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All For One, part 2

Posted 23 May 2005, 6.47 pm by The_Roach

Over two years ago, I wrote an article for AKpCEP and promised that more would likely follow. Here, now, is the second installment. The first can be found here.

"Why is it so much harder at night?"

That's what she asked us as we sat under the stars, their pinpoints of light just beginning to crack through the darkness. I didn't have an answer for her. Esoteric questions such as that tend to elude me, as I don't spend much of my time musing. Find the problem, find the solution. If no solution is available, minimize the damage and move on. It's simple, practical... and heartless.

I had been on vacation only days earlier when, on the drive home, my cellular phone decided that its time had come. I live by that mobile device, relying on it for dates, times, alarms and as my personal phone directory. I never feel so lost as I do when I'm without it and, when it failed me for what would be the last time, I immediately went towards damage control. There was no doubt a spare phone that could be borrowed from work or wherever else until a replacement could be purchased. I'd have to start writing down appointments again, of course. But what to do about the numbers? I did a quick mental inventory of how many I had memorized and came up with a dozen.

Two days later, I had found a loaner and was making the best of not knowing who was calling. Answer, ask for their name if I didn't recognize the voice, add it to the phone book. Seems silly, this one is only going to be used for a month, but old habits die hard. And I can always retype them again, right? Right.

When it rang in the afternoon, I grabbed it and, out of habit, checked to see what the display said. No name, just digits. But I know it. It's one of the dozen. My mind took a moment for recall, stopped itself, and checked again in disbelief. This couldn't be right. She almost never calls and, on those rare occasions that she does, it's never from this number. I remember it due to simplicity and repetition but I haven't even dialed it in years now.

"This is never an easy call to make," she said and, in that instant, I knew her mother was dead.

I couldn't say anything. What was I to do? Offer the usual platitudes? "She's in a better place." "At least she isn't in pain anymore." These are small, ineffectual comforts; the excuses that we use to hide the guilt of knowing that nothing said is going to make the difference.

She was surrounded by friends when I arrived an hour later to make my presence felt, remind her there was one more person who loved her, whom she could share the weight of sorrow with. Faces known to me but never even classed as acquaintances exchanged the perfunctory greetings. We sat in the cool grass, watching the last rays of daylight descend past the mountains and out of sight, and spoke of old people and times past.

I told her of a friend who is to be married in the coming months. She reminisced her guilt at never having called another when her mother passed some years prior. We tried to recall the first time we met, roughly ten years ago. There was discussion about who had called, what they had said, reactions to the news. Others came and went from our conversation, contributing their own stories and sentiments and tears.

I had not been aware of her mother's decline, which had come rather suddenly. It was a mere three days in the passage from relative normalcy to the finality of death. One of the members of our little party had been present, staying with them through the entire affair. When the question came, she was the one who could answer it.

"You come home at night. That's when you remember."

