle count. I would fake a round up to check their health and have me a look around.

It was easy to follow the large track they had made across my fields. They had followed the road for a mile and broken off towards the hillside to the north. I didn’t have any cattle in that area but I slowly drove along the deep trench the hefty vehicles had made. As I reached the hills I saw a large area closed off to the public. Barbwire fence was running across the foot of the hills only displaying a sign by near the only entrance inside the parameter. [Military Zone – All entrance prohibited. Intruders will be shot!]

That is kind of harsh as it is my land still. I own the hills and the fields in front of it; I don’t think the government is allowed to take my fields just because they suddenly want too. There was no around as I walked along the fence for a while starring inside. There was a large parking lot just inside the carved mountainside. I had never seen that before and the large lit door was a dead giveaway. Where the hell did all that come from? Have the military secretly been digging in my backyard without my consent? Why have I never seen anyone or anything before now?

I plucked up the courage to open the gate. Nothing happened. I grabbed one of my stakes and open my holster. I had brought my old Smith and Wesson just in case. I don’t know what they will do to keep me away from this project or what the hell this building was. I crept towards the door looking at all the holes in the wall along the parking lot. Nothing stirred and no shots were fired. I gained a little courage walking closer to the door and leaned slowly against it listening for voices or movement… nothing?

Opening the door I didn’t think about the strange coincidence that it was unlocked before long after I broke that entry. There was a small room with a table and a chair by the entrance. Everything had been cleaned off down to the last paperclip. I didn’t see anything of interest in the room, there was a sign with an arrow and a metal door leading down into the darkness. Once more I stood still for minutes listening for any sign of life and again I wasted minutes for naught.

I hadn’t got a reason for pursuing the military into their lair, but they had broken an entry and I was angry that they had threatened me like that. I wanted answers! I wanted an apology! I want compensation for the fields they ripped a trench into! Well then I wanted to know what was down the hall anyway. Keeping to the shadows along the wall, the vague light leading down didn’t help me prepare for what to come, but it guided well enough for me to have an idea when I reached a turn or the path descended.

I felt a pressure at my ears as the path went downwards for a while; I was apparently beneath sea level at that point. I came to a large open room with no lights at all. I stayed at the halls end and waited to see if there was anything in the darkness that could guide me further. The lights stopped next to me and the room vaguely echoed my stifled breath. The air was dense and I remember the strange metallic smell that slowly overwhelmed the dank mossy odor I had grown accustom too. It took me a long time to notice the red lamp straight ahead. A tiny red dot was glowing in the darkness. There was no mechanical sound or any movement. It was completely static.

I stepped further inside the room. My heart in my throat I felt something beyond my control push me forward. My curiosity had conquered my sense and I had for the moment thrown caution to the wind. I drew my pistol silently and moved further towards the tiny light. A loud clank sound echoed in the room. Something like a rumble started and humming filled the room as several large lamps turned on at the same time.

Completely blinded I stood in the middle of a large underground room. It took me some time to get use to the lights and when I finally could see anything without my eyes burning and water filling my sight I saw the largest metal door I had ever seen. 209 stood with large yellow letters across the door or wall, depending on what it was suppose to be. A small computer panel stood in front of the giant door having a tiny red lamp on the display. I stepped backwards towards the tunnel and crouched down my pistol lifted; waiting for someone coming along to investigate.

Nobody came. I waited for minutes…nothing. I slowly crept back towards the panel again and stared down at the keyboard. Everything in there was dusty and when I saw that certain letters were easier to read than others I wrote the letters with my finger in the dusty panel. “wertio” was used on the top row. “ashkl” was used on second and “vm” on third. No numbers and only one set of prints on the spacebar. I turned on the screen on the red button and watched the loading screen. It was old and confusing, vomiting tons of information about its internal booting sequence. Finally it came to a halt asking for the password. I stared blankly at the keys trying to think. There was nothing that made sense and tapping in “Metal works” only made a 4 left counter appear. Maybe it wasn’t English? It could be something more in the line of Latin or Greek. If this was the government they would love something like Helios or Ashramites. Thinking about that last word gave me a sense of dread. What if they used the same words twice, I can’t see that. I doubt they used space more than once since the tiny dustless spot was perfectly intact, but the other letters were hard to guess. As a wild stab in the dark I wrote /help to see if that gave any pointers. To my surprise it not only took one guess away from me, but at the top it wrote “Even while going back to nature, America will never be in second place!”

I was tempted to write Bullhonky on the panel, but thought better of it as the cursor blinked at me menacingly. Two tries left and only more questions arose. The answer were in the riddle, I couldn’t think of any reason for it to be there if not. What did the riddle refer too? Was it something in the military or the government? We didn’t have a 100 presidents yet so that was out of the question, what about 209th largest city in the states? What was the 208th largest city in the state? I could never guess it, although Detroit came to mind and I couldn’t stop myself smirking at the misfortune that befell the riches city in 1960. So sad and yet the irony was blinding me like a mirror after a hangover. Wait a minute, second best? Was it referring to silver medals? Well it couldn’t be that as neither d was in it or all the letters used. Maybe they needed a second code to close the doors? Could it be silver hills? Fuck… 1 try left. Something patriotic maybe… a wild stab now or it could just go to hell. What about Silver hawk, no towerhawk… the lamps turned red as an alarm went off. Looking around me I looked for the exit tunnel and began walking when I saw the computer reset itself. I stopped to look at it as it wrote “Silver Tomahawk” making me feel retarded for writing towerhawk, there was no such thing. A second alarm went off as the large door began to slide to one side. Panic-stricken that I would be caught I launched myself at the door and jammed my barrel into the side it was sliding too and began pelting down the tunnel. I could hear the crunching sound. My trusty old six-shooter grinded the gears giving me seconds to get a head start. The weapons they had when they held me up were far too superior to my gun and wooden stick which I had left outside when I snuck through the first door.

I was half way up the tunnel when shots were fired. They had left the chamber and armed guards were pursuing me in the darkness. I had nearly reached the room upstairs when several rounds fired hit my thigh and I fell to the ground with a yell. Blinded by a searing pain in my face as I hit the floor face first, I heard the soldier reach me. I tried to get to my feet, but the right leg didn’t react and my feeble attempt to stand up was interrupted by a hard metal piece hitting the back of my head. Falling forward I barely felt the floor greeting me as the second blow to my neck knocked me unconscious.

A dark room came into sight. I was lying on a metal plank bolted to the wall. A flickering light interrupted my sleep. I must have been out for a long time, I don’t remember the bandages on my leg and head. Trying to sit up I looked out into a hallway. I couldn’t feel my body; maybe they had given me some painkillers to take the top off my post surgery pain. I got to my feet and began walking, but something was amiss. My right leg wasn’t responding well and dragged slowly along as I fought my way to the hall. The place looked like a prison, but the small rooms didn’t have any bars. Walking into the hallway I slowly slumped down the corridor of similar rooms. At the end a door stood ajar leading to a staircase. Taking one step outside the door I got the urge to turn around. I felt like someone was breathing down my neck. Whirling around I saw nothing out of the ordinary… at first. The last room on my current right was lit by a tiny petrol lamp. A book lay beside it reflecting the glow of the lamp in the shiny surface. I approached the book like a bomb. I had not seen a single object that wasn’t bolted to the floor or wall since I came here. That book and lamp was so out of place that I felt a surge of fear running down my spine. It felt like a mousetrap and I was biting the cheese. Kneeling down beside it I felt the wind brush my neck again. Looking around I found myself just as alone as I have ever been. I touched the black surface of the book and felt the stone like surface to be wet.

Opening the book was a breathtaking moment. The letters were following the book as it opened. Pushing the letters closer to it I saw how the long strange letters were moving in and out of the first page depending on how ajar the lid was. Amazed for a second I searched the pages for any language recognizable, but it was all signs to me. Turning to one of the center pages I reckoned I saw a small ink man run along the letters into the margin and closing the book didn’t bring him back. I turned around the book seeing that the letters and signs suddenly changed shape and size. Some of them formed new signs and other made diagrams and crude pictures. Completely ignoring the world around me I shuffled around the book making to look at it from all angles, although nothing remotely resembled English or anything western for that sake.

Finally when I had spun the book to the left twice and flickered through the pages I came across a page where it said “Have you ever felt the warmth of a harlot?” I starred strangely into the book not daring to move as I thought I had misread it. Reading it a few times I flipped the page and it continued…”Take a deep breath, you are not well. Can you stay for supper? She hasn’t seen you yet.”

What… the harlot? I don’t understand why the book is coming on to me. As I looked up I saw a bowl of soup. I still remember it clearly. Standing there fuming and suddenly emitting a fragrance of sweet tomatoes. I put down the book and crawled towards it. It was just close enough for me not to stand up first. Picking up the soup I noticed a pair of legs in front of me. “Beggars can’t be choosers!”  a cold voice said and a hand shot out of the bowl grabbing my throat pulling my head towards the floor. I felt a cracking sensation as it collided with the floor and I woke up with a startle on the metal plank again.

For a moment I didn’t know how I had end up there again, but lifting my head this time was beyond anything I had ever felt. The blow to the head was throbbing like insane and my leg was making me buckle. I was poorly bandaged I noticed and bloodstains had run down the leg. I keeled to the side as I sat up and had to lean against the wall, sitting in a blunt stupor as the room came into view for a second time.

Metal bars. Metal bars everywhere. Getting up I saw that all the rooms suddenly had thick metal bars. The small part of the hallway between the rooms I could see was littered with debris from the roof and everything was dead quiet. Calling for a guard gave a strange echo down the hall. Nothing stirred, not even rats were occupying this dark basement of an unknown place. Where was I?

This is not the same place I was in before. Walls of concrete and rusty bars filled this cold establishment? I yelled for at guard again and nothing happened. Waiting frustrated for an unknown amount of time I took the chair from the corner of the room and threw it at the bars with hard crash. The noise would wake the dead. As nothing stirred I began hammering on the bars with a leg and still nothing would react to the noise. Giving up I grabbed the bars in frustration and began shaking them, noticing they were loose in their sockets. I stared at the debris from the ceiling and then up at the cracked concrete running the length of my cell. Earthquake maybe, the whole place sudden felt like it could come down over my ears.

Oh well, I could either rot here or give it a push to see if I could loosen the bars enough to warp the frame a little. Standing in the middle I got the best vibration effect and began rustling the bars back and forth for ages. Concrete dust rained down as I stood for what felt like hours.

Exhausted and weakened from lack of food and medical attention I gave in and sat down on the bed again. My leg was throbbing and the muscles in my neck felt too short. Slumping to the side in the hope of being able to get a little sleep, barely closing my eyes I felt the wind on my face and everything went colder. My body gave a shiver and I looked up into the clear sky.

Sitting up slowly I found myself confused and slightly violated. I didn’t get here on my own! Looking around I saw that I was on my back on a bench in the middle of a park. It was dusk now, but what day was it?

Hoisting my legs to the ground I felt the right one buckle again, but it was manageable for now. Following the path along the dark park I noticed that some of the trees were slightly uprooted. They were swaying menacingly to one side and creaking wildly in the mild wind. Searching through branches for a walking stick I came across the first body since I had woken up. A torched body lay at the root of an oak tree. The grass around it was scorched and the body was curled up in a fetal position, beyond recognition.

Looking around the place I suddenly had the paranoid feeling that the trees had eyes. Was there a psycho loose with a flamethrower? I looked like someone had lit this poor person and left. I am surprised the grass got singed and not the remotest sign on a forest fire… or park fire if we are feeling semantic.

Walking away from that horrible spot I vaguely remembered the military delegation that came over my land. They had threatened me with rifles out of the blue, what would stop them from torching protesters… there were always protesters for some reason or another when the government was involved, they were easy targets for the ill-informed and unenlightened mobs of masturbatory hate reapers you see on television. How can angry people make me so angry over them being angry? It is a stupid paradox; I shouldn’t let myself get effected by their conflicts. They can go to hell if they want, who would miss them?

