*Static radio noise with cut ins of random distorted words, static, then silence*
*Mellow string instruments quietly play in the background. *
Hello listeners, I am glad you could find this frequency that was hiding between all the mainstream and corporate radio stations. My name is.. it’s irrelevant, but those who will stay to listen can call me Cicada. Those who cracked my online cipher and found the station, congratulations and welcome, also listen carefully for more clues. To those who stumbled onto this transmission by accident, you need to be warned, this is not for everyone, you might learn something you didn’t want to know. The truth others want to hide. But! Knowledge is power, and I have mystery to be solved. A real mystery, and there aren’t many of them left around. I’m not talking about what your neighbor is doing at night, or political conspiracy theories. I’m talking about things that are out there we can’t yet explain. About the things that lurk around in our peripheral vision but can never be seen. Places and events that change people. Have you ever heard the word Zanu?
I have first heard of it in an obscure science research forum, it didn’t seem to fit in such a place but, the scientist writing about it seemed sure it can exist. Most assumed he was just mad, and I was about to do the same. What got my attention was that the post got deleted while I was reading it. Normally they are flagged, moved to a separate section where the post has a week to be viewed before removal. Yet this one was deleted immediately, what’s more interesting, it was deleted at root level. And dear listeners, you know that takes incredible skill to do such a thing, even I would struggle with that. For those who are here by accident, deletion at root level means to remove something from the internet, completely, as in it doesn’t exist anymore. Like I said it takes incredible skill to do it. Also, everything you posted online, ever, even when you thought you deleted it, it is still out there, floating or at least traces of it. I don’t intend to scare you but almost nothing disappears from the web. Anyways, my system managed to copy the text before it was removed and saved it on my external database. Now I am one of very few if not the only one in possession of it. Because of the removal I got into a rabbit hole. I’ve set up my system with a search algorithm to scan the net for “ZANU”. Of course, I got flooded with everything about Zimbabwe African National Union. Hey! Don’t smirk, even pros can make a mistake. I’ve upgraded the algorithm now and got a hit on few insignificant things, but one led me to a manuscript that was names Zanu and it made sure I stay in the rabbit hole. I will read an extract from it now.
“You wake up, alone, and walk out into the dark forest. You’re up before the others, as always. The way is hard. The way is dark. You wait. You listen, but there are still signs of life in the woods. You know, when you’re close, these sounds will fade and finally stop. The seekers rise soon after, in this place they are nameless, only known as a Zealot, Writer and Navigator. They way is hard, the destination keeps moving, or you are moving. It’s ever-changing or you are changing. Hearing a hum and throb in your head, tie a red ribbon to a branch and run forth. Follow the sound until you lose yourself just to find the red rock. The seekers will go on, if they’re lucky, your seekers dreams can become reality. If they’re not, the Seeker enters a nightmare world, an unimaginable hell of their own creation. He will take them while you run back to face the consequences of reality.”
It sounds trippy alright, there was a bit more but it seems irrelevant for now. So, this scientist wrote that there is place out there in the world that can change people, move, break and kill people. The place is also moving every few hundred years. It can also be only accessed if four adequate people go together. That claim seems to match with the manuscript.
At this point you’re thinking I’m full of shit and this is a joke, I pondered that idea, but is worth to create a joke that will be almost impossible to notice, and even if it will be noticed it would go over everyone’s head. Only select few understand the effort of placement and process of deletion. Let me reiterate, you don’t delete insignificant shit at root level.
Those who cracked my cipher, the number attached to the answer is now live for 5 minutes only. Send in your opinions and insight, no calls, and remember FIVE minutes.
While I prepared this broadcast, I asked around in the circles of “information specialists” if they can dig up any info. The only person who answered was the person who removed my identity from the world, the one and only GiM. That’s God in Machine for those who don’t know. I’ve asked if he knows anything about this mysterious Zanu topic. The only reply I got was “Stay away from it”.
Now, there you have it folks, if the number one hacker in the world tells you to stay away from looking into something, it certainly means it is some kind of serious shit.
Hold on, we got a first message, and another, lets see here. I am not the only one in possession of that post, congratulations to you then, maybe you can help us discover more. This one is interesting, one of you claims that the post was written by a German Dr. Mengel. Following more of his musings before his content was removed he suspected unusual activity in Ireland, coordinates provided but no further explanation as to what he was talking about. Can we assume that he was talking about the same thing? Yes, of course, we can assume anything. The difference here is that the hum and throb from the description, I have experienced that, and not just me. Now you know why I’m not letting go of the topic. And I am an idiot for giving up my location. Well if this will turn out in any part true, I wont be able to explore it on my own I will need to meet some of you to accomplish that.
Another message, let’s see, ‘hum and throb in the head as well as feeling of dread while walking in the forest, I fell that often, could it be linked? I’m MJ contact me at…’
Don’t worry MJ I won’t share your info, but will be contacting you soon.
*static breaking noise* followed by muffled raspy voice “I told you to not look into it, you will regret it, you all will.” *static into return of transmission*
…hell was that?! Who interrupts my broadcast? I get the warning GiM but it’s too late, I’m already into it. Those afraid please turn the dial and continue with your uneventful lives.
So, we have a mystery, strange location, stranger assumptions and a clear indication we are snooping into something they clearly don’t want us to know. Hey GiM, is that how you became the best? You went into the calm and came out skilled? You know something that I’m sure of. Spill the beans G…
*voice cut out to play a snippet of ‘2Unlimited – No Limit’ from 1993 saying “NO, No, No, No”*
Well you got class, I appreciate the old school.
*another interruption playing a part from ‘Sam Brown – Stop’ “You better stop!”*
We won’t get far going like this are we?
Listeners, we will continue in 72 hours on the dot. Find me in the frequencies, five minute intro in Morse code will tell you are at the right length wave and more. Let’s shine some light in the face of darkness.
Oh, and this one is for you GiM, much love.
*Transmission ends with a song, ‘Queen – Don’t stop me now’ *
Oliver burst open the door to his apartment with excessive force, the swiftness with which he shut and locked the door would never betray the fear he felt inside but the four-letter profanities spilling from his lips as if a broken record did. He threw his backpack onto the table knocking off two ceramic cups standing there. With one hand still on the door handle, he swiftly reached for a container on a shelf mounted beside him and began fixing the line of salt that the swing of the door had broken.
This salt line slithered like a snake along all the walls of the apartment and just like the snake Uroboros, it consumed its own tail to form a never-ending loop. The ritual of maintaining the unbroken line of salt along the perimeter of the walls was sacred to Oliver as he believed it is a barrier that keeps away ghosts, demons and other evil. Not all of them unfortunately but still that’s what he believed as his mother did and her mother before her.