Being Creative

Posted 14 May 2005, 7.09 am by lee

They met in the middle of the train station. The huge trains came on and off the railways, creating unbearable amounts of noise. People were running all over the place- trying to catch their train on time. She was waiting for a friend she hasn’t met for ages. He was late and she was getting a bit nervous in there. She just wanted the noise to stop. Two hands covered her eyes and a gentle voice asked- trying to catch a train too?! I’m here for as much as half an hour and still nothing- I get the feeling that someone up there doesn't want me to go...
- Do you?! But why are you reaching hands to strangers!?
He didn't seem to be troubled by her query and went on,
- I’m not trying to be rude- but can I ask you out for a cup of coffee?! I’m getting really bored here and I think our train will be delayed for a while now.
He put his most charming face on and gave out a wink toward her. Having no trouble glancing right down at her low cut décolletage.
She looked up at him, trying her best not to look shocked by the proposal, or the nerve of the guy stood so much close to her now. Looking at her watch, as they heard the conductor announcing that the train will be late for another twenty minutes; and starting losing her patience. The dark guy still tried to convince her to come. He had his brown eyes shining and full of warmth looking at her with slender fondness. While starting towards the gigantic stone gate of the railway's station; She felt a little rush of curiosity, so she followed him.
-I get the feeling you begin to like me; you came after all.
Showing off his smile, letting a full raw of white teeth a little lick from the side.
-Try not getting too exited about it.
She had such a dazzling look when she looked at him with her infinite bright eyes.
-Well, I’ll try to cope.
-Works with me.
They came in an ancient looking coffee shop stood near the station.
This place offered the “best ‘black water’ in town” with “amazing sweets”, sounded just about right.
-I’m a student of medicine in the university, an hour travel by train from here. What is your excuse?!
-I’m supposed to meet a friend- but I guess he won’t come after all.
-Why not?! Why are you looking so sour? “I really love to be alone without all the ache and pain and the April showers...” it’s the Lighthouse Family, they already said it better then me.
He took a byte from the cake, using his tongue to put it on his nose.
-Are you always that silly near girls?
A little smile appeared in the curve of her mouth.
-Sure why not?! I’m young and I’m awfully childish- don’t girls just adore that in a guy?
-Sometimes we do.
He glanced for a while above her head, trying to think of how he heard his friend from school got the entire women-class-mates chasing after him all day long.
-Lets say I had it with trying to be intelligent for people to start appreciate me. What would you say if I suggested going somewhere else?
-I got here, haven’t I? So I’ll play along.
He was nearly undressing her in his mind; she noticed that fact, but didn’t seem to mind. Maybe all I really need right now is some good old sex.
He rose first and pick up the chair for her, getting really close to her neck, trying to make out the aroma of her skin. She thought that was cute of him to try looking old fashioned and behaving like a gentlemen. I always thought gentlemen were made by men in order to get women lose their guard faster. Ha, ironic- isn’t it.
They gone to his place and as she stood near the counter, he asked if she wanted something to drink. She shook her head; Just pure intercourse for me.
He took some ice and mashed it in his mouth.
-Come here,
Sounding fairly funny, his proposal got appealing in her eyes.
-I won’t byte…
A crafty smile got on his face, as his eyes were sparkling with joy.
Muscular arms were wrapped around her waist while her neck felt a cool wet kiss. The ice got really slender as his tongue rose to her hear. A little shiver gone throughout her back when his hands guided her to push the items behind her. There weren’t much on the counter- but she almost felt sorry for breaking something. There was a small vase that made a splash sound as its water broke lose, followed by a shattering sound of the vase itself. He started to kiss her lips really hard and passionately, whereas guarding her head until she was safe down. Warm long fingers traveled up and down the flowered summer dress she had on; and while brushing his one-day-old facial hair, she remembered how good it was to be single again. After starting to feel his passion rise, he decided to pick her up and carried her to his bedroom .He wore a buttoned navy blouse and long black trousers that started feeling tight near the groin aria. Unbuttoning his shirt felt just about right while getting a massage to her thighs. Starting opening her zipper with his teeth and getting her undressed felt as natural as breathing; so he gasped for a little air before she started taking his cloths off. She let him play with her belly for a while, getting excited by his tongue movements around and in her belly button. He petted her breasts and gave them tiny bytes, just before she guided his right hand over her worm skin straight to her silky lace panties. While he reached there she gave out a slight of a cry. Then she reached out for him, leaving his mouth open. The air conditioner was on, but they still felt awfully hot. When he got in her, she rose with pleasure and scratched his back with her long fingernails. They felt so good in that room and neither wanted to get up. It felt like the time has froze up merely for them…
----------------
-Tanks, honey, it was breath taking! I wish we could make love everyday.
They kissed gently.
She looked up at him with her luminous great eyes. Her skin was radiant and healthy, and her long reddish hair was scattered on the pillow. She seamed to him like an angel fell from the skies. And now this beautiful angel of his were at the edge of death. The doctors told them she had a really rare type of cancer and had to start being care of in the infirmary. Tears almost broke out of him, but he knew he had to be tough for her. They lay in the bed for a long time while they waited for the time she had to come back.
-We’ll try to be more creative next time, making love on the hospital's ward. What do you say?!
-I wish we could stay frozen in this moment forever.
He smiled at her and leaned to kiss her. She was holding his hand as tight as she could, at her situation. The old clock on the wall signed the fifth hour, they had to go. The suitcase was already in the car, so they took the keys and left. His throat felt extremely sore; How could I let her become sick… he knew it hadn't anything to do with him- but he still hoped he could fix things up. They got to the hospital by six in the after noon and the physician came to tend after her. He lay in the bed, right beside her, feeling her worm skin. She dozed off after taking the medicine and he kept holding her tight. Trying to be inspired for the next time home…