My head was throbbing and my vision was limited in the growing darkness. Stumbling around the edges of the park I kept finding the large wall that isolated the noise from the town, leaving the park rather serene on a summer day. I could recognize it now. It was the city park. The large red wall with the black streetlamps on top was a joy to see. I had been there many times before although never at night. I kept following the wall around waiting for a hole, but none came. Stumbling along I was getting tired again and the muscle pain was slowly overwhelming me. When I came to a point where the wall suddenly stopped I searched for a corner or something to guide me past. I was sure that it was a park closed off all the way around, the wall can’t just stop?

Starring into the moonlit darkness I saw something gleam pale in the fleeting light ahead. I nudged on my leg refusing to follow me and panting like I had run a marathon. As I came closer to the large object my heart began to throb violently and sank into my stomach when I reached what looked like a large chest. It couldn’t be a chest; I was seeing things, a bike? No it was larger than that… Coming up right behind it my heart skipped a beat as I saw it was just a bloody bench. I had been chasing the metal off a bench, what the hell is wrong with me? Sitting down on it for a moment to catch my breath I suddenly noticed that it was warm. The air was cold now and the sun had been gone for quite a while, nothing but something living could have heated this bench to such a lukewarm state.

Unsure if it was wise to call into the night, since my last attempt to come in contact with people left me crippled. I got up and strode into the darkness along the dust path. Trying to walk silently while dragging dead meat along with every second step was a task of greatest concentration and I finally collapsed completely fatigued next to a large tree. I sat down trying to listen to the sounds of the night. No hooting, no street noise, not even a cricket were stirring here anymore. The wind was eerie and my energy was gone. I waited for a sign or a sound but nothing came. Curled up in the grass, freezing I fell asleep for a tenth of a second.

A loud crash echoed and I woke up with a startle. The large hall echoed with the falling of a wooden ceiling cover. The dust sprung up like a wave and slowly landed feet away. I was sitting inside a large building… where was I? It looked so familiar. Pushing myself to my feet by forcing myself up the wall with my left leg in the ground, I felt like I had climbed a mountain. Staggering a little as I ventured down the long hallway; oblivious of other people there at all. My stomach was controlling me, the rumbling and churning felt like a punch in the gut, but it carried on dragging me along the hundreds of barricaded doors and windows.

Shopping mall? The shopping mall at the outskirts of town? I figured that someone must have taken pity upon me and dropped me off here so I could get some food. Walking down the deserted halls gave a muffled echo. I didn’t have any trouble finding my way around the large place… hey it was day again?

The light from the windows in the ceiling was sending light through the thick dust. It wasn’t sunrays, so it must be clouded then… maybe it will rain? I reached the main arc at the entrance. The doors outside was boarded up and the security metal bars were down making it impossible to leave by normal means.

Food, I need food… stomach rebelling, I guess it is enough to see that I am safe for now. How did I get inside? How did I get out of jail? Who cares, I need food… food is good!

Stumbling along I got to the grocery store at one of the side exits of the mall. Everything was either gone or rotten beyond consumption. I could nearly see the fumes coming off the cucumbers and garlic sending disgusted shivers down my spine. I never felt this way about food before, I am really getting desperate!

Pummeling the door to the grocery store to see if I could get inside I noticed something on the ground protruding just around the pillar dividing the shops. I ignored it as I shoulder-tackled the door, but nothing budged. Giving up my curiosity got the best of me and I began to walk towards the thing on the floor dreading that it was another corpse.

I just came down the hall from that way, how would it be possible to overlook such a large lump on the floor? I didn’t know if the shock of seeing the first torched corpse had steeled me against it, but this second corpse scorched beyond recognition didn’t have the same effect on me. Sure it was sad and he was missing a leg, but still… at least it wasn’t me. Imagine the pain of it all, getting stripped flesh from bone by roaring fire. How long would a mind stay conscious after such a paralyzing pain? Had they screamed?

Looking at the body I hitched up my courage to try another go at the grocery door. Turning around I saw a reflection in the broken glass on the opposite side. Was that me? Stepping up to the window display I could see the reflection of an old man. Unshaven and blood down my shirt I watched the uncanny expression of disgust I found every morning in the mirror at home. The old man staring back at me didn’t like what he saw. Well I didn’t like him either and his beard was getting grey… take that you old prick. I shook my head as I gave up trying to reason with the reflection, we are never going to agree on that mullet!

“You can stay there and look ugly… I am leaving you forever… goodbye nut job!” I said out loud turning around to face the grocery door again… it was open? There was no door? I just stood fighting that door a minute ago. It can’t be… I felt that door? Did I offend it? Maybe it left because I said it was ugly… but I was talking to my reflection? What a sensitive décor… insecure doors… I made a funny.

Walking towards the grocery store I felt sick again. The smell had returned and filled my lungs, creating a wall of odor. Fighting against it I reached the sacred insides of the mighty food chest that would be my savior.

What the hell is this? Absurd and morbid! The grocery store had been rearranged so the chest high shelves stood in large circles around a hung door. In a giant noose hung the front door like it had committed suicide while the shelves had watched it; cheering it on. I feel flabbergasted at the sight, how could it have misunderstood me like that. Maybe it was angry because I kept pushing it and fighting to get inside, have I hurt its feelings? I tore my eyes away from the abysmal sight and rummaged the shelves for some canned food. It could stay fresh for a long time; maybe I could get some peaches… I am in the country; we ought to have a lot of them. I found some pineapple and dried beef that looked edible and while I consumed it with ferocious greed I noticed a wall had replaced the hole where the door had been employed. I guess the other doors have their own jobs… was there more unemployment for walls these days? I guess you can’t keep the same job forever with a town falling apart. A spare wall has to earn a living.

After I had my gut full of this rather strange buffet, my wits came about and I remembered the food mart at the center of the building. It had glass doors, maybe they were broken too. It would be easier to get in and out when the doors didn’t put up a fight and then off themselves… what a… hang on there, what is that?

I found a small note carved into the bottom of the door dangling from the ceiling. “I guess it is not water!” the note said, nothing to elaborate. Well I won’t drink the water then. Let me see if the mart has something more hospitable to offer then. Oh yeah I am locked inside.

Leaning against the shelves as I looked around; I found a small office at the back of the store. Slowly turning the handle it opened up with a creek. “See, you are a great door… there is no reason for us to bicker. We both love the work you do, keep up the good fight!” I told the door as I looked inside. The table inside had been pushed to the wall behind the door and back again. I could see the scrapings on the floor and the blood on the table. Carefully shutting the door I noticed a ventilation shaft… Why hadn’t I thought about that before now?

Pushing the table the same way as someone had done before I don’t recollect me thinking how it had been pushed back again, would it matter? Crawling onto the table I could just reach the large cover and threw it to the floor with a crash. Nothing stirred and I waited for seconds to hear if anyone would react to the noise. Nothing!

Climbing into the shaft was painful and stupid. The zinc was warped and soft. I could feel every inch it buckled under my weight. I dragged myself along on my elbows trying to control my newly discovered fear of tiny spaces that could fall apart any second. It made a sharp right turn and saw light. Sweet grey daylight was taunting me like a fog light on a train. I really hated those lights. A strange glow in the fog and when you get closer the horn would make you shit yourself… not that I have ever bragged about that trip to anyone.

Moving closer the light seemed to grow in my vision. I felt like a rabbit trapped in the headlights of a truck, isolated and unable to divert from the path. I had kept a steady pace that didn’t change as I came closer. Even though horrible memories kept slapping my face like a 10 foot amber dildo with a running start, I knew that I couldn’t go back and the vent would buckle under me at any second. I reached the end and looked out at the hallway for a moment feeling relieved. The creaking noise behind was reminding me that I needed to get out of there as the screws were giving in. I pushed myself out ready to break the fall with my hands when my right leg didn’t bend as I wanted too and the searing pain made me turn halfway in the air and cry out in pain before I hit the ground on my left shoulder and rebounded my head against the tiles.

“Is he alive?” a voice came outside my head. It sounded alienated; it was so long since I had heard anyone speak to me. I opened my eyes to see two soldiers stand over me. It took me a few second to realize it was home in my bed. Everything hurt right now; I couldn’t speak and ended up making a grunting sound. Turning my head I saw that I had been placed fully dressed on my bed without any recollection on how I got there.

“Who is he?” one of them said walking closer. “He is the only one left here. Don’t go any closer; he has blood on his hands. He could be dangerous?”

They stared at me for a second and when I tried to move they drew their guns at me… not again?

“Does he fit description?” one of them said both with their rifles at my face.

“Don’t know… he looks old and mangy but not 95!” the other one said.

I was right there; ask me for fuck sake… what you want to know? I thought trying to elbow myself into a sitting position so I could gesture that I listened. In panic one of them lifted his rifle and pummeled my face with the shaft… fuck my life and everybody in it!

I woke up as somebody threw water at me. It was cold and wet. Now I was cold and wet… thank you property displacement. Why should I suffer just because water didn’t like to be that wet? It was not my choice. If I was king I would demand water to dry a little up, maybe get a tan… everyone loves coffee, it has a nice tan!

I was now in the middle of town. I could see the blurred outlines of the balto statue. People were moving around me as I sat on my knees. The pain was horrible as my leg throbbed worse than ever. I couldn’t take the pain anymore and slumped to the side feeling someone grab me around the neck and pulled me back on my knees. When I tumbled over again I got a kick in the back and rolled around on my stomach in pain. “Get to your feet civilian!” someone bellowed at me and when I didn’t react fast enough, I was pulled up by the arms by two large soldiers covered in camouflage gear. “Yeah you are not invisible…” I thought to myself as they thrashed me around for a bit. “You live at Bonaville Drive… are you A. Cier?” one of the men barked like a commando.

I shook my head twice and they shook me hard, my lolling head throbbed painfully and they caught me as I nearly buckled again. “Who are you?” he shouted. I shook my head again and he took it as a sign of uncooperative manners and hit me in the back with something hard.

“Last time… who are you and what are you doing here?” he yelled. I shrugged feeling more confused that he was. It couldn’t have been more clearly that he was about to punish me again, I heard him draw back ready to strike when I sidestepped in hope that the inevitable pain would wait for a few seconds. I staggered his comrade and the violent barker fell past me and landed face down on the grass. Grabbing the service pistol in his belt and reacted on instinct. I shot the staggered soldier up under the helmet and executed the soldier on the grass by pressing the gun against his throat and pulled the trigger without a second glance.

Yelling nearby made me wake up and dropping down next to the first shot soldier I hid my handcuffed hands behind him still holding the gun. Someone was running towards me from a large truck, they looked armed and livid. Pretending to be dead too I waited for the first one to bend down beside us before I pulled the trigger through his right eye and had to shoot the last man nine times before the holster was empty. He was lying on the ground choking as I crawled over to him. Leaning my hands on each side of his neck, I slowly choked him with the handcuffs until he stopped struggling.

Kill or be killed apparently… what is going on here, they were not local troops. Why have they sought to execute me? How did they know my residence and the old man I bought the place from? It was nearly impossible to get on my feet, the leg was killing me and I think the head trauma is slowly crippling me. I took a rifle from the strangled soldier and used it as a cane. It was hard to keep it steady but at least I could walk again… sort off.

I looked into the van for supplies when I spotted a child? A small… “Are you a boy or a girl?” I asked to the cowering child sitting at the far end of the truck hiding its head.

“Where are the soldiers?” the kid asked with a trembling voice.

“On a picnic!” I heard myself reply instantly.

The child looked terrified as it looked through its fingers. I guess that a wild man appearing after a gunfight would freak me out too. “Why have they taken you?” I asked stepping a little back from the truck to show that I was not cornering it. For a minute or so the kid stayed back in the trailer looking out at me without moving at all. “Are you coming out anytime soon?” I asked again feeling more stupid than ever. Shouldn’t I focus on my own survival than someone who didn’t look like they wanted to be around?

“You know what… I am going home. Cya kid!” I said shrugging as I turned around and left the truck. There wasn’t more than ten minutes walk from this place and home to my shack. This was getting insane, or was I getting accustomed to an ultra sanity… there is no such thing… I am just growing old and senile.

Doesn’t my old age allow me to make up my own words or… not yet…

Looking down the streets I see the dirt gathered along the roads and sidewalks. I don’t feel much like searching for other people right now. I was just reaching the end of a street when my house came in sight. Limping towards my habitat I felt the cold wind rustle my hair. I guess autumn is coming. The kid ought to find shelter somewhere.