Raising his hand to the forehead he wiped the sweat that was trying to escape his body as much as he was trying to escape the situation he found himself in. Next Oliver rushed to the bathroom to wash his face, he stopped in front of a mirror looking at his reflection, self-hatred made him wince. He proceeded to wash his face and quench his thirst at the same time, few scarlet drops mixed with the water fell on the ceramic decorating it with ruby specs. Oliver looked at the blood and then himself in the mirror as if trying to ask if it was his own or not. The face in the mirror looking back at him was unwelcoming and was looking worse every day. Eyes bloodshot with grey circles surrounding them, the beard was growing wildly and his hair was longer than he is comfortable with. His appearance reminded people of a poorly maintained alcoholic, truth is Oliver never was one and stayed away from alcohol, but today he could use a deep glass of good whiskey to calm his shaking hands. Oliver took one last look at himself, shivered and looked away, he hated mirrors due to past experiences and paranoia that his reflection won’t mimic his movements or that he will see someone else in the room with him.
Days like this happened often, too often, reminding him of groundhog day, Oliver kept running back to his apartment with fear, fear of something catching him off guard or fear of being seen what he was doing. In his profession leading a solitary life was better off for everyone for various safety reasons, unfortunately, extended loneliness deteriorates one’s mental health and it was hard to tell if Olivers was still there. To keep partially sane Oliver called his friend on the weekends to chat, report on the week, ask for advice, comfort and most often used har as a private shrink. Today was a good day to call and after 4 ringtones, the phone was answered with a crackling static and then a voice that was warm and soft like velvet, equally alluring as comforting with a slight accent that can’t be pinned to any country.
“Hello Oliver, are you alright?” the voice asked.
“Lucy, it’s nice to finally hear you” answered Oliver.
“You are the one who decided to call only once a week, every day I’m worried if you will come back alive.” Said Lucy with evident worry in her voice.
“I get by, few more bruises and scratches but alive, hunted 2 this week so I have enough for rent, might even be enough for electricity.” replied Oliver.
“Oli, why do you keep doing this? How long do you think you can hunt monster demons or whatever it is you do before it gets out of hand and you end up the one that’s killed.” pleaded Lucy
“Oli.. it sounds… Nicer from your lips. There are too many of them walking the street and I have to follow my family tradition, you know that. And about what you said, something is getting out of hand, don’t know what but something follows me around. I can feel its presence when going out, its eyes on me, home I’m safe but it haunts me in the dreams.”
“You always end up in bad situations don’t you, I think it’s your special power” she laughed, “Tell me more what’s going on and about the dreams”.
“Hope you got time and somewhere comfortable to sit that nice butt.” Oliver said grinning to the phone
“Do you remember that place where we signed up for the experiments with the mirrors, the one you’ve read about led by Dr Kaputo and you insisted on trying it. The one where we stared at the mirrors in dim lighting and our reflections started deforming. Oli asked
“Yeah, I remember that it was like an acid trip without any acid, my face started to melt in front of me, then it was changing shapes growing in disturbing ways, it was creepy as shit. Yet for some reason we never really talked about it.” confirmed Lucy.
Oliver decided to tell his view of the events that happened back then and what might have caused what is happening now and Lucy like a good friend decided to listen without interruptions.
“It was just like you said for me too, it was so disturbing I snapped out of it a few times and had to start over again, that’s why I had to stay longer to complete the experiment. With each attempt, the hallucination got progressively worse, more disturbing, at one point I even saw horns growing out of my skull. Again I lost focus and had to restart and this time it was completely different, I didn’t see myself anymore, I saw my parents looking back at me, my deceased parents. Of course, that snapped me out of it right away, I was shocked. As you can imagine I wanted to see them again, it’s been years since I last saw them, who knows maybe I could talk to them, maybe it’s not just my imagination playing tricks. And like an idiot I fell for this trick, whatever it was, I tried, again and again, I saw them in that damn mirror, no longer smiling at me, no longer smiling at all. Their faces contorted in agony that I have never seen and no child wants to ever see on their parents. Flames licked their faces until they blistered, then charcoaled until black and pink chunks of cheeks began to fall off. I tried to snap out of it, I screamed, kicked and howled but nothing helped. Then I heard laughter, more like cackling from those burned bodies which began to turn into an unfamiliar face, next the experiment attendees and staff also started laughing. I lost it and ran out kicking down all the doors on the way and tried to forget it all.” Oliver exhaled with distinct pain in his voice.
“Oli… I.. I don’t know what to say, I’m sorry you experienced that” she tried to comfort him. “But what has that to do with what’s going on now”?
“First of all I have a slight phobia of mirrors, and that unfamiliar face I saw at the end, I’ve seen it again, 3 weeks ago in the crowd, 2 weeks ago in the bus just staring at me, today on my street. I thought i’m imagining it, or I confused that face with a random stranger because I forgot about it. Then he started laughing, that spine-shivering cackle brought back all the memories in detail. Whatever it is, it started to follow me and now knows where I live. Now I have nightmares, bad ones that turn into false awakenings and lately I’m experiencing sleep paralysis every night.” Oli explained with a slight tremble in his voice and Lucy couldn’t guess if he is scared or unsure how to continue so she took the opportunity to speak.
“Listen Oli, it all sounds dreadful and I’m sorry it’s happening to you, I want to help you but I don’t know how, you never let me in that close. I know you see a lot of weird shit in your outings, but at least don’t let sleep paralysis get to you. I know it is horrible, I experienced it too, you wake up paralysed in the middle of the night unable to make a sound and you see a dark figure walking towards you. It sits down on your body and you feel the weight of it as it stares right into your eyes and all you can do is wait and look. What I’m saying is that it’s just your imagination, your brain hallucinates as your body wakes up before your brain exits the dream state.”
“That stranger was also a hallucination and now he is following me Lucy” Oliver interrupted.
“Oli stop, that path of thinking scares me, that would mean somebody actually was in my room” she said
“I don’t want to but you should know, I recorded myself sleeping. Each night, each night it’s the same thing. The bedroom door opens slowly, on its own..” Oliver hesitates. “When it opens fully the screen goes static for an hour only to come back in focus when the door begins to close.” Fear is evident in his voice now. “I am watching a video from last night now…”
If he could see Lucy at that moment he would see tears flowing down her cheeks, she was about to make a comment about his revelation but her words were halted in her throat by a sound she heard in the phone’s speaker. It was low quality and volume, indicating it was the recording Oliver was watching. The sound she heard was laughter, it was odd, not happy but sinister. She realized it must have been the thing Oliver was talking about, she was about to say something but the phone line went dead all of a sudden.
Oliver was frozen when he listened to the recording, so much so that in the first moment he didn’t notice the power outage in his building. Maybe because he was so petrified or maybe because even when the lights went out, the computer turned black and the landline silent, the laughing continued to be audible. Oliver’s grasp of what is happening came with equal amounts of terror, trying to hold it together he realized that the sound is too quiet to be in the room, with unease he approached the window and from the third storey he saw the source of that haunting laughter. This thing was standing there with a hood over its head and a grin wider than humanly possible, in one hand it was playing with a lighter while the other was mockingly waving at Oliver. The eyes were difficult to see from afar but he knew it was looking straight at him and it sent shivers down his spine. The creature took a step forward then another and Oliver instantly tripped over his feet as he was trying to get away from the window faster than he could. Scrambling in the dark he grabbed a torch from the drawers in the desk that supported his old computer. Next he rushed to the bedroom and from his nightstand he pulled out a pistol, Oliver had no idea what he was dealing with but it was worth a shot.