Cello's Song

Posted 9 May 2005, 4.28 am by Princess

i hide behind intonation of someone else's
masterpiece,

a specific moment where psychological
movement is expressed in musical notes.
a thought a thousand years old.

the sound of the song resonates
through my chest, as if
not even i
am playing this
instrument.

Deathwatch

Posted 18 April 2005, 10.17 pm by jackwright


So, about the best friend I have was diagnosed with cancer in his bladder last summer. It was probably a good thing; he had been miserable for quite some time. The diagnosis forced a decision concerning a treatment program. This was difficult for him as he'd had polio as a child; back in the days of the iron lung, hot packs and all manner of torturous experimental stratagery designed to fuck up any childes opinion of the medical profession for years to come.

They elected to run him through an aggressive chemo therapy program. The program run three times as long as they had thought in the beginning and about half way through, he started to experience pain in the lower center of his body. deep.

The oncologists waited until his blood tests indicated that the cancer in his bladder was gone before they ordered a bone scan, despite the fact that they had to prescribe morphine for the pain. I also find it odd that they ordered a bone scan when the bladder isn't a bone at all. It really does seem like a heartless fuckin racket to me.

Well, they hadn't killed the cancer at all, it had simply packed up and moved, and they knew that and continued the chemo treatments in order to collect the $275.00, or whatever, for a bunch of useless treatments while the cancer spread otherwhere. It had moved into his lower spine, his pelvis and into one femar. They decided to hit it with 600 rads of the old glow in the dark, every day for a couple of weeks.

It gets a little complicated here. Due to the backwoods status of where we live, he had several different types of doctors, scattered over about 300 miles, in about four different towns. Not a goddamn one of them communicating with another.

A few days before he was to report to the cancer clinic to begin his radiation treatments he developed heavy fluid on his lungs; which I, as a stupid white trash redneck, reccognised as congestive heart failure.

Consequently, the local quacks, without running a single test, decided that it was pneumonia and sent him home with antibiotics, a nebuliser and a prescription for oxygen; when, if like they should have, they'd run an EKG, they would have hospitalized him, then and there, for congestive heart failure.

To make matters worse, the local doctors didn't communicate with the cancer doctors so when he started his radiation treatments, in a town 100 miles away, instead of admitting him, they stuck him in a hotel room with oxygen, on morphine, in heart failure, with zero instructions concerning the use of the oxygen, thinking he had pneumonia.

Well, for all intents and purposes that was like just killing him. He got disoriented, misused the oxygen, wasn't taking anything to relieve the pressure on his heart, and lungs, and wound up enlarging his heart. He wound up in the emergency room and admitted, they finally decided it was heart failure, and they just put him on a dietetic, a fluid restriction and massive oxygen. Then just waited around for him to die.

He recently give me the power of attorney concerning any advanced health care directives; that means that if the time comes, I'll be the one to decide when to pull the plug. He was pretty bad but I felt like there was still hope. However he was down because some jerk doc had said not. It was his intention to finish his last three radiation treatments, then move to the extended care facility, up here, to continue working on getting his heart back online. I was supposed to go up and see him a few days back. His sister got a call in the morning saying it might be best to come get his affairs in order as he didn't have long. When I called ahead to see when would be a good time to show up in order to catch his doc, they told me that he was gone.