I climbed up my porch and got inside just as the wind brushed the side of the house. My door was partially unhinged, but why should I care? There were no one left to steal my food and furniture. Getting inside I saw to my annoyance that someone had stolen my food and furniture. All my chairs were gone and tables were destroyed. Half of my kitchen was torn apart leaving nothing but scattered cutlery everywhere. They had even stolen my dishes… those savages; I will kill you all and then punch you in the face… in that order.

I went upstairs to see how much they had touched of my bed and bathrooms? Partially intact I sought the mirror over my sink. There was no reflection left. Nothing stared back at me as hung half dead over the sink trying to get the pipes to work. A gurgling defiance let me know that it wasn’t broken and finally brown water came gushing out of the tap. I waited for the water to turn clearer and slowly began drinking like I had never taste something that sweet. It felt like rain upon my face and my dried body began to sway from the ecstasy that was clean water… or was it water? The door had warned me about it not being water? It can’t be this water; it must have meant the water it guarded in the mall.

It tasted wonderful and bathing my head in it gave a rush of adrenaline that woke my addled senses. I stared into the mirror for a long time without anything to look at. I just hate when my reflection is late… maybe it left after I said it was ugly? Why is everyone so picky?

I wanted to sleep. Looking into my bedroom I saw how the soldiers had manhandled my bed after they found me. Why were they after me and the kid? How had the kid survived this? Well at least it was small and not mangled by the military. What gender was it? Short hair and white clothes… must be a boy; no one in their right mind would wear white after Labor Day! Uh, a fasionista are we now? Well fuck you brain, I want to sleep.

Putting the rifle next to my half ruined bed, I crawled into the sheets and leaned back slowly hissing as my throbbing head touched the pillow. A long sleep and no interruptions tomorrow… I just want to be left alone. Too much excitement for an old man to comprehend!

I had only touched the pillow when a loud thud sounded like someone closing a book. Opening my eyes I lay on the floor in a large dark room. Sitting up I found myself in the local library. The shelves and chairs all standing perfectly aligned down the wide corridor. It couldn’t be anywhere else… fucking hell I want to sleep. Every fucking time I try to sleep I wake up somewhere completely stupid feeling even worse than before. No people threatened me this time but this is still bullshit. “BULLSHIT” I yelled in frustration as I got up pulling myself up the shelves.

When I got halfway to my feet I saw it… or them… the book, or books? All the books in the shelves had a black and wet cover. I got to my feet in a hurry and stumbled backwards, looking around at the other dimly lit shelves. They were all black and the shelves were dripping with water. A terrifying image resurfaced as I looked at the books, about a hand inside it grabbing me.

This is impossible. There are nobody left in this town, who would have changed all the books to this dreadful copy and why would they even consider storing so much captivating literature at the same place… I made a funny… why am I not laughing. I can hear a hollow snort coming from my nose, but I didn’t feel it. I usually reach my stomach when I laugh. Maybe my funnybone’s broken?

Thuds from behind made me twirl on the spot. I saw the kid again standing like a torch amidst the piles of black books on the table. “Get away from them… they are violent and incoherent!” I said without making an impact on the child. “We have spoken before, I know you aren’t mute!” I said but the kid ignored me.

I stepped up just in front of the kid and stared right into her face as it looked up. “You must be a girl… those eyes… are you a girl?”

The kid didn’t say anything, just staring into my eyes and then back at the book. I tried to get its attention for a minute before I noticed something being scribbled down on a parchment next to the books being opened. The page was littered with 209. In several colors and every direction I saw the number 209 stand like an unanswered question.

“WHO ARE YOU” I yelled in frustration at the kid. It wasn’t deaf and did not react to me approaching. Bullshit, this is just insane and ridicules bullshit. No one have told me anything for the last couple of days or hours or years and minutes or centuries or second… have I been sleeping when I lay down, have they kidnapped me every time I looked away? My reflection stuck out for better weather, so I can’t even see if I have grown older by now! Where the hell is everybody and how come I never heard anything after the military rode across my land? I bet those bastards took all worth saving and ran away leaving me and the kid. “WHY DID THEY LEAVE YOU…? YOU DON’T EVEN LOOK LIKE YOU BELONG HERE!” I yelled and still the kid just ignored me and read on in the hazardous tomes spread around the table.

The military had a purpose taking people away; they were clearing out the place for What? Why? When? Whoop? Wool? Wonky? Wupperdahl? Wallop? And Whip cream!

My forehead is burning and all these questions are making me sick. Leaning against the table I stare opposite the girl and see that the book itself wrote 209 in large letters. The kid looked up at me and then at the book. Pointing at the tome for a second and I nodded and it turned the book around… my name… the 209 had changed like it had with the other one in that dark place. Shifting like small building bricks the 209 changed into my name and address. Not the old owner which they had asked about, but mine?

The kid stared at the book from the other side and let out a great squeal that left no doubt that it was a girl with an ugly boy haircut. ”двести девять” she said pointing at the book.

“What?” I said completely thrown back at the sound of her voice. “двести девять” she repeated closing the book and picked it up. I took the book away from her knowing it would harm her in a minute and she yelled at me in an incomprehensible language. I threw the book over the shelves into the darkness and she was about to follow it when a crash made the room shiver. It couldn’t be that book! It was of stone but I could throw it so it wouldn’t make the floor tremble?

A light flickered in the direction I threw the book and quickly grew steadily into a red glow casting its dancing shadows along the ceiling and far walls. “Fire, get out now!” I yelled to her but she kept saying “двести девять” over and over like she was afraid to forget it.

We exited the library before we were burned alive and stood watching the flames run across the walls and onto the roof. We had not been watching the flames for long before the fire was beyond control and the more it burned the higher the flame rose, turning grey… I rubbed my eyes for a moment but they were grey now. The warmth had faded and the noise vanished like the wind. The girl tugged in my shirt as I leaned against her to save my leg the agony of my weight. “двести девять” she said staring into my eyes again.

“What are you saying? I cannot understand you little ugly haircut girl! You are speaking in tongues are you sure you are not retarded and lost from the group?” I asked completely ignorant of the level of insult I just hammered into the face of a child.

She blinked but didn’t reply at first. She looked around for something to write on, but when nothing had presented itself she pulled up her sleeve on her left arm and revealed the number “209” written as a scar into her skin. “двести девять” she repeated pointing at the scar.

“Do you want to find something with 209 written on it little retarded haircut?” I asked watching her point and nod at the scar. “209?” I said pointing at the scar obviously brightening her day. “You are really something aren’t you?” Poor girl… completely bonkers and nobody to put her out of her misery!

Where the hell had I seen that before? A thousand things had happened to me recently, would I ever remember the stupid number. It wasn’t my house number although she had somehow found it in the book. Did we see the same thing when we read the book? She recognized the 209 but if she can’t speak English, what makes her able to understand the writing?

Well numbers are a universal language… maybe I should sing a lullaby to her in binary while I put a bag over her ugly hair and all the way down over the neck and wait for this stupid problem to go away. No that would be a waste of my time… and hers I guess. “Would you mind if I choked you with a bag because you’re ugly?” I asked but she ignored me darting around the street to search for something that could lead us on our way… or an escape route from someone as horrible as me… or a weapon to pummel me with… or maybe she was looking for a bag I could use. You should never underestimate the friendliness of a stranger in need.

Strangers… the convoy… strangers invading my privacy. My fields… the mountain! That is where I saw that stupid number. “Are you going to the mountain too; little mentally challenged kid?” I asked her. She clearly didn’t understand what the hell I was talking about but the tone in my voice had caught her attention and she followed me out down the street towards my home. We reached my porch at night time. The walk through town had been rough and long. I had no further motivation to follow her to the mountain and stepped out next to my residence and pointed towards the mountain. I pointed at her arm and at the mountain a few times before she understood that she was to go that way. She started trotting into the field when I turned on the porch and went back inside. I was thinking about my sink again and walked with some difficulty into the kitchen. Opening the tap I watched the brown water turn clear before I drank. The gulps of cold water were like jolts down my body giving me a wild urge to take a piss. Standing up I turned around to find the girl stare at me. The girlish scream I let out wasn’t one of my finer moments but I regained my format quickly and urged the girl outside. I pointed at the mountains again and walked inside but that little brat followed me. I couldn’t shut her out since my door was on the brink of retirement and I couldn’t get myself to slam it so it fell off. There were only unemployed walls in the city and I needed that hole in the wall to get outside.

“Are you afraid of the dark little ghoul? Well just take a flashlight with your and keep lighting your face and it will be day about ten feet down the path.” I said throwing her a flashlight. She turned it on and off a few times and looked at me impatiently. “Yeah I am not going with you into the darkness, I think I would die of fright if you turned around and accidently lit your own face!”

On the second hand, I think I have a hunting rifle hidden in the rafters upstairs, maybe if we walked into the night I could make the world a prettier place… well here’s for hoping!

I walked upstairs to get my double barreled and a pocket of slugs. “I would reckon about 77 point blank shots would make you the prettiest little darling in all of Alaska.” This isn’t saying much for the previous population… damn!

I followed her into the fields and took the lead towards those pesky mountains again. This time I would be ready for them. These slugs would rip a cow from ass to nose; I would like to see them get out of these unharmed, those bureaucratic bastards and stuffed up imbeciles. You are going to regret taking a chunk out of my leg and hammering me on my head. You will regret kidnapping me and pulling around the town… you will… hey we are here?

This trip went faster than last time, and I was on foot? Had I really been arguing with myself for that long? We came to the fence again and walked inside by the caution sign, ignoring every sense of stealth as I blew the door handle off, nearly ripping the door off its hinges. Pushing inside the girl behind me, I hope… I really don’t want to turn around to find her lighting her own face. We ventured down the hallway and into the depth of the mountain. When we came to the large door it stood ajar. A hole large enough to push an elephant through was open and everything inside was covered in the familiar dust. At least dust gets to see the world… rather well traveled for a budget of more dust than the traveling dust.

I beckoned the girl inside first, hoping that she would be targeted first if we ever met with any people. Walking down a set of stairs we came to a large atrium. It was completely empty but from a few tables and turned over chairs. The girl steppes into the room with the flashlight and began to search the corners and tables for information, but came back to me empty handed. I was more curious about the lack of triggers and bludgeoning. Nobody seemed to have lived here for ages, but it wasn’t more than a few days ago… or a day ago I got shot in the hallway. Have the desertion something with my gun jamming the door? Have I rendered this place inhospitable? It seems so… but what could have made them so afraid that they had to be here and then leave when such a small detail had interrupted their plans?

I had been staring at the girl for a while when she came back pointing the flashlight into the hallway beyond the atrium. We walked down the hall discovering that the place had several levels. A large sign at the stairway showed five levels to move about, and we were on the fourth. A letter was pinned to the sign marked “To whom this must concern.”

Picking up the letter I got my cowlicked connoisseur to shed some light on the paper. “Two whom this must concern. He is locked up in the basement. This place is evil. We haven’t been here for two days and half the people are already gone missing. I fear that we have been lured into a trap. Get out while you can, he is locked up in the basement.”

Well it wasn’t that enlightening and no matter who they had placed in the basement I had 77 slugs to fill him with. If he could walk after that he ought to have the chance to catch me. I have survived for this long, why not until tomorrow too?

Packing up the note I walked down the stairs one step at a time. The girl had sudden gone stiff. “We are alone here, nothing is going to harm you… can you hear anything other than my voice? Your haircut is the worst thing hiding in this place anyways…”

A thud like the books from the library rang from the lower levels and we both froze in our tracks. Two steps up I grabbed her arm and pulled her with me down the stairs and backed up in a corner carefully examining everything I could get the cone to illuminate. Nothing stirred anymore and I drew up the courage to go further down into the lower levels. I had a hard time dragging the girl along as I was trying to hold my gun in the left hand while dragging her lighting arms along with the right while she struggled against me.

Down we went from level to level until we came to a subbasement. I got the feeling that we were under the advertised schematics but the letter had clearly stated that he was in the basement. If I could find him I would have someone who could tell me something and if he was armed I would have a little satisfying target practice. As we descended the last couple of stairs it all became dangerously familiar.