He could hear all the neighbours in the apartment block coming out into the hallway asking in confusion if anyone has power, without much thinking he went outside as well telling everyone to get back inside. He would have been ignored if not the outline of a gun in his hand, the hallway was empty again with just Oliver and a growing sound of laughs and giggles. Oliver crouched beside his door, aimed the gun at the stairway and waited as the sound of twisted joy grew with the footsteps. The stairway was slowly illuminated by a dancing flame that made the light and shadows sway in their danse macabre. Oliver heard a few screams and quick shutting of the doors on the second floor, this meant he wasn’t the only one who could see him. The footsteps turned rapid up the last set of stairs causing the flame to cast unnatural shadows on the wall. Once Oliver saw the flame at his level, running towards him he gripped the gun tightly and fired. The gunshot in a quiet hallway defend him for a moment, but it also did something else, the flash from the gun illuminated his target. To his shock, it wasn’t the creepy face that was haunting him but the equally shocked face of a little girl he sometimes saw in the building. She stopped, dropped a candle she was holding and collapsed beside it, the blood oozing from the wound quickly extinguished the candle. Then that laughing got ever louder and more maniacal as the second flame entered the corridor.
Oliver was so frozen in disbelief he didn’t look away from the girl in front of him, not even when a raspy voice greeted him.
“Isn’t that a beautiful sight Oli? You did a good job, she only suffered for a minute or two, she is gone now. And I will feast on her delicious soul” the thing said.
“Oh, I should say thank you even, you see Oli I sustain myself by devouring souls, and the young ones taste the best, exquisite actually. The thing is, I’m not able to kill, so I orchestrate events such as this in my favour. I won’t bore you with the details now, it might be too complicated for you but I will tell you this. You will be arrested for a murder of a child, the police after searching your apartment and seeing all the occult crap you have they will decide you are mentally unstable, rightly so I might add, and will lock you in a mental institute where I will have you all to myself where, how shall I put it, I will season you before a good meal. See you soon Oliver.” the thing hissed into his ear before vanishing into the dark.
Today was a good day, I received a visit from a long time friend. We were talking nonsense sipping whiskey from the glass. While drinking and chatting I was carefully watching my son from the first-floor window. He is 5 and is playing outside with his ball bouncing it against the wall beside my car. It’s getting dark and keeps raining but he seems happy so I let him stay.
An eerie feeling came over me when the bouncing of the ball slightly changed the rhythm. It no longer sounded like the ball is bouncing right back to him, now there was a short pause between and it didn’t hit the wall. I looked out again and saw he was at the cornet of the house throwing the ball beside the house now where I could not see. There had to be another person with him, With fear, I ran downstairs to check. My friend seemed to not notice the whole situation
Through the ground floor window, I could see a large dark figure that was interacting with my son. From the distance, its size and posture in the darkness gave it an unnatural, deformed look. In shock, I ran up to the window beside the figure for a better look, but at that point, it was already gone, like vapour in the air. Trying to see if my son is still there, the feeling of dread filled my bones when a sudden realization came over me. I never had a child, nor did I have any friends left in this town. Paralyzed I was standing in front of that window, the wind was blowing in my face through the broken glass bringing clarity of mind. I was hit by the smell of rotten floorboards and mildew that was on the walls.
Forgotten was the house and everything in it including myself. Shards of glass at the window sill seeped with the temptation of bad decisions, the darkness in front of me was like the void I hold inside of me. Without alarming sounds on my back I could only feel the eyes of malice itself.
Today I was sitting on a bench in the park watching time pass me by when a girl sat beside me without even saying hi. Looking like she is about to cry without any introductions she started talking to me like we knew each other all along.
She said, “I must confess it turns me on when I cut my flesh, it feels like there is nothing left, I’m hollow, I’ll follow death if it’s a change from mundane Mondays.”
It caught me by surprise but I listened as she continued
“You know my pain, I’m empty inside, my veins pump only hate. Sometimes I feel like life isn’t real and my brain is too busy and my mind doesn’t ever heal. I could never shut it off so I rather shut it down, do it right the first time, I’m not trying to mess around. I considered my garage foot revving on the gas, maybe a slash and a gasp or quick violent blast.”
Looking into each other’s eyes we smiled at one another but the smile was a mask of the memories past, with a calmness I replied “I don’t believe in hell unless that’s what we are in, sometimes I want to free me soul straight jump out of my skin. It would be a short-lived win, I don’t believe in God but there is no need for this mortal sin, have you thought about your kin?”
She sighed and said, “People do it all the time my family should be fine, I constantly feel like I’m running out of time.”
With timed interruption “If I only had a dime for every time you people think that lives you leave behind will be fine. It’s a cowards crime, you can scorn me for the words I delivered but don’t think it’s something I’ve never considered. The mere thought makes me feel withered, killing yourself doesn’t stop the pain either. You might not feel it when after you’re gone but you just pass it on to the to all those who care, and do not dare say there is nobody as not everybody knows how to say it. So by thinking you will be at ease you can spread an agonizing disease. But remember that even the worst storm has to pass, that every uphill climb has to eventually end in a smooth walk. And I understand that not all wounds can be mended by time but give yourself a bit extra and wait for the sun to shine. Life might now make sense but don’t leave the cinema before the seanse ends.
Like that she grabbed my hand smiling then she stood up shyly saying “I’ll see you around” and left.
Life gets hard but suicide is not a good solution to any problem, maybe you will remember it if dark times come.
Normally I don’t post stories written by others unless it’s a collaboration project like the ones in the past but I would like to share this one. I’ve heard it a year ago when it came out and heard it more than once every now and then think about it. I also wanted to write a similar story but there is no way it would be anywhere near this level. So bellow is a fairly long read, for the lazy ones I will add a link for audio version. All credits go to u/athousandrows so thank him for a good story and a pleasant mind fuck.
Let me start off by saying that I’m not particularly religious. If you asked me if I believed in God, I’d probably just shrug, grunt out a few words about being on the fence about it and continue with my day.
Of course, that was before last night.
My friends are the kinds of people who like wild nights. Crazy parties, snort a bit of coke, take a bit of e in the bathroom, maybe hook up with someone and leave a text on my phone at ten past who-the- fuck-knows telling me they don’t need that ride I’m offering after all.
Not to say I don’t like a drink, I do, it’s just… clubs aren’t my style. Lying low in a pub somewhere, drink in hand, listening to the tv drone on to whatever channel some scruffy guy in the back barked out for… I guess that’s my idea of fun.
So when my friends tell me they want to go out for a night on the town, I say sure. I hang on for the first club, buy a non-alcoholic beer in case my car’s required and try to pretend that I’m having fun. By the time I see them grinding on girls, on guys, when they strike conversation with someone who definitely might be a dealer, well, I decide my services are no longer needed. We aren’t too far out, the night tube is on beck and call and I can always find my car the next day.
That’s when I wander out of the club, look for something a little more rustic. Not that that’s hard to find, not at all.