It turns out that he'd rolled over in the middle of the night and knocked his oxygen mask off, and nobody was at the monitoring station to catch it and his brain was damaged before they got it back on. So, wa laa, they shipped his ass up here to hospice him. A mix up concerning two docs by the same name at different hospitals fucked me up a little, but I finally found him; he was just barely there. He was completely fuckin' out of it; laying nude in a hospital bed with a diaper under him and not a blanket in sight. His oxygen line was wrapped all around everywhere except where it was supposed to be. He didn't know who I was despite the fact that he had been asking for me. He didn't know where he was, how long he'd been there or how he'd got there

This was not the time to play the kissass, I went fuckin' bulistic. I demanded that they get his doctor and the charge nurse present just as soon as I got his oxygen lines untangled, hooked up and his body, somewhat covered. By the time the charge nurse got there, I had him sitting up in his bed and trying to put the last 36 hours together; he couldn't do it. A couple of hours later, when his attending doctor showed up, he was coherent; which blew the doctor away.

During my little pow wow with the doc and nurse I learned that it was their opinion that his body was riddled with cancer, it had moved into his brain, his heart and lungs were completely shot, and, at best, he might live six, very miserable, months. When asked what they were basing their opinions on they didn't have a fuckin' answer. Not to mention their amazement at how much it helped to get him back on his oxygen. Too bad that the assholes didn't amaze themselves before the brain had been damaged. I impressed upon my friend his need to concously keep his oxygen on and headed down to see his cancer doctors, a hundred miles away.

The doctors weren't in at the cancer center but I talked to a receptionist/nurse. I give her a copy of my power of attorney concerning advance care directive and demanded some answers. I was told that his body was not riddled with cancer; that it was localized and, they believed, stopped. Their wish was still to get him in for the last three radiation treatments, and they still believe that he can go on to enjoy a decent quality of life for years to come.When I asked her what she based that opinion on, she replied the original diagnosis, bone scans and the fact that the radiation treatments had stopped the pain. Not much but more than the last doctor that I'd spoke to.

I then explained to her that I'd talked to a dozen different doctors in the last week, each one with a different diagnosis and not a single one of them with a current fucking test to back up their opinions. I suggested that she inform her boss that if he can't do something to get a few of these fuckin' quacks on the same planet, that he should let me know so that I could find somebody that could. I also informed her that I was about one more stupid answer away from retaining the greediest fuckin' shyster ambulance chaser I could find, and instructing him to sue until it was impossible for any of them to afford malpractice insurance again.

That was last Thursday. On Saturday when I went in to see him he was sitting up in his bed, he ate fruit that I brought. His thoughts were still, somewhat, fractured but he was aware of his surroundings. When I went in and seen him on Sunday, he was up, and dressed in his own clothes, and sitting in his wheelchair, feeding himself. He is just about all there; we give him his gituar and some pot brownies. When I left, I did so, for the first time in weeks, with a good feeling. He just called me at his house, on his own,(Sunday he couldn't remember his own number), and we had a good talk. I'll visit him tomorrow. I'm reasonably sure that he is going to get to come home soon.

It looks like the deathwatch may finally be nearing an end and I can go home and get some decent sleep, for the first time in weeks

Had I left the various quacks and their flunkies to their own devices last week, my friend would be dead today. What really bothers me here is that I know that this isn't an isolated incident, it happens all the time, in clinics and hospitals all over Amerika. I had to do the same thing for my mother a few years back up in Reno. My family called and offered to come get me and try to get me up to see her before she died. When I got there the prognosis was grim...nothing that they could do, and all that shit. Well, to make a long story short I started raising hell; I fought with my family; I had a falling out with my younger sister that still hasn't been repaired, but my mother is alive and well today. And, quite simply, she would not be if I'd left the doctors to their medical journals and insurance guidelines.

So what about you, is the doctors word written in stone ? Losta luck if it is...you're gonna need it.

Democratic Despotism

Posted 18 April 2005, 10.32 am by Anton

I was reading the paper yesterday, The Daily Mail I think it was. There was an article that was built around Democratic Despotism, a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville in which the power of state spreads so far and invades so many different things that its basically a despotism.

It got me thinking about how true this is becoming. Every problem seems to result in yet more legislation, more committees, in essence more shit to try and cover up the problem. I was always lead to believe that a Government works for the people so why are we being placed under greater and greater control by that which works for us? It seems quite foolish.