I wasn’t sure that I hadn’t set foot in this place before and instincts told me to look to my right as we came into the long hallway of various open rooms. In the back of the room a body lie on the floor, face down… or face off? Walking closer we noticed that the head was missing? It felt weird, the body was torched beyond recognition but it was clearly missing a head. Nothing else was visible at that point. The girl was clearly in panic now, as something had killed off a person and decapitated it… maybe not in that order.

I stumbled backwards as the memory came back to me. It had felt like a bad dream, but at this spot with a book… with THAT book!

I let go of her without noticing and started searching around for the book. I took the flashlight from her and she began screaming incoherently trying to get it back. The noise echoed down the hall and I had to shake her to snap her out of it. I pointed at her arm again but she shook her head and crossed her arms. Sitting down on the bed at the wall she hid her face in her hands and tried to breathe slowly while I shed light into every corner of the room for that retched tome of moving letters.

I heard her calming down as her breathing became more controlled. I turned bed sheets and table drawers to see if the book had been moved… nothing there.

I was about to walk into the next cell to see if there was something when a tiny beep came from her. Like a digital watch something beeped over and over emitting a red light from her back. Looking at her with the light she tried to hide her face from me and I thanked her for that, but that sound was menacing. Walking closer to her I saw how her entire jacket was glowing red and I fought her for a moment unzipping the jacket to see what was causing the strange noise. Pulling it up over her head I saw to my disgust that a metal box had been surgically placed halfway inside her backside. A red lamp was blinking slowly and the box emitted a beep that increase in pace for every second I went on. Pushing myself away from her I was sure she had a bomb inside her. I leapt away from her and ran around the corner into the next room waiting for the bomb to go off. Nothing again…

I listened as the beep turned to a long flat line only broken by her muffled sobs still entangled in her jacket. I threw a glance down the hall to see the countless rooms that could have the book hidden. Getting slowly back to my feet I heard her untangle herself getting to her feet and the intake of air as something like a compression rumbled in the hall for a second. A scream sounded from the room beside me, frantic and long it ripped the air… but it was muffled. Getting back into the hall I was caught by surprise by a wall where the large hole into the room had been. The girl was still inside hammering on the wall screaming in panic. I hammered back but the bricks were hard and the cement had dried, leaving the wall impenetrable without heavy machinery. I tried to calm her down knowing she couldn’t understand me when her scream became a pitch higher, piercingly shrilled for a moment until a throat choking sound made her stop abrupt and was finished by the spine curling sound of something like many twigs being cracked or a egg being crushed… a very large egg.

Everything went dead silent for a moment. I turned around and leaned against the wall silently praying for her wellbeing, I never meant anything by the things I said. She was a good girl… she did what she was told. I stopped in the track of my thoughts as I noticed that all the rooms along the hall were now bricked up like the one I leaned against. This was getting impossible… they appeared out of nothing, not even a tiny noise and boom they were just there?

A thundering rumble made the floor shake. It sounded like something was trying to push out of the rooms or cells… I am not staying here for this. Crawling up the stairs I ignored the continued rumblings that made debris fall from the walls and the dust fly from the surfaces. I pushed my way through the atrium and back upstairs, limping as fast as my leg would allow me.

As I ascended the hall and came up to the small outhouse in the mountain I pushed myself outside in the heavy wind. The sky was red as long white drops rained from the sky like water. I stood for a minute staring at them closer to earth now, the flashing light finally came. A mushroom grew in the horizon as everything dawned on me. A transmitter… she was sent to locate the facility. No one would intentionally question or harm a small girl for no reason…

I looked at the mushrooms rise next to each other in the distance. Looking down I noticed the black book in my hand. Had I always been clamping onto that?

Throwing it on the ground I looked up… would I scream?

 The book had opened on the last page as it hit the ground. Looking down I could read the thick crude lines written for no one’s amusement…

“As I stare into the flames I can see how I am going to die. Watching the waves lick the crust makes me shutter as for how far a human being is able to push itself over a ledge. Are you so desperate to preserve yourself and your stupid beliefs?”

…Ah fuck!

It was my fault, my business. I was content in my little shack. They had to drag me along and drop dead at my feet. You damn pricks! I sorted out your shit; if anyone survives that! I brought the brat and I fucking delivered! Now what?

I guess I just have to wait. In the end what have I believed in? At least the dead door had not lied to me. I guess I owe it the courtesy of not screaming…

03 Silent

03 Silent

As I stare into the flames, I can see how I am going to die. I feel sad for them now. I have never imagined this would happen. Where have the king and queen gone, there is only the burning throne left in this forsaken realm. I have wandered here for weeks now, the looming darkness creeping at my heels and now there is no place to hide.

I want to be there again. Everything is so beautiful in that place, or it was until the dark hands came from the shadow and took everyone away. It had not been the same for a long time. I still remember years ago. We were so happy back at our house. Days were warm and cozy and at night I dreamt myself into a wonderful world of knights and dragons, fighting valorously on the mountain tops for their treasure and large stock of fair maidens.

Dad and I use to make fun of the dragons, having a princess farm where they came and picked them up when a knight ran away with one of their livestock. Mom disapproves of such a silly thought. She said that the knights were unable to keep their maidens because they were always out looking for more.

I sat and watched them argue that Maidens were expensive to have and that knights were pompous cretins who only knew how to fight and yell. After they had argued they would usually stop speaking to each other for a couple of days, but they thawed quick enough.

Our house was on a lustrous ground filled with grass and trees. It wasn’t a big yard, but there was still room for a sandbox in the back for me to play in. Dads even build me a tree house where I could scout for dragons, keeping the world rid of those pesky lizards. I never had any friends. The place was sparse of children and the few around were avoiding me if possible.

It still hurts when I think about that day. It was early morning when I got up. I wanted dad to fill the pool he had bought me. There was no one in the bedroom. I searched the house for them both and found dad digging in the yard. He told me that mom had gone to town to get dinner. We were going to have my favorite.

I should have seen something was amiss. Dad promised me everything I asked him for. He had a hoarse voice as he told me that we were going inside to get pancakes for breakfast. I was happy that morning.

Inside we made them together and dad served me pancakes in the TV chair. He was shivering slightly, but I didn’t care at that time. He was probably just tired of cleaning the garden. He gave me all the pancakes, saying that he wanted to see my smiling face.

He didn’t sit in the couch like me and mom did, he took a kitchen chair and sat down beside me. We talked about my dream realm again. I had been there last night. The king and queen had told me that I could move in with them and become a knight whenever I wished. Dad told me that it would be an honor to live in a castle like that. He grinned nervously as he sat tying a knot on a hemp rope.

I still remember that smell, the rope was dry and dusty. I asked him what he was doing and said he wanted to hang something from the ceiling today.

He sat with me. He asked me about wizards in my world. He was curious if there was anyone who had some magic tomes that could help me.

I had never seen a wizard there, it was only dragons that could do magic in my world.

Dad told me about a young wizard just around my age, with a tome of wisdom. The wizard knew all the wrong things and I should not listen. By doing the opposite of the wizard I would always do the right thing is still ringing in my ears. I asked dad if he had seen the wizard before, but he never responded. He just looked at me with his stern eyes and took deep breaths.

As he got up he crawled onto the chair and asked me to smile for him.

I will never forget those 5 seconds ever again. Burned into my skull like whiplashes they bring me to my knees even years later.

I’m older now I guess. I cannot stay with the past forever and the world around me has moved on with and without me. I have tendencies to box myself in when it becomes too much, but my foster family has begun to treat me like everyone else. I am not the little silent child anymore; they have made it a routine to ask me about everything I do. I try to have quiet moments for myself and they won’t let me.

Only in my dreams am I truly alone. The blissful comfort of hearing my own thoughts are like music for me. No one asks what I am thinking about. No one demands indirectly to hear how my day has gone or how school was; here in my secret dream world I am all alone.

No one alive knows about this world of mine. The thought of keeping it a secret is like butterflies in my stomach. They don’t expect me to be happy and smile all the time, and I am not smiling unless forced in social forums. But in my bed at night I am smiling. I embrace the dark veil that hides my silent victory, an entire world of knights and dragons they will never know about!

Or so I thought…

Signs started showing up after I had turned 15. I was getting up one night to have a glass of water, when I heard someone talk in the kitchen. It was nearly 3am and everyone usually went to bed at midnight.

Moving closer I realized they were talking about me. Someone I have never heard before was talking in hushed voices with my foster parents. They were fidgeting with a voice recorder. I could barely sneak a peek at the kitchen door into the hallway without getting noticed.

I sat for minutes listening in on their conversations. First I didn’t understand what the issue was, they were talking about my parents and to some extend… me?

My senses sharpened as they mentioned murder, someone had been killed apparently and I were involved somehow.

My heart pounded and I was breathing irregularly, they were talking as if I was an object of their investigation. A mere piece in the puzzle for them to solve… feelings completely disregarded.

How were they investigating me? I have never seen anyone or talked to anyone except my foster parents?

I held my breath to hear how they discussed me and my behavior. They said I was antisocial and depressed. How I wonder what they will gain from that?

In a second they turned the recorder on and we all sat breathlessly listening to my voice? It was me! They had recorded me while I slept and to my surprise I talked in my sleep. From their rapidly increasing speed in the conversation I hear they were afraid that I would do something rash like kill myself. I never thought of that until now. I have always cursed my parents for their cowardice!

I held my breath again as the talked turned to me. They were trying to express how worried they were for my health and social abilities. They talked about a psychiatrist, but it was expensive with the medication they were giving me… WHAT?

I have never received any medication?

What is happening in this house?

My foster parents told this stranger about the hard work they had tricking me to eat antidepressants and pain killers!? How can they tell a stranger about something that sensitive? I didn’t even know they were drugging me?

It was becoming unbearable to listen too. My life was a façade with happy pills and espionage. How could my own two parents, my foster parents who are in charge of my upbringing be so cruel?

They are making me into something I am not. They are stealing my identity!

How dare they take my life away from me, it is so hard to remember the happy days with my real parents, especially when that day comes up every time I think of them.

Sitting in the hallway, I didn’t want to be there or anywhere else. I crawled slowly back to my bedroom and slipped into bed again. I searched for the tape recorder and found it in my bed frame. I turned it off and tried to fall asleep.

It was a dreamless sleep for once.

I woke up next morning when the alarm clock buzzed like a maniac. I punched it like I had always done and crawled out of bed.

Everything in the house was still calm and quiet when I walked downstairs. I stepped into the kitchen where they had been talking to that stranger last night, but everything was clean. There was no sign of anyone having been there. I opened the cupboard to see my breakfast stand alone like it had always done.

I never saw any of my “parents” eat of this. Is this one of the ways they drug me?

Closing the cupboard I took out a piece of toast instead and sat down in the living room, turning the television on. The news was usual, bad weather and the threat of terror to keep us all scared, as my foster father always complained about. There was no real reason to be scared, since even our mailman couldn’t find this remote village I live in now.

I sat quietly starring at the reports about Middle East; it hadn’t been resolved yet… like it ever would. Too many people don’t want peace there, they are just blowing the fire and it occasionally leads outside their borders in fear of being forgotten. If they would just kill themselves so we didn’t have to waste good people on their problems, even “dad” lost track of their reasons to fight. Someone gets oppressed and begs for help and rises to abuse their power before the same nation waste men and money on stopping what they started. Retards the lot of them!

I had to turn off the television; I was getting agitated watching their endless stream of misery and fake hopes hidden behind fake smiles. We only know one thing for certain in this life… so they can’t promise us shit!

I went into the kitchen to turn on the radio instead; maybe some music could change the mood? It was a fine morning. The sun was gleaming over the trees out back. I opened the backdoor and stepped outside to se e the lawn wet and the raindrops falling gently off the oak tree.

 I could vaguely hear the radio, just my luck. I had run into the nine o’clock news. The same stupid stories now without the visual media, made it worse in my head. I not only imagined what I had seen on TV, but how annoyed I felt when I saw it. Stepping inside I rummaged around the channels to find something worth listening too, but it was a mix of bad news and frustrating music.