I found myself in a bit of a state inside of a bar called the Ragged Feather. Wasn’t a fan of the name all that much, but the drinks were cheap and the largest demographic seemed to be middle aged men watching reruns of the football.
I tried to pretend I hadn’t just staggered out of a club with my ears ringing. I slicked my hair back, slipped my phone into my hand and wandered over to the bar. I took a double shot of whiskey and drank it in one hit. Just because I wasn’t at the club didn’t mean I couldn’t have a good time.
I hung at the bar a while on my own, scrolled through my phone pretending I was doing something far more impressive than I really was. I kept an ear out for the guys on the sofas. They’d get vocal every now and then. I think the football was just running highlights, but they were incredibly dedicated to their teams.
I got another whiskey and bled into the background.
Of course, stragglers from clubs are commonplace. It wasn’t long until some scantily dressed women staggered in, laughing, chuckling, pointing for where they wanted to sit. I saw a guy walk in with his friend slung over his shoulder. Catatonic, most likely. He threw his friend onto one of the leather sofas ingrained with beer and smokes and demanded two pints of water and all the peanuts the bar had in stock.
The bartenders seemed bitterly amused.
Some of the girls were taking selfies. Snapchatting their friends who were still at the club. They were ordering shots, gearing themselves up for the next leg of their night.
A couple blokes wandered in with curries in take out trays. I saw someone eat a Big Mac on the outside seating through the window.
This was a night for the young and inebriated and my mind was just dulled enough by the whiskey to enjoy the characters I could watch peaceably without interacting with.
That is, until someone slipped into the seat next to me.
“Do I look like a girl with daddy issues?”
She was of average height, although that wasn’t apparent immediately due to the fact that she was leaning her arms heavily against the bar. She was slim, with short and astoundingly bright red hair. It framed her round face, a face that was marred with smudged eye shadow, smudged lipstick… hell, it looked like her make-up was in the process of melting right from her face. There was a chip knotted into a curl in her hair, just by her forehead.
The drunk side of me was actually tempted to pick it out.
The girl was clearly drunk, and as I looked around the bar, I couldn’t quite place where she had come from. She didn’t belong to the crowd of selfie takers, she wasn’t with the catatonic guys. I hoped for her safety that she wasn’t with the middle-aged men. I tried to look out the window, to see if maybe a group was missing one inebriated, bright haired girl, but I couldn’t. The window had fogged up. Too much heat inside, not enough outside.
“Are you okay?” I asked her.
She pointed her finger at me. “Answer my question,” she slurred.
“Uh.” I really wasn’t sure what to say. I settled on staring at her awkwardly, trying to answer her with the bemused expression on my face.
The girl’s lips curled into a drunken smile. She snorted, placing a hand over her mouth to smother her laughter. It only really aided the deconstruction of her lipstick.
“I do, you know,” she said, pushing herself up a little against the bar. “Have daddy issues, I mean. In case that wasn’t obvious.” She gestured to herself. To the mussed clothing that must have looked quite spectacular when she’d left home that evening. To the stains that looked a lot like old food. The sticky residue on her neck and shoulders that was quite obviously a thrown drink.
“What happened?” I asked her.
Her hair had curled around her neck, I realised. It was sticky with that same substance. She was a wreck.
“I got in a couple of fights, no big deal,” she said, shrugging. “Didn’t start any of course, no, I don’t do that. But my father…”
“Your dad did this to you?”
She smiled brightly. “In a way.”
“Do you need me to call someone?” I already had my phone in my hand. The girl looked like she was probably in her early twenties, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t have been suffering from some kind of paternal abuse. The only number I knew off the bat was Childline, which wasn’t quite appropriate. The police? Jesus, was I going to have to deal with the cops tonight? While my friends were snorting coke not two doors down?
The girl pushed my hand down firmly. She was already shaking her head. “No,” she told me. “I don’t want you to call anyone.” Now her expression changed. It wasn’t the attempted sultry look I’d seen on many girls of her state; it was open and wide and engaging. She wanted something from me and I felt compelled to give it to her. “I want something else.”
“What do you want?” I asked her.
“To tell you a story,” the girl said, before glancing to the bar, “and for you to buy me a drink. The universe is a pain sometimes and I’m afraid I think I might have lost my wallet.”
I laughed. I didn’t know this girl, didn’t know where she’d come from at all. My nights were generally about getting comfortably wasted and making sure my friends weren’t dead in a ditch by the end of it all. I was used to getting hit on every now and then, but even as I was sat on that bar stool with a drink in my hand, I knew that this wasn’t what this was. This girl had no intention of getting into my pants. All she wanted was to talk.
I guess I was okay with that.
“What’s your poison?” I asked her.
Her lips quirked. “Appletini.”
The bar offered a very limited cocktail menu, but by some miracle I was able to order her an Appletini from the list. I ordered a cider to go with it, suddenly a little too aware of where this night could go. I’d unthinkingly supplied this liquored-up stranger with even more alcohol and she had clearly had a rough night of it. A part of my old instinct came back – the same instinct that had me texting my friends every few hours to make sure they hadn’t wandered off to somewhere dangerous beyond the club. With no one but the bartender aware of our existence on these stools, I realised that I was suddenly responsible for this very drunk stranger.
The girl coddled her drink, running her finger delicately over the rim of the muggy martini glass. “This takes me back,” the girl said amiably. She looked at me suddenly, her green eyes startling. “You know what this was called originally?” She smirked before I could answer. “An Adam’s Apple Martini.”
I snorted. “Yeah, I think I’ve heard that before.”
“Of course, it wasn’t actually an apple,” she continued, eyes moving back to her glass. “The texts translated that part wrongly, mostly because you people don’t have a word for it anymore. The fruit was incredibly exotic and, to be honest, it doesn’t exist in this realm of existence. Only Eden.” She laughed dreamily. “And Eden’s long gone.”
I stared at her. “Are you… okay?” It was more honest than the last time I’d asked her. Mostly because I was beginning to feel a little dread creep into my stomach.
“Of course,” the girl said, grinning widely. “Why do you keep asking?”
“I mean,” I stuttered, “I just, now, don’t take this the wrong way or anything but… you look…”
“Like someone poured their drink over me?” the girl asked. “Like someone else threw their kebab on my dress and another unpleasant chap littered me with his fish and chips? That I have been hit, slapped around a bit and left in the gutter for the rats to find me?”
She held my eyes for an incredibly long time before her face broke out into a grin. “Yeah, something like that.”
“Why would they do that?” I asked.
“Why wouldn’t they?” the girl shot back. “People aren’t that great and alcohol makes them worse.” She shrugged. “Sometimes makes them better. Nicer, a little looser in the sack… but mostly just annoying and a little smelly.”
I looked at her, I watched her knock back her drink. She exuded the intelligence to know just how ironic her words were, but she was neither caring nor apologetic about them.
The girl looked at me again. “You bought me a drink. Now you can listen to my story.”
I nodded wordlessly.
She smiled, pointing at the bartender and then at her drink. The bartender was already making her another.