The utopian ideology of any Government should be to render itself obsolete, create such a paradise of a country that its inhabitants can run themselves like clockwork without an ever present Big Brother telling them what not to do. What we have today appears to be opposite and its not getting any better.

This wouldn't be as bad a situation if politics and business were further apart but as it is so much of political action is influenced by business and the mighty magnificence of currency that this ever increasing control cannot be a good thing whilst profit and productivity arguably have greater worth than the needs and wants of the people.

This part appears to owe a lot to World War 1. Before we didn't like state interference at all. We were a collection of small communities acting under the collective name of England. However the war brought about a necessity for increased production. Drastic changes occurred some of which were for the better: improved work conditions, more rights for women.

However, it also marked the journey down the long slippery slope of control by the Government. During the war they had pretty much complete control over the country and as we have seen in hundreds upon thousands of fictional and non-fictional works alike if you give a man power he seldom wants to give it all back. In fact they want more and more until they are so gorged on power they vomit everywhere and leave everything as a semi-digested garbled mess of society in absolute turmoil.

Do I have any solution for this? Not really, its simply a case of looking out for yourself and keeping an eye on the Government. Don't be sucked in by their lust for control, humanity has survived for millennia not because of Government but because of people.

Beyond Oblivion

Posted 12 April 2005, 1.31 pm by Green Mamba

[This part precedes "When Darkness Falls", but is not the beginning. I'm doing things a little back to front me thinks]

So, I live alone on the last habitable planet on the outskirts of the known universe and maybe it’s nothing more than a piece of sun-dried rock, but it’s my rock. After my father died and my brother left Oblivion to chase after some bitch in high heels and an easily removable skirt, I kind of got used to the idea of having a whole planet to myself. It’s not as if I don’t get any visitors, with Oblivion being the last stop for any would-be explorers who wants to “boldly go where no man had gone before”. So I almost always have some company and make a decent living, importing and trading valuable last minute supplies. Besides, Oblivion may look like dead rock on the surface, but underneath its rather dreary exterior is one of the Universe’s richest supplies of Twisted Matter.
After the great war of 2083, the world finally had time to heal from the wounds the Boy-Thing and his hoards of cyber-demons had inflicted. Without separate nations battling for superiority over the rapidly dwindling resources on Earth, the human race sore easily and quickly from the ashes of its dark past. Despire this, humanity was still limited to the confines of their birth solar system.
That was, until two students of quantum physics literally stumbled onto what was later to be called, Twisted Matter. As their undergraduate study, they were investigating the differences in the quantum processes that occur in the mind of patients suffering from disassociate identity disorder, as compared to normal healthy members of society. Or so the story goes, anyway. The whole world was about to change, when they found that the physical reality within the mind of their subject literally changed with their subject’s personality switch. Not only did their patients perception of reality change, but so did the physical reality within their brain. The phenomenon that was first discredited as a hoax, and then “bad science”, soon set the whole world of science ablaze. Within years of its discovery, now Nobel-laureates Henry Archeron and Dave Selbourne published their findings in a book called Twisted Matter wherein they had successfully pinpointed the physical aspects of thought. Later, geologist and physicist John Hindshaw discovered that planetary core’s also contain Twisted Matter, older planets more so than young ones.
From this team of Earth’s top quantum physicists eventually developed the Mind Warp. Synchronize two or more bio-organic super-computers, hook them up to a few milligrams of Twisted Matter, upload the precise co-ordinates of where you want to go and together it’ll literally bend reality to get you there. Well that’s the non-scientific version of it. In reality it’s a hell of a lot more complicated than that. Not to mention the literally thousands of would be space explorers that disappeared from this plane of reality before the process was perfected.

So, where does all this leave me and my little rock at the end of the known universe. Simple, there are no co-ordinates beyond Oblivion and nothing other than physical matter can break though the edge of our universe. Not radio waves, not light waves or even telepathy. Probes disappear into the darkness and never come back and so does everybody who dares to follow suit. They nicknamed it the Big Nothing and for all intents and purposes, I am its keeper.

We are about three steps away from the door when it opens. Semjaza smiles, the wrinkles in his face converge heavily on his face, but his eyes tell a tale of great concern, maybe even fear. A look I have never seen from him before.
As I make to step through into the house, he gently rests his hand on my shoulder.