Turning off the radio, I was getting a feeling of annoyance. I wanted something to take my mind off the world around me, but everything drew me in faster. It was mocking me and trying to destroy my good mood. They wanted me to be one of their scared masses that shook at every rustle of the wind and hid inside my house as soon as the light seemed to dim.

What is happening, what are you doing?” a voice yelled behind me. I had been so swallowed by the oppressing masses that I had not noticed my attempt to turn off the radio had led to me snapping it in two and cut my palm.

My foster mother stormed over to me like a panic-stricken chicken and pushed the radio out of my hands. She jerks me under the tap and rinsed my hands before bandaging me. She yelled at me for ten minutes straight. There was a clock on the wall over the living room door and I watched how long she could keep up her monologue or be interrupted by “dad” starting all over.

Haven’t you had your breakfast yet?” she asked when she had calmed down. I told her I wanted toast instead and she flinched for a second. Any other day I wouldn’t have noticed, but I knew better now. My guess was right on the nose, they were spiking my food with antidepressants to keep me artificially calm. I told her I was in the mood for toast and water today. I lied about my stomach feeling soar for unknown reasons, to throw her off all suspicion.

“I have some pills for stomach aches, let mom take care of that dear!” she said in her motherly voice. I reeked of panic. She retrieved two orange pills and a glass of water and told me that it would set my stomach straight.

I didn’t want to take them. She looked worried at me. I felt something was wrong, her diplomacy dyke was cracking and her smile faded slowly. She insisted in me taking the pills to help me and stopped referencing my stomach. I asked her what they were for and she kept saying “It is for your health and wellbeing!”

I still refused and kept asking me what the pills were for. Our voices were getting louder and she was getting angry. In the end we were yelling at each other and when I picked up the pills and threw them at her, she knew that I had figured it out. “Dad” had come downstairs to see what the fighting was about; he looked from me to “mom” to the pills on the floor.

“He refuses to take them, something is wrong!” she said in a scared voice.

“He will eat his medicine now!” he said grabbing me and wrestled me to the ground. I was shocked and distorted by his sudden change in behavior. Why was he attacking me like that? Struggling on the floor he and “mom” got a bottle with the pills open and he grabbed a handful.

I spat them out at him when he pushed them inside my mouth. He hit me on the side of the head stunning me for a second and I felt how his large hand pushed some inside my mouth while holding my mouth and nose until I involuntarily swallowed.

It didn’t take long before I felt a reaction. My elevated pulse and racing heart pushed the drugs through my system in minutes. He held me like a vice as I lay swirling on the floor. My fingers and toes were feeling weird.

“How many pills did you give him?” I heard “mom” ask and “dad” said bluntly “I don’t know, I just shoved them down; I didn’t see how many I had!” Their voices were starting to sound mechanical; there was a weird delay that made every sound echo in my head. I couldn’t feel my hands and legs anymore; even “dad” sitting on top of me was fading away. “He is tripping, call the doctor!” he yelled at “mom” before I passed out.

I woke up in the castle. It was dark and cold in the kitchen hall. I sat up and starred around the huge room filled with stone stoves and aches of tables to prepare the food for the vast royal assemble.

No one was there, it was empty. There were usually at least five people working at the slowest hours. Not a single noise was brought with the draft running down the stairs. I stepped up to the large stairs, where hundreds of people would run when they were making a feast for visitors of other kingdoms.

My steps echoed with every second step. I ascended the large stairway and opened the doors into the gigantic dining hall. Five hundred chairs. Half the town could eat there at the same time, but it often stood empty. The maidens hated cleaning the place up and had persuaded the king to have his meals in a smaller dining room since it would take forever to heat the hall up.

Chairs and tables were knocked over. I could barely see what was on the table in this dim light. I reached for a candle I found on the floor and searched for a way to turn it on. I remembered the fireplace, a large hole in the wall where wood was stacked high. At the side were the tin and flint I was looking. It took me a few tries to make sparks and finally got a tiny fire going in the corner of the fireplace. Lighting my candle I saw to my horror that the dining hall was covered in red and brown blood. There was not a single person or a severed limb. Only blood showed a path of terrible destruction.

I stepped around the hall to see if there was any sign of life, but not a single piece of clothes or a single nail was to be found. I found a table where someone had tried to write something in blood, but it seemed incoherent at first. “Did you see?”

On the wall someone had scribbled “Abandon…” making a long trail of blood run off the “n”, but there was still no sign of any people.

I walked past the thrones and out into the hall where large armor is used to salute everyone passing by. Nothing left. No shield, nor weapons… no armor. The long hallway was completely empty.

As I searched the castle, I kept feeling that the shadows were moving. Something was just outside my sight sliding in and out of the shadows, cast by the large furniture. In one of the bedrooms, a bed was made. It looked like someone was sleeping in it. I had to look. I didn’t want to speak out, since the shadows were following me. There was no sound at all and the lump in the bed wasn’t moving.

Slow and carefully, I stood beside the bed and pulled the sheet off revealing a black hole. The bed had a dark hole covered in blood. As I stepped back from the horrid scene, half terrified of what had happened there and half relieved not to find a corpse; I felt the air growing tense. Nothing but my footsteps echoed. I felt the shadows shiver along the walls; I heard the beating of my heart pound in my ears.

Stepping back towards the bed, feeling myself move automatically, as if the shadows themselves pushed me towards that reeking well of black and blood. It smelled of iron. My heart was racing and my stomach was suppressing my breakfast. I leaned over the bed to see if I could see anything that would answer the questions that had build in my scattered brain.

I starred for minutes into the black void without any result, it was completely silent still, my heart pounding like it was going to burst when a shrilling voice made it echo all the way down the hall, “Do not hang yourself in details… use hemp!”

Hundreds of black hands shot up at me. They had only waited for the second I was off my guard. I dropped my light and was engulfed in arms, pulling me down into the deep, ripping my hair and choking me until I passed out of exhaustion.

Was this the hands that took all the other people too?

I woke up on the dark floor. I was in one of the large cellars; I could hear the echoes of dripping water. Sitting up I felt around for anything that could be people. I wanted an explanation on the dark hands, but there was nothing.

Getting up I staggered around in the darkness for a wall or something that would indicate an edge. I found nothing.

I wandered for hours in that cold hell staring into nothingness. I thought about the times with my foster parents where they taught me that there was nothing in the darkness to be afraid off. No one can see anything in that thick darkness so it’s easier to hide than harm someone.

As the sound of my feet grew fainter I suddenly stumbled upon something on the ground. It wasn’t a person, it was something square… or close to square. I knelt down and felt a rock surface. A box, no but it could open. It was a book… a strange hard cover though, but I’m certain it was a book.

Picking up the heavy object, I ran my hands over the front and opened it to get a grasp on the paper inside. The cover was cold and hard but the paper inside was warm and slightly sticky. Closing it I felt that I needed to see this in daylight.

I started running now. It couldn’t go on forever. I know that building is big, but this was getting ridicules. I stopped after a long while; I took a deep breath and turned around so I could head back towards place I had gone. I must have gone in the wrong direction from the beginning.

The second I turned two pale eyes stood right behind me. With a shock I threw the book at them and grabbed around the throat of this dark being following me. I kept squeezing until it felt limp in my hands and I let go.

I was lucky that it had been there. I could have grabbed air. I could have misjudged my timing and it would have caught me. It caught me… out of the darkness hundreds of hands pushed me to the ground. I couldn’t see them; I could only feel how they squeezed me towards the floor. The pain was terrible… I passed out again.

Future ambitions… did I have any? What was I going to be when I grow up? Did my parents leave a legacy behind or am I truly alone?

This time I woke up in broad daylight. I was in the hospital… in a modern hospital. My arms were tied to the bed and the machine next to me was beeping immensely. Three nurses came into the room at the same time.

He is awake, what should we do now?” one of them said starring at me like a gorilla in a zoo. “Check his vital signs, we are obliged to make sure he is healthy!” the older nurse said her hands in her side.

What is going on?” I asked giving them a strained expression as they ignored me completely. It created the worst and most embarrassing silence I have ever witnessed.

His vital signs are normal, his bruises are healing fine!” the first nurse said and they left the room again as quickly as they entered.

I watched them leave and lock the door. A letter was lying in my lap… had it always been there?

I didn’t seem to remember starring at my lap until now, why didn’t the nurses react on something like that? It was a yellow parchment with a black spot on the front.

I fought against my restraints to get to the letter, but it was just out of my reach. The leather strap on my right side was a little old, withering away like musty old hemp rope. I could wrestle myself free, but it cost me some bloody bruises as my wrist got torn from the struggle.

Loosening the other strap, which was an entirely new and smooth leather strap; I grabbed the letter and pulled it open.

In my restless dreams.

I see that town.

Turn the paper over you barmpot!

I flipped the page after reading the three lines over and over… There had been a meaning there once… I guess it’s gone now?

Do you think you were born for your reason?

What did you tell dad about the wizard?

Where is my book?

She approaches children more than adults… have she given you anything?

Where is my book?

I looked up from the letter as I heard a noise. People were screaming and smoke was entering the room under the door. A yellow glow flickered in the small window in the door. Someone had set the hospital on fire… The window!

02 Turning

02 Turning

As I stare into the flames I can see how I am going to die. The irony is not lost in me standing before the blazing bonfire. Why the hell did I even come here in the first place? Is there nothing I can do that will change their minds?

I can’t even see a pattern. It doesn't make any sense! How could it become so incoherent so quickly? Whether it had started now or three weeks ago shouldn’t matter now. Clambering this nightmare is my last fleeting comfort. It isn’t affected by the heat?

I should have guessed that it couldn’t be harmed this easily, the dreadful nightmare I can’t seem to wake up from. Why can’t they just take it away from me? I don’t want it, they can have it. Oh they can have it for themselves! I want them to take it away from my white throbbing knuckles.

Please take it away…

Ever since I got entangled it has been hunting me down. I guess that it wasn’t a coincidence that I would make that news report on the Mischa residence. It was blown to pieces, but I see no reason why it was me who should have been on the scene. We were the closest crew upon the scene, just returned from a festival coverage and I was a little pissed at that point.

We had looked too deep into the bottle with some of the musicians and had finally got the chance to leave as my superior called and told us to go to that accused place. Arriving there; blinded by a warm feeling from that awful single malt I stepped out onto the street amidst a crowd of people huddled together to see the wreckage of an unknown explosion. Was it a gas pipe…? Bomb…? Stove…? Who cares about the truth, I would make it a bomb in a gas stove if I wanted too. Viewers like that kind of thing, they thrive on others misery. How pathetic that they can only accept their own mundane lives by knowing that someone else has screwed up more than they did?

I don’t even care about that anymore. You can’t stay blue-eyed in this business forever. My camera man took out his equipment, supported by the driver; literally, we shot an angle that would make me look as I stood in the wake of the accident. In hindsight I guess that the drunken and shabby report with me snorting every time I tripped over large words with S, made me feel slightly guilty and I wanted to make it up by doing some in dept journalism to learn about the person who lived in this… wreckage?

It had collapsed so I couldn’t say what kind of establishment had stood before me at that point, but while my driver packed up the camera and microphone and my camera man had darted for a neighbor to borrow the bathroom, I watched the salvage team dig up some of the remains that hadn’t been ripped apart or burned beyond recognition.

I waited for them to take out something that could indicate what kind of person he was, but it seemed that the house had burned for a while and had mainly consisted of either wood or paper. There was nearly nothing left at all.

I had given up staring at them at first. They had dug around for half an hour, picking up metal hinges and melted plastic. I was talking with the startled neighbor who sat by an ambulance staring at the rubble. She told me that he had lived a normal “boring” life. Not the sharpest man she ever met, that was an old man down at Arizona. He was called Pete. I was so happy to learn that from her, but my sarcasm would limit the information and I went with her off branched saga into normal life busywork that stole a whole hour of my life. I WANT THAT HOUR BACK WOMAN!

(Maybe they would understand that they had to delay this for an hour to pay tribute to my purpose in this life. No… He would probably just say that they already done that and be on with his hazed babble once more. God he has talked for hours now. How much crap before something happens?)