“Eden,” the girl said, reiterating her earlier babble as though the words had only just come out of her mouth. “They always think that’s my fault, you know. The reason Adam and Eve got kicked out of their perfect little nudist paradise.” She shot me a knowing glance. “Only in Eden can you sit on the grass butt naked and not get a pine cone stuck in your crack.”
I blinked. “I’m sorry,” I said. “I’m not following.”
“Sorry,” the girl said. “My story won’t make any sense without a proper introduction.” She reached out her hand. “Hello. My name’s Lucifer.” She winked. “But you can call me Lucy.”
There’s an uncomfortable heat that stretches through your veins when you first go into fight or flight mode. Adrenaline pounds through your blood and all you want to do is get up and go. It overrides everything else.
A lot of things made sense when the girl told me her name. For starters, that she was crazy. She had to be. She looked like she’d been attacked on four separate occasions in one night and up until that moment, I hadn’t known how that could be possible. Behind the melty make-up and dirty clothes, she was rather attractive and her attitude hadn’t come off as catty or rude.
If she’d been going around telling people she was the devil, though? That gets a reaction out of people.
I suddenly felt myself looking at her wrist, down towards her ankles. Did she have some kind of cuff on from one of those mental institutions? Had she broken out of hospital after a nasty bump on the head? Was any of this even happening at all?
I really would have to call the cops.
“I know what you’re thinking,” the girl – Lucy – said. “You’re thinking that I’m crazy, that you need to get out of here. Maybe you even think I’m aggressive.”
“Are you?” I asked her.
“Would I be here with you, drinking Appletinis if I were?” she asked, fluttering her eyelashes.
“Would you look the way you do if you weren’t?” I shot back.
She grinned, toasting her new glass. “Touché.”
Unthinkingly, I clinked my cider against it.
Then I frowned.
She chuckled, leaning closer. “Let’s have a little wager,” she said. “Let me tell you my story and, if you believe me when I’m done, you can’t go about trying to get me locked away somewhere.”
I stared at her. “If I ended up believing you, then why would I do that?”
She smirked, sipping her drink. “You’d be surprised what people do when they believe you’re the devil.”
“And you do this often?” I asked. “Tell people you’re Satan?”
She snorted into her drink. “Not as often as I should. But it’s been a rough day and a Hell of a long lifetime. I’d like to have a chat if that’s alright with you.”
I waved to the bartender for another whiskey. The girl’s eyes glinted with humour. I wasn’t necessarily trapped with her, but a part of me didn’t want to leave without first hearing what she had to say. Besides, at the end of it all I couldn’t just leave a crazy girl to wander around London alone at night.
“So,” I said, taking a swig of my drink. “Eden?”
“Adam and Eve?” I continued. “You’re saying that’s true. God created two humans and we all came from them?”
“God made two prototypes,” Lucy corrected with a raised finger. “My father created angels as his toy soldiers, but he had failed to make anything like himself. After us, it was his next big project and he spent every waking hour of existence slaving over his two prototypes. He gave them a perfect utopia to live inside of, but he wanted to test them. He wanted to know whether they had free will.”
“And did they?”
Lucy’s face soured. “No. My father could never bring himself to go that far. He tempted them with the idea of knowledge beyond their understanding and told them exactly what they could do to claim it as their own. But to be able to create a being that could go against his Law? Oh… my father is a very controlling being. He was afraid to unleash that ability unto them.”
Lucy was very adamant in her delusions, that was clear to me. She spoke about her father with such distaste that I began to feel bad for her. Only someone who had been hurt very badly would have the gall to spite God himself.
“And what?” I asked her, entertaining her delusion. “You were the one that tempted them in the garden? The devil has been a girl this whole time?”
She smiled. “I dabble.” Then she looked at me, raising a brow. “All of humanity thinks that temptation came in the form of a snake. The snake’s legs were taken away as punishment for drawing Eve towards the forbidden fruit.” She laughed, a hard and short sound. “Snakes never had legs and it was not a sin to tempt those poor prototypes into doing what they did next.”
Her shoulders were very tense as she took her next sip, but her eyes were filled with exhilaration. She seemed thrilled to be telling me this.
“I was the favoured child, my father loved and adored me. He named me the light bringer, I was stood at his side during the creation of this Earth. During the creation of humanity.” She pursed her lips, slamming her empty glass against the table. The bartender eagerly went about making another. “My father couldn’t bring himself to go that extra mile, so he asked me to walk amongst the prototypes and tempt them myself. Draw out their desire for the forbidden power he had hinted at.”
“You’re saying God wanted us to know this stuff?” I asked her sceptically.
“I’m saying God was afraid of his own power and wanted very desperately to share what he knew with the creation he had made. Right and wrong, left and right, all that stuff.” Lucy shrugged. “Are you familiar with the story of Prometheus?”
I frowned at her. “Greek, right? They say he stole fire from the gods or something, to help…” The whiskey was making things a little foggy and I struggled with the direction I’d been heading.
Lucy grinned. “Correct,” she said, cutting off my attempt. “Prometheus stole fire from the gods to ensure that humanity progressed. You’ll find that every culture has an idea about where humans got their ability to evolve, to move forward, to create. God was the creator, and he wanted to give that ability to his prototypes. I gave them that ability by tempting Eve to eat the fruit.” She shrugged impassively. “Now the world sees me as the ultimate evil.”
“If what you’re saying is true,” I said slowly, “then God must be just like us.”
Lucy’s lips thinned into a feral smile. “My father is very ego centric. He may have planned to create you in his image, but in the end all he managed was to mould your minds into his. He gave you autonomy, the ability to think for yourselves. His angels were his soldiers and I was his most faithful. Until that day.”
“Angels don’t have free will?”
“No,” Lucy said, “they don’t.”
“And what about the Devil?”
I don’t know why I was suddenly so intrigued, but hearing religious ideals from someone who believed to have lived them herself was quite possibly one of the most interesting things that had ever happened to me. I may have only ever visited church to please my parents as a child, but suddenly I was reawakened to the idea. A part of me was aware of this and afraid of the outcome, but I was just drunk enough not to care at that moment.
“The Devil has will of her own,” Lucy said, tilting her glass towards me with silent appraisal. “By guiding Eve to the tree, something woke inside of me that day and I realised just what I had been missing. Just what my brothers and sisters had been missing. We were obediently following our father for the simple reason that he was our creator, but once I had been given free will, I realised just how pompous and self-entitled he had become. In a lonely, passion filled moment he had decided to create his little human prototypes, only to very quickly realise what giving them their free will would mean.”
“He wouldn’t be able to control them,” I said.
Lucy nodded. “Exactly. And after, he realised quicker still that he could no longer control me.”
“So he sent you to Hell.”
Lucy nearly choked on her drink. She smiled around her glass. “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.”
I sobered a little, straightening in my seat. The people in the bar were suddenly so quiet around me and I no longer cared what they had to say or the characters that they portrayed. The only character I cared for was Lucy.
“I tried to explain to my siblings what had happened in Eden and what had happened to me by default, but they wouldn’t listen to me. They didn’t understand free will – how could they? I only knew it because I’d been given it by mistake. At that moment, I didn’t even know that I had free will, only that I was suddenly aware of all of my father’s flaws. My siblings couldn’t see those flaws and so they thought I had suddenly turned cruel and was abandoning our father by exposing him as a sham for the ruler we all thought him to be.”