I am glad you are here, master Gideon.
Not that it would do much good, from what he’s told me.
He’s not human, so he knows not much about hope in the face of certain death. Thus it is good to have another human here to carry the burden of what is happening.
And in your capacity as a witness, what exactly is that burden?
Darkness, master Gideon. Darkness like we have never seen before.

By the time we reach the living-room, the Man in the Moon is standing by the window looking out. Without unfixing his steely gaze from the scene unfolding in the window he calls us to his side.

Come, the darkness is about to give birth to the destruction of the Universe.

[Written by Rudi du Plooy, Edited by Ben Wright]

Mortal, and Trivial too.

Posted 12 April 2005, 6.22 am by Villager

I was taking a shower, one evening. I was exhausted, and just wanted to get clean so I could collapse into bed in comfort. I was thinking about how I really didn't want to go to class the following morning when my hand, dutifully spreading soap about my person, came across something that instinctively felt wrong. I retraced my movements and found that where there should be two, there were three. A large, reasonably solid lump in the exact place where you least want to find a large, reasonably solid lump. I hadn't exactly been checking for these things, despite what the adverts say, but I felt sure that I would have noticed something of that size had it developed slowly over time. So I was alarmed mostly because of the speed with which it had grown. I didn't think too much of it at first, for two reasons. One, I knew that age and general physical condition were on my side. Two, I've never been one to worry unduly about things beyond my control. Still, I was alarmed enough to make an appointment get it looked at.

I've never really feared death. It's one of those really pointless phobias given the utter inevitability of departing from this world. No, my fears are much more modest. Dogs, severe physical disability, American “friendly fire” and so forth. That's not to say that I don't wish to live along life; there’s plenty that I look forward to experiencing. Growing up I only really had one brush with death (that I was conscious of, at least). I was at the top of a tree in my grandparents' house, about 40 or 50 feet up. With me was one of my partners in mischief, Richard his name. Being about ten years old, I was rather reckless in matters of personal safety (I was later to fall from the same tree, only from, a somewhat lesser height, sustaining only a broken thumb). I was seeing just how high I could go before the branches became too thin to support my weight when such a branch (more of a twig, really) snapped as I pulled on it. My one grounded (branched?) foot slipped from its perch, I began to fall earthwards before being grabbed my fellow climber. I still fell to a lower branch, but without serious harm. A horrible, young death was thus averted. I didn't speak or think of this for some years, and had forgotten about it until, on occasion, such as crossing a bus road and almost regretting it, it would be dragged from the depths of my memory.

In the week or so I had to wait for my appointment, I more or less forgot about it, having other things to worry about. When the appointment came, I ambled along without too much thought, and had my new companion inspected. The doctor said it felt like a build-up of fluid, which probably meant it wasn't serious. I was sent for a scan anyway. So far so good. I was told to call for the result later that week, but when I did I was told I had to come in for it instead, and they wouldn't say why. This had me a little concerned, thinking there must be some terrible news awaiting me that couldn't be given over the phone.

The day or so that followed that phone call (I couldn't go straight away) were surprisingly anxious times. I always imagined that I would be a picture of calm resignation when I received bad news concerning my physical person, yet I found myself fidgeting and dwelling at length upon my impending death. Death is always impending, of course, but it's somewhat more apparent when you have an idea of how and when it might happen. I suppose it's comforting to assume that I'll live until I’m grey and old. I didn't get an urge to do all manner of things that one feels one ought to do in one's lifetimes, but rather, I sat there and thought 'what should I feel about this?'. I was anxious, I suspect, because of the uncertainty. I wasn't sure how I'd feel if the worst was confirmed, though plenty of things crossed my mind. Perhaps I'd be distraught, but I doubt it. Perhaps I'd feel relieved, knowing roughly how long was left and knowing I didn’t have to think about medium or long term consequences anymore. More likely, I'd just sit there and think about it.