I shouldn’t joke with this, they are trying to kill me. Asking if I did it myself just to be rid of his incisive gibberish would just anger them further!

None the less, that woman robbed me of sparse time, although I never would have known by then. I was sure I would have a rich full life, sitting on the French Riviera drinking merlot and playing cards with Fernando or someone else that could tickle my fancy in my seventies.

She came to a sudden halt like her train of thought had run over a cliff, sadly without her in it… and told me that he had been acting very strange yesterday. She had received his newspaper by the paperboy. Since he thought the occupant was dead or the place deserted he had chosen to hand her the newspaper instead. She had of course read it like anyone would and went to her neighbor to hand him the paper, sharing the concern of the paperboy.

Apparently he was home and half naked. He stood in the doorway in an open robe with nothing under and starred at her. He looked tired and confused according to her description and took the paper closing his door without a word. She went around the house to see if he was okay, but discarded it when she noticed him make breakfast. He would be fine if he just ate something.

Shortly after she returned to her house, she saw through her living room window that he had left his house in a great pace, still in his robe. It was not her business to meddle she said and I had a hard time concealing my derision of her personality.

It was about that time the scavenger crew made a discovery. They had found something disturbing in the ruins and were running around looking for a cell phone. What a bunch of amateurs. I saw my chance to get an insight on the matter and offered my phone and expertise by calling the local police department. I got a hold of an old friend of mine who were officer at that bland building.

The crew had a field day. They acted like they had found the ark. Keeping the place sealed off they pushed everyone and everything away to conceal the discovery. They even had what looked like an intern chasing off birds that landed near the scene.

They thought they were smart. Although I had helped them they knew me. They refused my entrance to what they suddenly called a crime scene. Something was fishy and I knew what to do, or what had to be done which I did actually. You learn to cover your ass prematurely in this business. Even if they didn’t let me see their discovery, the police station would take any evidence of their findings since it had become a crime apparently. I would just talk to my friend and have all the solo access I could dream off.

Although I would have lived without it; looking in hindsight!

It was night when I reached the police department. My friend had taken his sweet time bathing and shuffling around the place so he could let me inside. I had met him in the lobby and talked like I was complaining about a neighbor. He had shown me downstairs to an interrogation room where we could have some peace and quiet. The place was sparse staffed at that time of night and we could talk for hours without being interrupted.

We both knew the risks involved with looking at evidence, but he knew me well enough to know that I would never tell anyone about our relationship. He was an old friend of a college friend, so there was no obvious connection since our short fling had no physical evidences and we chose to stay friends after that, exchanging information across the red line. He solved mysteries that they couldn’t afford to finance or didn’t have a clue about and I got first hand information in crimes that I could broadcast for my news network.

Maybe that was the reason I didn’t get fired, reporting drunk with no manners to hide it for the audience. My boss had growled and said something under his breath I didn’t hear and thrown me out of his office with a warning that felt like a hard spanking. I could have send him a bottle of scotch, but it was too late and the sentiment would not have gone down well due to the nature of my warning.

We talked back and forth in that cold room for hours. My dear friend was more interested in how I had been doing than the actual case. He was reluctant to speak about it. Something in their discovery had made him squeamish and he tried to divert from the subject several times. Finally I asked him to show me the evidence. He refused at first appealing to my gender and told me that I wouldn’t like to see them.

I was angry that he pulled that card and chastised him accordingly. He buckled and showed me downstairs, into the vault where they had placed the evidence on a large white sheet so it could be photographed for investigation in the morning.

Going down the concrete stairs I felt that we crossed that invisible border of sea level and everything became quiet and heavy. My breathing was loud and every step echoed in the hall like a drum.

Our steps became synchronized as we approached the metal door; he picked out a bundle and found a large key opening the metal door. It made a small clang that echoed shortly and died in the creak as the door opened.

He refused to go with me inside, saying that he wanted to eat when he got home and didn’t want to spoil his appetite again. I entered the room with the notion that I had half an hour top. If I could get the pictures done in minutes it would be lovely.

I entered the vaguely lit room. Blue lamps turned on as I hit the light switch and the white sheet came into sight immediately. A large white sheet had been spread out over the floor where black rubble laid spread evenly for the investigators. It was scrap metal and a fire poker mostly. A half burned picture of an orange meadow with a burned down tree. It could have been burned in the current fire, but that would have been too coincidental to make sense.

Something caught my eye. A pile of paper was lying between two rocks. Were they rocks? I doubt that they would place similar rocks on each side just to keep a burned pile of paper from flying around.

As I touched the book a loud snap rang in the room. My friend could hear it and asked me what I was doing in here. I told him that I was looking in the book and he sounded gutted by the sentence. “You didn’t remove the body from it did you?” he asked through the small hatch in the door.

I didn’t see anything that resembled a body, making his next comment colder than I expected. “What have you done to the charred child clutching the papers?” he asked making me drop the papers immediately.

There never were any body I explained to him, but he didn’t believe me. He told me the reason it had become a crime in the first place was because they had found a child’s body burned beyond recognition clutching what looked like a crude book under the rubble in what they guessed were the fireplace.

I looked around the room, but there was no sign of bones or bodies. Only some charred metal and the picture with the tree. I told him that they may have pried the body off it for forensic investigation and he didn’t argue.

I left the book alone for a moment. Looking at the other evidence my head began dreaming up reasons for someone to kill a child holding a book. There was no logical explanation and I discarded Mischa for being psychotic for the time being.

It didn’t take me long to return to the book. I couldn’t resist it although the morbid thought of a child holding it was keeping me from doing anything but push the stone aside. The front page was filled with incoherent letters and ink stains that made the obscure text even harder to conceive. Exillion?

I tried to read on about the world and its dark places. How man should become God and create himself, how everything we did was for preserving ourselves. I had been so swallowed by the text that I hardly heard my friend call from outside the door. “What are you doing? The lights are going out?” he called sounding cold and slightly scared.

I told him it was a power surge and that he was a big baby, being scared of the dark. He said that his flashlight was not working, it was lit but it didn’t penetrate the darkness slowly moving closer.

I didn’t understand what he meant by that and he explained in a chilling voice that the lights along the hall was going out one by one.

“Open the door, OPEN THE DOOR!” I yelled to him, but his whimpering made it impossible to communicate with him. I got up and was about to run towards the door when the page I had been reading was turning black from the center and out near the edges.

Staring transfixed at the spot, I was unable to move from my spot and saw how two small white dots appeared inside the back page. Kneeling down I could hear him fall against the door and I looked closer at the dots feeling they grew on me. Reaching out to touch them I hesitated; listening to his whimper turning to a cry. Something was overwhelming him, but he didn’t sound like he was in mortal danger.

A third spot appeared after I watched the page for a minute. I felt like I could grab them like a bowling ball and as my fingers touched the surface of the paper, he screamed like a madman and shots were fired in the hall.

I looked up at the flashes coming through the hatch and then back down at the page where my three fingers had penetrated the pages. I withdrew my hand in shock and a crunching sound echoed vaguely in the hall. Everything turned quiet for a second and looking from the door to the page felt like ages. Staring down I saw to my horror that I had pulled a skull half way through the page.

Like a low screeching, a hoarse inhale builds in my throat. A pounding in my chest send shivers through my body as I involuntarily screamed while jumping backwards from the book.

I hit something as I flung myself backwards, but I never really found out what it was. Something struck me in the back of the head and I collapsed on the floor facing the door where a small puddle had gathered from the blood running down the hatch.

In my dream I had stared down the hallway.

I was alone.

I didn’t want to be alone.

Please… it hurts.

Waking up from the nightmare was just as bad. I had been brought to the hospital for intensive care. As I sat up I felt my entire body fight against me. My spine crippled my movements and a throbbing in my forehead made me fall back in bed like a log. The noise had woken someone. A guard stood up and rounded on me like a pit-bull. He talked rapidly like he was afraid that someone should interrupt us and started telling me off for killing an officer and tampering with evidence.

I wasn’t able to respond him, my head throbbing fiercely. I had to endure him for a couple of minutes before a doctor and two nurses stopped him and threw him out of the room. They assured me that they didn’t hold me responsible for the accusations and the fear of malpractice due to corruption didn’t enter my mind before they mention it indirectly. I was relieved to hear that I only had a minor head trauma and was released two days later into a crowd of reporters wanting to know everything I had ever eaten and why the burned building had caught my interest in the first place.

Knowing how they would twist everything I said, I told them that I was not there and they must have been tipped off by someone stupid.

I didn’t care that I offended a lot of people at that point. I just wanted to get away and was escorted by the police into a car driving off.

They took me back to the interrogation room I had willingly been sitting in two days ago. I entered the room with an ominous sense that I was being watched. Maybe the large glass along the wall was a hint, or the seven police officers standing behind the chief of police. I was pushed into a chair, roughly and was told to shut up.

The chief talked in a strained, but wholesome manner and addressed me as madam… at first. He asked me what I was doing in the evidence room that night and how I avoided getting shot by the officer I had killed. I tried to tell him I wasn’t the person he was shooting at and that I had known him well. I even told the chief about our short affair which didn’t last due to his wife knowing about it and nearly destroyed their relationship.

After that heartwarming story he changed tone. Now I wasn’t being looked in the eyes and the accusations rained over me like bullets. I had killed him in a love rage. I had seduced him to get into the evidence room and disposed of him as I saw fit. I was a cruel monster that would mutilate my victims in the most horrible way. They didn’t tell me how he died and refused to tell me when I asked.

I ought to know how I killed him. I was there, were their usual excuse, now having four men yelling at me. I was there for four hours before the chief had enough. He rose from the chair and everyone went quiet. “If you don’t recall how you killed him, then answer these questions instead. Where are his keys and where is the body with the book?”

I told them he had his keys and let me inside, not wanting to see something specific in there. I never saw any body and only found the book. Was the book missing?

The chief didn’t answer me straight, but I could sense that the book was gone. Had the killer who slew my friend taken it?

We were all getting tired from that long interrogation and the chief kept coming back to the point of me brutally killing my friend. He was on the edge of exploding when it knocked on the door. A small police officer came inside dropping a thick file on the table and left just as quickly. The chief sat down and opened the folder. He concealed the papers from me, but I could see in his face that he was disgusted to the brink of vomiting.

“Never have I seen such brutality. And he was alive when you did this to him?” the chief asked as he dropped the file in front of me showing me four pictures of a faceless body.

It was too much to bear. Watching the pictures made me sick again. I could feel the food I had been served in the hospital was trying to come up. Even my stomach wanted to erase those horrid pictures. I couldn’t take my eyes off them as they lay there like a macabre display. Was it a madman’s triumph or nightmares? The pictures displayed a body slump against a door, head resting against the hatch. The police uniform was drenched in blood and where a face should have been was a red and black hole.

To my utmost disgust it wasn’t decapitated, but face and skull was ripped out, leaving everything else from ears to hair on the hollow skin cap. One of the pictures showed that the skull was snapped just above Atlas, leaving the cervical spine connected with the rest of the body.

That meant it was a fierce strength that had destroyed him, I was trying to see it reasonably but succumb to vomiting on the floor as the feelings swelled up in me.

“What is your connection to the burned down house? Why did you want to get rid of the body in the evidence room Amrit Johar?” the chief said making me look up at him confused and slightly dazed?

Apparently he learned something new from that file and I pried my eyes off the pictures to see that they had been at my house retrieving a letter with my address, but the name was all wrong. I couldn’t convince him that I wasn’t this Amrit person and he told me that they had found proof that I was packing up and leaving for a small town in northern Utah.

I had never heard such preposterous claims, but they had pictures of it all. How my house was ransacked and clothes shoved into bags, clumsily forced into the trunk of my car.

“Thankful” for the generous chief of police I didn’t have long to think about my averted destiny. He removed the pictures from my sight and came up with my entire testimony, about the motive of murder. Mind numbing brutality without remorse and trying to escape and live under a new alias in another state.

Dumbstruck by his statement I stared at him hand over the paperwork to an officer who left the room and didn’t return. “If you are lucky, you will be killed in your sleep tonight. I will personally make sure you are transferred to Texas for an execution within the next 40-50 years!” he stated before leaving the room with half the officers.