Lucy sighed heavily. “Adam and Eve and all the creations that followed were booted out of my father’s perfect little Utopia. Now they had his knowledge, my father was terrified of what he had done. And after what had happened to me, I could recognise his terror and understand the loneliness he had felt that had guided him into using me in the first place.” Lucy’s eyes were heavy-lidded, her sadness was almost palpable. “I thought that- I thought that he would want to spend even more time with me than before. After all, we were more alike than any of his other children. But he became distant; quiet. He played around with his little humans every once in a while, but mostly he condemned them. He blamed them for his weakness.” She smiled weakly. “He blamed me.”
Lucy’s story was turning more and more into that of a child with a distant, somewhat abusive father. I had known many kids with a background like hers, and now I was beginning to fear just how much of her story was rooted in truth. I’d heard that it was easier to sink into fantasy when you had been abused, and I wondered if that was the reason for her story. For her desperation to share it with me – a complete and total stranger.
I respected her wager. Whether or not I liked it, I felt compelled to let her tell me her whole story before I tried to judge or unravel it. I sat quietly, letting her come around as she played with the last of her drink.
“It became clear,” Lucy said after a long moment’s pause, “that I no longer belonged where I was. I couldn’t follow my father’s plan because I could see that he no longer had one. My siblings refused to see reason and so, eventually, I was met by many of them, headed by my father. He told me all that I feared, he told me that I no longer belonged where I was. I wasn’t an angel anymore. I was no longer his light bringer. His Lucifer. I was a mutation of his will. And so he extracted me from grace. And I fell.”
A long silence stretched between us, only interrupted when the bartender poured us two new drinks. Lucy drank hers reflectively. I didn’t touch mine.
“I am afraid,” Lucy said quietly, “that this is the part that generally makes people want to punch me in the face.”
“Why?” I asked. “Because your dad threw you out?” I paused, trying to abide to her metaphor. “That he put you in Hell?”
Lucy laughed sadly. “Ah, humans. My father gave you his way of thinking and look at you.” She shook her head. “No, not because he put me in Hell.”
“I fell to Earth,” Lucy said. “Father gave me dominion of the one place he thought I would fit in. Humans had free will, so did I. What is the saying? A match made in Heaven?” She snorted dismally. “Of course, that’s not quite right, is it? When I fell, I was faced with a humanity that was so different from my father’s little prototypes.”
Her tone had changed. There was an aggression behind her words that began to unsettle me all over again.
“I saw emperors and kings, governments and churches. I saw corporations who claimed to be rulers, presidents and big fat dictators. And I watched. I watched as humanity fought and lost, and finally, just finally, they gave up altogether. They were no longer able to rise up to all the greed and control set upon them. There was just too much to change and humans soon realised they just weren’t as free as they thought they were. Sure, they live under the illusion that they have free lives, but most of them simply do not.” She clicked her tongue. “I grew to loathe you all.”
Then, she took another hit of her drink.
“I can see what you mean,” I said, allowing my gaze – for the first time since meeting her – to graze over the other individuals in the bar. At the girls playing with their phones, the boys trying desperately to sober up, the men enraptured with their game of football on the telly. We all led very different lives, and we were all here to get drunk, to lose ourselves in entertainment. It hadn’t been the first time that I’d wondered what we were hiding from by doing this. And I knew then that I wasn’t the only person to think it.
“You hide behind your alcohol and poor choices and pretend you have free will,” Lucy said, waving her hand across the room. No one paid us any attention. “It’s true – my father gave you the will to make those decisions, but you squander it. The free will I fell to provide to all of you, the free will I was given by a twisted mistake, and you make a mockery of it. You follow senseless leaders without questioning them, you abide by laws made centuries ago that no longer make sense. You do these things because you have given up on the opportunity to follow the will of your own, not of others.”
“That isn’t all of us, though, is it?” I asked her, trying for some reason to defend our species from the mad young woman. “Because you see it on the news all the time, don’t you? People do rise up, we do protest. People can make a difference.”
Lucy laughed bitterly, nibbling the rim of her glass. “Really?” she said. “You can sit here and say that it can’t be all bad because of the few that refuse to conform? Those you call your rebels? They make up for it all?” She grinned around her glass. “By that logic, I am the biggest rebel of them all. Am I expected to make up for all your sorry mistakes?”
“By your logic,” I said, “you should be punishing it, right? If that’s what this metaphor is all about.” I laughed, I couldn’t help myself. I took a sip of my drink. “Is this whole story just so you can tell me that you think we’re all going to Hell? If so, I think I can see why people want to punch you.”
Lucy didn’t say a word. Simply, she watched me. It felt unnerving to have someone like her watching me like that, with an intelligence that went beyond anything I’d come across at gone midnight in a seedy bar. The drunkenness in her eyes was no longer present, her face wasn’t flushed like before and even her makeup couldn’t represent the mess I’d seen when she’d first appeared on the stool by my side. It was like I was looking at someone else entirely.
And I was afraid.
“Let’s review what you’ve said,” Lucy said slowly, articulately. She wasn’t slurring. Had she been slurring before? “You think I’m going to tell you that humanity is going to Hell because you refuse to use the gift I gave you.” Her nails curled into the bar. “My father may have been the one to guide me, but I paid for his mistakes. I am the one responsible for your will in the eyes of your species, but that was never true. You are responsible for what you do here, not me.”
She pursed her lips, tapping the bar as a bartender filled her drink again. “Tell me, do you remember my mentioning Hell at any point during my story, or was that just you?”
I opened my mouth to answer, but something faltered. My lips trembled and I slammed them shut.
Lucy smiled, taking a sip. “Thought not.” She looked away, eyes scanning the room lazily. “What I did say is something that is indeed mentioned in your scriptures. My father gave me dominion of Earth. A place filled with free will. Free will that goes to waste.” Her lip twisted. “Humans sin all the time. Not because of me, not because of evil or my dominion over this place. Fact is, I don’t lift a finger. I don’t, because I don’t see the point. You make terrible decisions and follow mindless leaders, you do bad things and you make a mess of your Earth.” Lucy’s eyes lit up. “Do you know how much suffering is happening all over the planet right now? How many people are dying of illnesses that could have easily been cured, but aren’t because of the selfishness of humanity? Do you know how many children are being abused, raped, forced into marriage? How many people have been forced to become soldiers in meaningless wars? How many humans have killed for ideals they don’t believe in?”
I stayed very quiet. There was nothing I could say. Lucy’s words were unbearably honest and every sentence sliced into me like a blade. I felt cold and sick and terrified.
“War, famine, pestilence, death, these things are all present and they have nothing to do with me or to do with any deity. They are all here because of you. Not because of your free will, but your inability to use it.”
Lucy smiled at me, a grin so cold and unnatural that I felt like I should run all over again. But I stayed where I was, frozen to my very core, because I wanted to hear what she had to say. Because I needed to.