I wonder how many people would come to my funeral. Thirty or forty, perhaps, not a bad showing. My mother would cry, perhaps my sister too. Who would miss me? I can think of two probable people. That's not so good. But then, why would I want people to miss me? No sense in causing them undue misery. It occurs to me that I'd have next to nothing to leave behind, save a few impersonal personal items. What would I do in my last months/years? Take out a whopping great loan and do as many crazy things as I could think of? Live my life as usual? Or succumb to anxiety and depression and expire in an orgy of drugs and terminal velocity? Probably I'd just go home and do nothing. I miss having time to ponder in peace, free of responsibility and the drag of life. Before I left for the results, I was ready to hear the worst. I would thank the doctor and go sit outside and watch the birds.

When I arrived, I was a bit nervous, but less than I had anticipated. I calmed myself during the wait, and even managed to feel chirpy as I was invited in, having flirted with one of the nurses. I was caused a moment of alarm when the doctor looked at my details with an expression of distinct consternation, but this was not because the news was bad but rather that there was in fact no reason why I shouldn't have been told over the phone. The growth was harmless, and I later had it removed. I thanked the doctor, went outside, and found some birds to watch. 'Thank God', I thought, though I wondered quite what I was thanking him for. Had I learned anything? I felt a somewhat pressing need to make my life purposeful, but wasn't sure how to go about it. So I watched the birds, and threw my sandwich to them. It occurred to me that this was the first activity I had enjoyed in a very long time, so I stayed there until the sun came down and it started to get cold. As I walked home, I felt a sense of unexplained joy, freedom, rejuvenation and even a little energy.

Or maybe that was just the cold.

When Darkness Falls

Posted 8 April 2005, 2.17 pm by Green Mamba

Its late afternoon and the yellow sun start to climb the bricks on the East side of the building, setting them ablaze in a haze of dark burgundy. The shadows are growing longer and the wind picks up, as it does every day at this time while the street fill with people deep in their daily business.
Emma sits on the window sill of their first floor apartment, mesmerised by the strange mix of characters in the street below while her feet dangle dangerously over the edge. She likes watching people, listening to the passing conversations from simple greetings between friends to shopping lists swapped by couples or business deals by the occasional person of importance. Listening gives her a better understanding of how the world works, of how people think and of what she could be when she grows up one day. At least, that’s what she thinks.

She notices a strange boy in the alley across the street, hiding in the shadows,. She has never seen him before, which is unusual because she sits here every afternoon after school and knows everyone in the area. She squints to try and get a better view but his features remain obscured by darkness. The boy looks up at her as if he is aware of being watched and then he shuffles deeper into the alley until he disappears from her sight. She shrugs, thinking that her imagination is playing tricks on her mind. Besides, she is old enough already to know that there is no such thing as monsters. That is just fairy tales from a very long time ago.
From all the way down the crossing at Mahogany Lane, she watches little Gary Hallows running along the gutters. A real little monster that one, she thinks. He takes an apple from Mr Dickson’s cart, almost tripping over a stray cat as he makes his getaway with Mr Dickson shouting behind him in mock anger.
Jane Hallows, Gary’s mother, will come by later and offer him something for the apple and Mr Dickson will decline. I remember when we were his age, he will say; do you remember how bad I was? And they will recount their childhood memories yet again, which would eventually turn into an invitation for dinner. Fred Hallows died a few years ago in a dockyard accident and Mr Dickson has taken to looking out for them. Or maybe his teenage crush on her never went away. Either way, he’s a good man and would make a great husband and a much needed father for Gary.

Emma watches as Gary as he comes up the lane, skipping past the dark alley with his face buried deep in the side of the apple. Suddenly and without any apparent reason, he stops and slowly retraces his steps. For a long moment he stands there, unmoving at the gaping mouth of the dark alley. Emma sees the shadows shift inside the alley and leans forward, her eyes straining into the darkness. A small light comes to life from within the darkness, like a shiny metal object making lens flare halos in the sun. Gary takes a step towards it. Emma looks up and down the street but not one person notices what is happening. Fuelled by curiosity, Gary starts towards the light, crossing over into the darkness. Emma gasps in silent fear and watches helplessly as Gary Hallows disappears into the darkness.