“Let us get her back in her cell… what state was she in when she came here guys?” an officer said behind me and another one chuckled “I think she was half dead!”

Something struck me between the shoulders. I could feel the stinging pain run down my spine as I was kicked off the chair and hit the floor with a thud. Three officers bend down over me and started beating me with their sticks. It didn’t take them ten hits to knock me unconscious and everything from there is history.

In my dream I stood in front of an officer.

I was not alone anymore.

I just want to be someone.

It hurts.

I woke up in the back of a van. It was speeding up and tossing the turns it threw me around the floor. It took me a couple of minutes before I realized that I was in the back of the news van. My camera man Jerry was sitting in a chair holding on for dear life.

“We are getting out of here, the town is in an uproar!” he said breathlessly. He explained how they had rescued me from the hospital after I had been revived twice after aneurisms that had left me in a coma. The doctors had finally stabilized me when the boys rescued me and drug me into a wild car chase across California.

Glenn my driver had been a part of our crew for a year now. He always drove like a maniac, but this was getting out of hand. He tossed the van around the corners without slowing down and I heard several horns telling him off as we drove. I had no idea where we were heading and the way Glenn drove indicated that he only had a vague idea himself.

He drove through the night. It was dark outside as I lay staring through the milky white sunroof glass. I couldn’t get myself off the floor and holding on to anything nailed down, gave me a sense of security. My body was slowly responding again after a couple of hours. I had been clung to pipes and table legs. My hands and feet were sleeping, and the pulsation in my chest had gone from painful throbbing to a vague pounding, letting my empty stomach get the best of me.

Asking them to stop so we could get some food, didn’t go down very well at first! Being shouted down for asking a simple question when your head throbs like you are being pounced by a couch, discouraged me from asking further questions. Staring through the sunroof didn’t give me any sensation of time and it didn’t take me long before I lost track of everything around me.

It surprised me how long it took me to think about all the things I lost. I was more interested at the moment in why I didn’t feel sorrow leaving everything behind. Well I didn’t have anyone, any boyfriend or kids and my family could go fuck themselves if that is what they want. My only relations were work and that might be going downhill rather fast. Well since the boys are with me, maybe we can redeem ourselves and get a good story from this entire freak show?

I quickly learned that they had committed several felonies to rescue me. I had been locked up in the hospital and under surveillance of two policemen. Jerry had apparently jump in front of the officers and screamed that he stole the food he was carrying from a fat patient and hurled sandwiches in their faces until they pursued him down the hall and out into the street. Jerry had always been a good runner and I am happy to see his talent come into good use. Glenn had snuck into my room and shoved me in a wheelchair, driving out the hospital in the opposite direction and thrown me into the van before going to the meeting point to pick up Jerry.

Oh why did he throw “all” the food at them?

It wasn’t long before Glenn overruled Jerry and drove into Denny’s off Highway 80. He wasn’t happy about it at first, but looking at a map in the restaurant he saw that we had nearly crossed Nevada before taking a break. I couldn’t believe we had gotten this far in such a short time, but Glenn only laughed when I asked about his driving… psychopath, I’m surprised he didn’t kill us all.

It didn’t help that he refused to answer my questions and said he had been asleep the entire trip so he couldn’t have known.

We ordered dinner like it was Christmas and sat whispering between each other about our next move. Jerry didn’t know what to do, he hadn’t thought that far. Glenn was in it for the laugh and wanted to go home at some point, but for him it was like a crazy road trip.

I inquired from them where they had gotten my location last night. Jerry told me they had been at my place looking for me; they couldn’t understand why I had not shown up for work. Seeing that my house was broken into and destroyed in the search of valuables (they thought).

They called the police who said that there was already a report on the house and they should not worry. Luckily they did. They sought out someone Jerry didn’t want to elaborate on and was told that I had been placed in custody and later put in the hospital for assault. It was someone who knew what had happened in the police station because I couldn’t remember half the things Jerry told me, but they seemed to add up.

People starred at us as we sat there, the table covered with food. Funny thing is that we weren’t that hungry after all. Glenn and I threw the remains in the van while Jerry paid for the food and we drove off.

I had taken the wheel this time. Glenn had gotten enough excitement for one day and were sleeping in the back of the van slumped over a table that was nailed to the side of the box. Jerry was looking at a road map and didn’t speak for an hour. The darkening light and the empty road gave me time to think. I had been trying to remember the case and what had happened, but my head kept throbbing and I just couldn’t recall the name the police chief had called me.

It had something to do with Utah, he said I was fleeing and that would be a good place to start as any. Jerry noticed my choices and showed me the chart Glenn had taken from the bedpost as he escaped with me. Amrit Johar? It sounds so fake! Why would anyone suspect me from being anything but local? Who knows? Who cares? Maybe that name was an anagram? Someone had placed a secret message for me? Jerry looked at it for a while and didn’t come up with anything that could lead us closer to the person addressing me like this in that unknown letter.

As we entered Utah, we drove to a small town and located a payphone. I rummaged through the phonebook to see if there was anyone with that name. As I came to J I found the A. Johar I was looking for and pulled the page out of the book, jumping back in the van.

One person in all of this state and she apparently lived up northeast, a small town in the middle of nowhere. A small town called Duchesne.

Jerry pointed the way and it had become day before we reached our dusty destination. It was scorching hot outside and for a volatile summer it had chosen to be merciless today. It took nearly an hour to find that fucking address, it was a squared grid and for some reason I kept driving in circles. Four rights make a wrong as Jerry so wittingly kept muttering under his breath. I could punch him, but I didn’t need more tension in the van right now. Glenn had woken up and after we had been at the same road three times he jumped out of the car because he needed a piss.

I was nearly at my wits end. I couldn’t take his behavior right now and chose to drive off. He didn’t seem to mind as he unloaded himself in someone front garden. If I had known that I was picking him up eight minutes later at the same house I would have run him over from the beginning.

Fourth time we came to the same house, Glenn jumped on the van with that grin that I wanted to wipe the asphalt with. “Yeah you guys are idiots. I talked to an old couple who was very interested in my ability to pee for a long time even as they watched!” he told us removing any doubt if there had been any in any KIND OF UNIVERSE OR TIME OR ALTERNATE DIMENSION that  he wasn’t our Glenn.

After trying to rip my skull open and vomit into it with his monumental stupidity and idiosyncrasy, he finally got to the phase of his one dimensional humor where he could tell us that the old couple knew the streets and we should go left at the construction work on S 300 E Street.

We came to a boarded up house in the outskirts of the city. The paint was peeling off and the wood wasn’t kosher either. The tin can of a mailbox said Johar, a reasonable claim that we had found what he were searching for. I looked around the street for any people watching us, but the scarce houses made it impossible guess if anyone saw us or even lived here anymore.

Jerry complained that something smelt wrong. It couldn’t have been the fresh country air. It had to be something else; it smelt like moss and ammonium. There weren’t any factories in view and the ground was dry as dust.

The front door was boarded and every window on the ground floor was badly covered with planks and metal plating. We went around the house to see the backyard being as desolate as the rest of the place. The backdoor had been nailed shut by planks and a wooden log had been placed across the porch making it impossible to get inside.

Jerry had been struggling with the garage for a while without luck when Glenn’s low attention span had led him into a hole near the sand box. A broken sandbox with a couple of rusted tools were placed in the back of the yard, Glenn had picked up the tools out of childish interest and noticed a piece of rope going into the ground, hidden next to the wooden frame.

We pulled the rope and found what we thought were a tornado cellar at first. Crawling down into the darkness we found a long black tunnel going towards the house. An ominous feeling was rising as we walked further into the ground and finally reached what felt like concrete sidings. The path had been dug crudely as the wooden frame we followed towards the house indicated. The hole in the wall was wide enough for us to enter with no effort and we found ourselves inside the house.

The cellar was black and no light escaped through any crack. We couldn’t see the slightest as we nearly crawled along the walls. What had been minutes down there; felt like half an hour before we reached the stairs up into the house. The stench returned as we slowly ascended the creaking stairway. We stopped a couple of times to listen if there was any movement upstairs, but not a single creak or shuffling of steps were to be heard.

Our breath was becoming synchronized as we came closer to the door. The wood beneath our feet was groaning badly and Glenn had broken a few steps on the way up, coming in rear. We reached the top and found the door locked. Jerry pushed it a few times and it gave in. We pushed a last time with a hard shoulder punch and fell into a kitchen filled with people.

In that second I only saw two things. Jerry and I vanished into a thicket, of people not touching the floor, hearing something like metal hitting the floor. Glenn had picked it up and examined it. He didn’t say anything, only a small snivel was traceable in the thick stillness. He had found…

An explosion ripped the air, deafening me. I felt the pressure as it pushed everything against the walls. Several layers of bodies were covering me as I regained consciousness. The heavy bodies, cold and partially rotten were lying on top of me. The smell was sickening and their distorted faces made me scream in fear, but I couldn’t hear my own voice. A ringing for my ears was blocking the sound. Have I gone deaf from the explosion?

Kicking my way out of the meat mountain I found Jerry unconscious on the ground next to the pile I had been buried under. This place reeked of decay. The rotting bodies weren’t processed in any way and the dried spots on the floor indicated that some of them weren’t dead before they were hung here.

I watched the hole in the wall created by the explosion. It wasn’t very large. Some of the bodies strung next to it were thrown into the front lawn. God I hoped someone heard that, I wasn’t able to move.

The bodies were swaying from the explosion and I could see hung bodies everywhere. Was the entire house filled with bodies? It looked like a three store house with garage from the outside, there could be hundreds? The thought of being forced in there between all those distorted faces; knowing that it would go the same way every time made me scream again.

I couldn’t control myself. My body was shivering and my hands trembling as I watched how their swaying made it look like a zombie army chasing me. I had collapsed beside Jerry, unable to do anything when someone stood over me. I saw an old brown skirt and a silvery candlestick hover in my peripheral view. I looked up at a green blouse. It looked pale and worn in the vague light from hole in the wall.

I never got to see any face. The candlestick struck me on the side of my already heavily damaged head and I blacked out.

In my dream I reached out for the officer.

He was not alone anymore.

I just wanted him to be alone.

It hurts.

Waking up for the third time after a head trauma; had limited my movements. I didn’t feel crippled, but I stayed still. I was looking up at a wooden ceiling, shabby construction, smelling like chlorine.

Someone was sitting next to me, watching like it was a mystery how someone could wake up after a blackout. I looked up at an old woman’s face. She had been sitting next to me changing wet pieces of cloth on my forehead.

She didn’t tell me where I was or how I had come to be her guest. It took me a while before I could move properly. Again my body was rejecting my desire to move. It hurt in every crevice and I could barely sit up and drink when she handed me a pitch of grey water.

It tasted like dirt, retched and vile. Lucky for her I was dehydrated or I would have spat it in her face.

 Slipping out of the bed proved to be a spelunking adventure of dimension. I grabbed everything sturdy to hoist myself. The woman shook her head, but I ignored her and shuffled out of the hut to see where I had been taken.

Stepping into the evening sun I saw a small village with barely fifteen houses. Most of them were as small as this one and only four of them were of normal house size, I guess. People were looking ominous as I stepped into the street. They stared at me. Their deformed shapes and large beards were mocking me, they didn’t move as I stumbled over next to a small well in the middle of the street.

Everyone had stopped now. Starring at the tourist attraction, had circus come to town you freaks?

No one moved. Everyone stood still in the middle of their work or conversation. They looked like statues. If it wasn’t for some of the men spitting what I guessed was tobacco a few times, I would have guessed they were as dead as in that insane house. Why don’t they go back to their own business, stop looking at me?

Sliding down beside the well I felt how my bones were creaking, my heart was racing and I didn’t want to move from that particular spot. The old lady had stepped out on her porch and watched me sit slump against the stone. Shaking her head again she walked inside again leaving me to my misery.

An old man had summed up the courage to walk over to me. He didn’t say anything; he just stared at me mouthing something inconceivable and dropped a large jug by my feet.

I watched him walk away unable to sanctify his gesture. Reaching for the bottle was troublesome; it felt like my entire body wished to align itself with the ground. I felt heavy and my shoulders were sending shocking pain down my arms when I clutched the jug.