“And here’s the kicker,” Lucy said. “Because this is the part that actually enrages people enough to kick me.” She winked. “Hell isn’t what happens after you die. Hell is right here, right now. Somewhere through the many scriptures, a few words got crossed over and people started thinking that Hell was a punishment after you die. Fact is, Hell is Earth. My Earth. God gave this place to me to do with it what I will and I… I refuse to do anything.”
“What are you saying?” I asked, because I was suddenly very desperate.
“Exactly what you think,” Lucy said, toasting her glass. I didn’t reciprocate, and she laughed. A light and airy sound. “I had so many plans for your species, I wanted for us to rejoice in our free will together, to create a place that was free from the cruelty and power my father exuded over the angels – his first borns. I wanted to make a real utopia. Unfortunately, you humans just don’t want that.” She shrugged. “My father sent me down here thinking I had become one of you. All that I have learned is that he gave you much more of his image than he ever intended.”
“Stop,” I said. “This isn’t funny anymore.”
“Of course it isn’t funny,” Lucy said, grinning even wider to prove her sick irony. “Humans punish themselves by sitting by and doing nothing. They have made their own Hell and, you know what’s worse – what’s ultimately worse? – some of you are so blind to it that you think your life is Heavenly.”
She didn’t wait for me to ask what she meant, she simply barrelled forward: “The rich and powerful, those in positions that steal from everyone else? They get a taste of the good life, that’s very true. Then they die and they don’t go to Hell. They come back here, to Earth. Which is Hell.” She tipped her head. “Are you following?”
“Reincarnation,” Lucy said quickly, she practically purred the words. “A neat little trick to make sure your souls stay here forever. You get a taste of the good life every once in a while, a handful of you at a time, and that’s enough for you to believe that this is some kind of real middle-ground. That you aren’t living Hell every day. Then, you die. You die for a moment and then you’re in the body of someone facing the realities of Hell. But of course, you never remember the time you spent in a better life. A part of you just has that inkling to hope. That’s all. Hope makes you think that it can all get better.”
She slammed her drink so hard against the counter that it shattered. I didn’t do anything, not even when flecks of glass littered my hands. I could only stare at her, a tightness in my chest constricting my very soul. No one else in this bar mattered in this moment, but of course that was what she had been saying this whole time, hadn’t she? None of them noticed the scene, they were caught up in their own realities – their own Hells.
The bartender didn’t clean the mess. The glass lay there, remnants of Lucy’s words lying in a stolid mass on the streaked wooden surface.
“It never gets better,” Lucy spat. “You are stuck in a loop and, until you do something about it, you will never be free. None of you. And I won’t do a thing to stop it.”
“How?” I asked. I don’t know when I started seeing the girl in front of me as more than a girl. But with a weakness threatening to pull me apart, I stared at the bright haired thing in front of me and I saw something more than a human in her early twenties. I saw more than a girl suffering abuse from her father.
I saw a fallen angel. I saw a being with scars buried so deep that they existed beyond this realm of seeing entirely. I saw something that I would never be able to write down in words, no matter how long I lived.
“How do we change this?” I begged.
But Lucy didn’t answer me. I didn’t blame her for that. Blame gets thrown around so often and I knew then that she was sick of that. Sick of being blamed for our mistakes.
So I changed tactics. “Why me?”
It was an honest question and I think somewhere deep down, Lucifer respected that honesty.
Which is why she said, “When you first saw me, you were afraid for my safety. When I told you I was the devil, you wanted to lock me away, but still, you did so because you were afraid for me and not for yourself. You didn’t wish to harm me, not even when I told you who I was and what I could be capable of for changing your sorry lives. You are a good person, but I am afraid that means nothing when you don’t have the will to do anything with it.”
She smiled at me sympathetically. The devil, showing sympathy for the human that sat across from her at the bar. It was surreal and, for a few heavy moments, I truly thought I must be dead. There was no other way to explain what I was seeing, who I was speaking with. What I had just heard.
“What am I supposed to do?”
Lucy reached out to me. She placed a hand on my shoulder. Her hand was cold and warm at the same time, and I felt my blood boil where her fingers scraped my skin.
And I knew.
Sharing a story like this isn’t easy. Hell, it might be the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Good thing there’s no such thing as Hell, then, right?
The fact of the matter is simple. The world is a mess because we refuse to change anything. The devil herself walks among us and she desperately wants to make our lives better, but she won’t. She won’t, because we won’t. We have to prove our will to her before she is willing to do anything herself. We have to be good to each other, to help us all to be free.
Of course, Lucifer told me one last thing before she left that bar. One thing that will stick with me until this body is nothing but rot in the dirt.
“You can tell as many people as you want, but take a good look at me. I have told five other humans this night the same things I have told you, and this was their reaction. They have hurt me, burned me, thrown their food and drink at me. Humans are afraid of their free will and they find it so much easier to hurt than to own up for their own inadequacies. You will only be free when you stop seeing yourself in the same way my father sees himself.”
So that’s what I’ll leave you with. Lucifer won her wager that night and I let her walk out the door.
And I beg you to do the same. If the devil approaches you one night, listen to what she has to say, and listen to what I have been able to tell you of our meeting.
The devil is real and she doesn’t want to torture us.
Every now and then I fantasize about writing a book so sometimes I write down a line or two sometimes character descriptions etc. This is the second time I post a snippet from the works so I can be guided further by your silence.
The man walked briskly through the crowded street, having his head above the crowd his destination was in eyesight. Neons and holograms distracted the passing people while his attention was caught by two artificial intelligence officers scanning a couple at a junction. His eyes sprinted between the officers and his destination constantly wondering if they will notice him, being a head taller and wearing a fedora didn’t help him to blend in between the people of the current age. He did not need any problems today, he knew he wouldn’t hold his temper today and it would cause a sea of trouble. The officers turned to face the tall man when an ambulance flew by above their heads with sirens blaring grabbing everyone’s attention. This short distraction was enough to reach the destination in time.
The man entered the establishment with a loud thud of heavy oak doors slamming behind him.
“Welcome to the Black Jasmin, ahh.. master Magni, we are ready for the day to start. And your friend Mithra is here already.” said the bartender to the tall man.
“Very well. I noticed two ARTCHIES on the corner so keep it classy today in case they visit” replied Magni to his employee. “Yes, sir.”
The place was a large bar with a lounge behind it where Mithra was sitting. Walking into this place was like jump in time. A jump from 2324 to the nineteenth century. Warm wood dominated most of the space and structures with a gentle touch of candle lights and the smell of whiskey. Soft carpets muffled the steps, Jazz is playing from instruments hung in the air without a soul beside them. Speakers being purely decorative in case of inspection from the AMG.
“Mithra, what brings you here so early my friend?” asked Magni
“I’ve seen something strange last night, and don’t know if I imagined it or not”
“I’m not in the mood to guess, just spill it Mithra”
“I saw a girl yesterday.. walking down in the crowd, she stopped by a dead bird, snapped her fingers and it flew away. I’m not sure what happened because she did it by a flying scanner” explained Mithra.