“Hello, little boy” says the voice in the shadows.
“Hi. Who are you?” asks little Hallows
“Oh, I’m the Devil.” answers the darkness.
“What’s a devil?” asks Gary
“It’s a whole lotta fun” says the voice.
“Cool,” says Gary Hallows.
Wanna see?” asks the voice.
“Uh yeah, ok.” Answer Gary, his voice slightly unsure.

Frankie the Bum lives in an old wooden freight container, in the back of a small, dark alley. He was born slow and lost his parents early on, or maybe they lost him. Either way he was alone in the world before he was fifteen. Now he lives in a wooden crate behind Basil’s Restaurant. Basil found him picking through the garbage one night and instead of chasing him away gave him a meal, a blanket and a place to sleep. The crate originally contained a new gamma stove that was shipped in from Halo 17. After the stove was installed, the crate got left behind and has been sitting there ever since. Now the crate contains a mattress with scratchy blankets, a small electric light, a FM radio, an old electric kettle, a folding chair and a pile of books. The same extension cord that powers the humble kettle also gives life to an FM radio, and a small electric light that hangs dangerously from the ceiling. Every night he gets a hot meal from Basil and the extension cord that powers Frankie’s home is plugged into a socket in the kitchen with a label on it that reads, “DO NOT TOUCH,” in big, threatening letters. Once a new apprentice chef switched it off by accident and Basil had him scrubbing dishes for a week.
So all in all, aside from living in a wooden box in a dark alley, Frankie has a good life. So maybe he’s not the sharpest crayon in the box and the kids laugh at him when they see him searching for a book in the children section at the library, but he’s happy. As long as he has a roof over his heads, one hot meal a day and book to read by free electric light, the world is all right by him.

Gary Hallows makes his way through the alley of shadows, towards a big wooden crate in the back. There is a man inside. Old Frankie the Freak, who likes to read children’s books and combs his greasy hair with a parting right down the middle and flat against his head. He’s fast asleep. Right there in his reading chair with a book still in his hands. Gary moves closer to the sleeping body, keeping to the shadows while he tries to read the title of the book. It’s obscured by Frankie’s big hands slumping heavily over the cover and he can only make out the beginning and the end. “Pigl... ...ture,” or something like that.

“This will be a whole lot of fun, you’ll see” says the darkness.
“It doesn’t feel right” protests the boy.
“But it will, believe me it will” says the darkness.

Frankie’s wooden box doesn’t have an actual door. The front just lifts up, which he then holds up with an old broomstick to keep it from falling back down. Gary Hallows sneaks right up to Frankie’s front door, so to speak, smiles at the sleeping owner and then, in one swift swoop, kicks the broomstick-doorstop from underneath the door. It comes crashing down with a loud bang. Inside the wooden box, Frankie throws the book in the air and jumps to his feet. He forgets that his home can’t contain his full length and hits his head against the roof before sagging back down into his chair holding his head. Outside, Gary Hallows secures the door by slipping a nail through the iron latch that came with original wooden crate. By the time Frankie gathers what little wits he has, it’s too late. He starts to bang against the door, pleading to be released. Gary Hallows laughs at his plight, the darkness spurring him on every step of the way.

Little Gary Hallows has a box of matches and a small tin of lighter fluid. Later that night, his elders will question him about where he got it and he will simply say, “The devil gave it to me”. They will look at each other with raised eyebrows and for days thereafter discuss the tragedy of Frankie the Bum’s untimely death. Such a horrible end to such a sad life. No one deserves to be burned alive, least of all intentionally ... by an eight year old boy.
Garry Hallows will be confined to a room in his parents house, where he will sit for the duration of the elder’s discussions. By the time his parents return to open the door, their son will be gone, replaced by fearful madness, foaming at the mouth and eyes bloodshot with murder and rage.

[Written by Rudi du Plooy. Edited by Ben Wright]

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This art reminds me of the center of the universe with everything having a link to it, representing all the incoming colours to the center.

MortisDeus

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Props to Green Mamba for bringing the weirdness

Hmph

80s candy bars were pretty good

only because i traded it for a candy bar in the 80's.

lol we all know you don't have a soul ghoti

my soul for some carbs...

But of course!

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