I looked inside for confirmation that there was something consumable and pushed the jugs to my lips in the blind hope that it was less putrid than that awful water earlier. At first my mouth felt like it was on fire. My tongue grew numb and coughing violently I felt my body being torn as my lungs contracted.

The caustic swill was spreading in my body, a warmth different from the sun filled me and I calmed down. Wasn’t it getting dark earlier? I am pretty sure that I was out in the twilight a moment ago?

Everyone was gone! I sat in the dusty street feeling the warm sun sizzle my skin. Getting to my feet I stumble back into the house or hut or wigwam or whatever it’s called when you throw planks at a rotten tree and nail anything that has contact with anything.

There was nobody. The old woman was gone. I went next door and still no one home. The entire place was empty and awfully dry. Passing the houses I saw their sparse decoration and rusted furniture. It was a sight for sore eyes and mine were the sorest. It hadn’t been long before the sun started to set, I couldn’t seem to tell the time here. Everything went so fast. The open spaces were vast and desolate. Any attempt to call for anyone was drowned in the pressing silence that place created. Even the wind was absent. No birds chirped in the… the trees were rotten too, strange?

Had they been rotten all the time? I had not stared at them before, they could have been and why should I even care? The sun sank over the mountains and as darkness came, the small lights in the houses were turned on. I had been busy starring into the mountains and been completely ignorant that people had started coming out of their houses.

Where had they been? I was in them earlier and there was not a soul?

None of them said anything. I was a little prepared this time. It didn’t startle me as much and I stepped over to the nearest pedestrian asking him where I was, but he just turned around and walked away.

I turned to see that other people had moved closer, but stood completely still starring at me as I turn towards them. I walked over to them and yet again they turned away from me and left.

Finally I gave up. My tongue was getting swollen and I was getting dizzy from the lack of proper water. I stared down at the jug, getting the idea that it couldn’t hurt as much second time when I was prepared for the burning sensation.

I knelt down and placed the jug at my lips. It felt warm as I tipped that volatile grog down my throat. Once again I felt the burning rush, but at least I didn’t cough. A tiny beeping sound throbbed in my ear. It was the first thing I heard in what felt like ages. I guessed it was only my head playing tricks, but it was a welcome mirage in this menagerie. The warmth spread equally around my body and it didn’t take minutes before I felt the scorching sun on my back again. I opened my eyes and saw that I had turned day again. How could that be possible? Was that toxic mixture leaving me unconscious for the entire night?

I don’t remember moving from this spot and my knees are still hard on the ground. I looked up to see the familiar desolate ghost town. It couldn’t be possible for them to hide in those dilapidated and derelict establishments. I felt my strength grow and I stepped into the nearest house again, tearing it apart. I threw furniture and loose planks around like a tornado in mating season, but I never found a single person.

Evening was approaching like an express train; the sun looked like a ball pushed off a table as it sank behind the mountain. I quickly ran inside one of the larger houses to see where the people came from, but nothing lit in the house. All the other houses had a small yellow light, turning on one by one.

I stepped into the street again and saw to my horror that the house I left had lights too and people stood on the porch looking at me. It was getting too much to bear. I tried to run towards a man in the street. I wanted to grab him. I needed to make sure he didn’t just go away.

My vision became blurred as I tried to run. My head betrayed me and as I stopped to regain my balance, the man had gone. Enraged with their reluctance to help me I wanted to scream at them, but nothing came out? Not a single word? My mouth was dry and my throat was clogged. I felt the thirst again, but I didn’t want to drink their radioactive waste again. It was messing with my head and they were just softening me up for something. What was their plan with me?

They could do anything with me in my drunken state. If I was unconscious for nearly a day, they had plenty of time to do any sorts of cruelty against my body! Had they already done it?

I reached around my body to see if anything was bruised or cut open, but nothing noticeable. Stepping backwards from the closest people I noticed they were closing in on me again from behind. Every time I turned around they were a few steps closer.

What happened if they grabbed me from behind? Were they only going to hurt me if I was awake to feel it? Was their idea of torture only physical? I stepped backwards and came back to the well. I needed my back against something and that was as good as any. Coming closerl every time I turned around made me think of the desperate move. If I drank from the bottle they would disappear. I grabbed the jug and quickly took a sip from that biochemical disaster and fell to my knees clutching my stomach. It was burning furiously in my body. I felt every inch of me being warm and sweaty. It overwhelmed me for a moment and stopped just as instantly as it had begun.

Opening my eyes I saw the guarding daylight. I was saved. I saw the jug had survived the drop and stood carelessly beside my contorted body. Getting to my feet was proven to be troublesome; though achievable in the nearest future.

Eventually I got up. The merciless sun made me schizophrenic. It was my savior, but it tried to boil me relentlessly. I couldn’t take much more of it and tried to stagger into the shade. To my horror the sun was about to settle yet again and I didn’t want to face those bloody judgmental pricks again.

Limping outside; grabbing the jug I drank and I didn’t stop. The nuclear waste was bringing me to my knees. It tasted like blood, a thick scent of spirit rose from the bottle. It had an after taste of metal, but I barely noticed it as I only caught my breath to drink some more. This time I must be freed from their hollow eyes. I can’t stand starring into their neutral faces, silently judging me with their baggy eyes and dark hair. They looked like something from a gothic horror… this time the jug didn’t survive the fall. I heard it crash beside me.

Falling backwards I felt the well against my hip as I fell. Did I go beside it? I stood in a white hall. It was brightly lit and warm. Someone sat at the end; I couldn’t make out who it was. I felt the desire to know who that was.

Walking closer was painful and slow. The white hall was growing slightly longer as I stumbled along.

It was a person at the end. Sitting with a large book, a boy was drawing in it. He was enjoying himself and laughing as he drew on several pages. It wasn’t long before he noticed me. He sat quietly staring at me as I came closer. He might have been shortsighted. He was squinting as he starred down the hall towards me. “What are you doing? The lights are going out?” he said and looking behind me I saw how the white light had turned grey. Was it going to be night again? I didn’t want the lights to go out, the nasty eyes would return. I hurried along as fast as my bruised legs could carry me, but the darkness grew around me.

“Please stop what you are doing, the light is slowly going out!” he cried. This time it wasn’t a boy. He had grown up. The darkness had turned him into one of them. That cursed face. That taunting stare was mocking me, it was penetrating my body. It was making me feel like a little girl. I stood helpless against his overpowering presence. His being was enveloping me and erasing my body from this cruel world. Nothing had changed since I was young. Nothing had progressed in years. I felt like that small insecure child that everyone felt pity upon. I wanted to show them all that I was resolute and coherent, but they felt sorry for me. They all took pity on me and I never found an equal I could talk too.

I hated him. I hated his guts! How could he stand there blaming me for bring that darkness which turned him into an empathic ghost. Never challenging me, no one challenged me! They just nodded and took pity on this weak little child.

I’ll show them. I will show them all!

Picking up the book the boy had drawn in; drums rang seven times like a victory march! I slammed it around his face. The bloodcurdling scream was satisfying. It wasn’t me this time. It wasn’t my weak body giving in. He was weak and pitiful not me. Not this time. I had triumphed and he would be the pitiful crippled child that everyone would feel sorry for and talk down too!

My cry of triumph was loud. I screamed like a maniac. Roaring with fierce victory I was ready to teabag his stupid face, but I was not in the dark hall anymore. I blinked as a stabbing pain in my chest made me let go of the book.

“What did you do doctor?”

Everything around me was a blur.

“Nothing? I did that same as the other three times?”

My eyes felt like they had been rubbed with steel wool.

“Two weeks. She finally woke up. Please notify the parents.”

I slowly regained my eyesight and saw that I was in a small white room.

“Look at me. Can you hear me?”

Someone was touching me. It felt strange and alienated. I shuttered and he let go of me.

“Can you speak? How many fingers do I hold up?”

I muttered that he had three fingers up and I saw a man in a white coat clap his hands with delight.

“Welcome back!”

I didn’t know what I could say to such a statement, but every second of the last couple of days was imprinted in my mind. I loathe his voice. He was smiling to me; his tired eyes resembled those of the villagers. It wasn’t for me he was cheering. It was for his achievement.

“How are you feeling?”

He asked too many questions. I took a moment before seeing the room. It was familiar, depressing and soul draining. I asked him for the book, but he didn’t know about any literature that was brought during my coma.

I assured him that I was a news reporter and were uncovering a story about a death of a young girl holding that particular book.

He shook his head. He went into a long rant about dreams and how my sub-consciousness had given up on me, projecting it that way. I told him about the travel I had made and the house of the hung. I told him that I had been accused of killing an officer and being brutally beaten before rescued and taken into the unknown by my crew.

He assured me there was no news reporter. There was no crew. Nobody had ever seen or heard about that house or that village, but when I told him about the moonshine they had given me, he turned slightly pale. He didn’t elaborate, but something was wrong.

The nurse returned after a long embarrassing silence and told us that my parents were on their way. I could barely remember them. It was so many years since I had seen them. They were the cruel bastards who had left me here… left me at this place… this…

Everything came back like a swim in syrup; hard, slow and disgusting. I had been put in a sanitarium. My body was fragile and my “so called beloved” parents had dropped me off in this hellhole three weeks ago.

The treatment here was torment as best. Forcing us medication and taking advantage of our weakened nature. We were not allowed to speak with the others. We were kept in separate rooms, and any attempt to communicate during school sessions were punished with beatings. Some of the other children had not survived some of the beatings. Their bodies were taken into a shed in the back of the field and we never saw them again. Most of us had a small window facing that side of the yards, but they were far too small to get any good view through.

I had been reminiscing for too long at this point. The oversized nurse had entered with a wheelchair and taken me back to my room. It was midsummer’s eve. Our parents were invited to an event to promote the sanitarium. Everyone knew it was a publicity stunt, but we couldn’t do anything about it. We were kept under sharp surveillance and any attempt to tell our parents about the violence would be soothed with an elaborate lie and a fatal beating afterwards.

We gathered outside that evening to watch the sun go down over the hills. They had placed a large bonfire in the middle of the fields a bit away from the buildings. We were all gathered for the big ceremony and felt threatened to smile for our parent’s sake.

The voluptuous vulture stands in the middle of the crowd. The head of the institute lights the bonfire, telling the parents some sweet little lies about their wonderful torture chambers and their zombie patients, sitting in their rooms drooling. Their eyes sunken and glazed over, we see them briefly as we are shuffled past the many open doors.

He stood pompously holding a large black book. He was fiddling with it, it must have been important to him since her brought it with him. Maybe it contains secrets he does not want the world to know?

Maybe his entire world would crumble if this book was revealed and the truth forced to coexist with our world? Could he really be that pompous, standing in the middle of the parents he is lying too with the evidence that would thwart his corrupt business?

Everything he told them was lies. His knuckles were clutching the book harder the longer his rantings went on. All lies, everything he said didn’t have root in reality. Was that his manuscript? Had he constructed a utopia which he could dazzle our parents with?

His speech became hazed babble, incoherent and inconsistent with the truth. How could his lies be truer than my entire life? I had worked hard to get that job. I had gone through college and beyond just to get a job like that? How could his lies be more plausible? How dare they discard my life and tell me I am just a silly little girl. Waking up from a coma my ass; they are withholding information and that book holds the only lies here!

I had stopped staring at him and watched the crackling bonfire instead. I notice as he stopped talking, but didn’t avert my eyes. The book came into my peripheral view as he threw it into the fire as a solid punctuation to his bloated speech. The book caught fire as I stared at the last page open before me; I smiled for the first time.

As I stare into the flames I can see how I am going to die. The irony is not lost in me standing before the blazing bonfire. Reading the words like they were my last thoughts I leapt into the fire and grabbed the book, shielding the last evidence of this corrupted world with my body. The screams around me barely reached my ears. The pain was unbearable. I regret it, I regret it all.

The book felt cold in my embrace. I should have guessed that it couldn’t be harmed this easily, this dreadful nightmare I can’t seem to wake up from. Why can’t they just take it away from me? I don’t want it, they can have it. Oh they can have it for themselves! I want them to take it away from my white throbbing knuckles.

Please take it away…