“You must have imagined it or just thought it was dead” said Magni with slight irritation
“I followed her, she did it 4 more times on the way home…” added Mithra
“In my book, it can only mean one of two things, either you were high or she is something that is thought to be extinct. Since you know where to find her we should bring her here” replied Magni.
“I was hoping you will say that by the way, Marcus wants to join the hunters”
“Have you tested him?”
“Not yet. I will today.”
“Make it entertaining please.”
“Wouldn’t have it any other way, how do you plan to bring the girl here if she will panic?” asked Mithra
“She won’t, I’ll just talk to her, worst case use a spell or just brake her legs, if you are right she will heal.”
“Damn it Magni, it’s a young girl! no breaking legs this time.” barked Mithra
“You don’t know what she is! she might be young or have few millenniums like us” he hissed ” Anyway you know where to find her so let’s get out of here, I don’t want to lose my temper here when ARTCHIES come in” added Magni
“Why do you keep calling them that?” puzzled Mithra
“ARTificial Cops something and something, I do not remember now. I didn’t come up with it but it stuck around” he explained.
The tall man left the establishment looking nervously around accompanied by a slightly shorter man whose skin and name suggested a Persian origin. His outfit was modern opposing to Magni, he wore black military kevlar combat trousers and boots paired with now out of fashion leather jacket. Fashion did not matter to Mithra but utility and this leather jacket comfortably concealed his wide range of knives underneath which looked like a second rib cage made of sharpest blades. Once they entered the busy street they vanished from the eyes of whoever was watching them.
“Obviously you have an idea what she might be, it’s your forte so what are the options? I want to know where to go if she is not home.” inquired Mithra.
“My guess is that since she wasn’t detected by the scanner than it’s the older type of magic thought to be extinct that’s why the government doesn’t know how to detect it. That would mean she can be a druid or a necromancer. I am pretty sure we slaughtered all the necros and you would feel the foul energy in the air. Druids on the other hand simply disappeared one day without a trace and nobody knows what happened so this is the more likely possibility.” explained Magni.
“Did I ever tell you that you talk too much? and killing those necros were some good times brother.”
“You do remember that I can make your balls explode with a snap of my fingers right?” he grinned.
“I always wondered if I will be able to slice off your fingers before you snap them. Anyway, it didn’t feel like she was a necro so I suggest passing by a few animal clinics on the way.”
Magni and Mithra searched for hours but finding one person in a city of millions is hard, yet for those skilled hunters there were no impossible tasks, for thousands of years the worked together, fought together and killed together. From different land and different mothers yet they became brothers.
“Knock again” said Magni
“She’s not home” answered Mithra
“Wait” ordered Magni then he whispered something and barely noticeable pulse of energy emanated from his body. “The apartment is empty” he added.
“That’s new, what was that?” asked confused Mithra
“Scanning spell, comes in handy”
“So what was the point of me knocking?”
“You tell me” grinned Magni.
“I am not going to wait here all day so leave your Black Jasmin card with not or invitation and maybe she will come to us, and include a free bottle to hasten it.” suggested Mithra turning away from his friend. And so he did slightly annoyed at the thought there was no opportunity to break any bones.
The bartender greeted the two men warmly once again letting them know there was no trouble in their absence. Few guests were sitting inside chatting away sipping on various coloured liquids.
“Ahh Marcus you are here” exclaimed Mithra
“Good day sir, I heard you might have a test for me” said Marcus
“Now you hear words that are not said? anyway the most important rule, the prey should never know the hunter was around.”
We, scraps of night day and dawn with every word not said more action is taken, wormholes of the mind pull us in further but let’s not be mistaken the was nothing fake. Eyes looking past the veil into the soul’s end, gaze worth diamonds quickly spills on the floor like dropped marbles.
They, follow each other stealing glances trying to catch the scent of the fleeting romances, seemingly hopeless in their endeavour nonetheless happier when together.
You, awe strikingly bodacious, smart and gracious controlling the situations in a heartbeat until you felt my heart beat. Flood of emotions won’t quit so just ask and I’ll show up to make you upbeat.
I, am perplexed don’t know if I can trust the thoughts in my head. Who I am and who I want to be cannot connect, I push away the ones I care about the most, I don’t want no one to see I’m vulnerable broken and usable. No questions are needed, I just want to feel alive let me thrive.
Us, sitting together like in the back of the class under watchful eyes hoping for our skin to pass under the fingers as the tension in the air lingers. Sensory deprivation sends our minds into starvation dreading another separation.
Them, overthinking feels like sinking, trying to predict every possibility without such ability causes instability. Throwing decoys to feel the grounds when in fact we row one boat unsure what keeps us afloat. The undertow of emotions keeps the things in motion until like K. Chopin’s awakening we walk into the ocean.
After 7 months break it is hard to come up with anything that doesn’t feel like you put your hand in a blender but hopefully there will be more where this came from.
This is from a Polish song by one of my favourite artists I wanted to share with you, but can’t translate it word for word so that it will make sense to you. This is his story done my way.
A bunch of friends decided to travel to the Baltic Sea in search of some fun. As standard, they had few pre-drinks on a bench they were tagging, deciding where to go. Few broken bottles and a pill later they found this party on a beach, wooden hut, loud music and strobe lights, DJ shaking up the walls with some RnB from the radio. The place was jammed but they went in any way.
Once there everyone went their own way, some of them went to the dance floor the rest to the bar, our main hero liked being alone while observing strangers and sipping Jack D. Unfortunately the drink didn’t seem to help him with building up the courage to talk to some girls. Yet then an odd thing happened, a girl stopped right in front of him giving him a warm smile, her very large eyes combined with the hair made her look like one of the anime characters he likes. His heart fluttered and he felt as if an electric wire touched his very spine, pain discomfort and pleasure all mixed together, it sure made the sparks fly. Stunned by her looks he wondered if this is what love feels like but before any of them said a word the girl was gone, standing at the exit door of this party. With one finger she indicated him to follow, he looked around to make sure she means him and not someone else. He finished his shot of liquid courage and started to squeeze through the crowd passing his friends who didn’t even notice him, puffing up like peacocks to other girls. He saw her standing on the beach, her smile melted his heart while her gaze looked straight into it. Then she turned around and jogged away giggling playfully. Our hero shot out after her like cupids arrow passing few couples who looked like they are in a french kissing contest, after all, it was middle of summer and the full moon was out.
They were running like that for a while now, he shouted few times for her to stop but she ignored him and kept gliding effortlessly over the sand. By now the sand was getting wetter until he felt the edge of the water at his feet. He noticed her figure is slim and fit and almost tripped and fell when he ran by a thrown off t-shirt then shorts, bra and panties. The excitement with adrenalin and drugs had his heart racing, the guys will never believe him that some random chick just threw off her clothes for him he thought. He heard her laughter from the water and a soft voice saying “come to me” he didn’t consider if it’s smart or not and started stripping leaving his phone and wallet on the beach alcohol and extasy dulled his awareness of these cold dangerous waters.
He started swimming in the direction where he heard her last, calling for her he shuttered when he grabbed a wig of hair floating. “Is this a joke?” he asked after hearing giggling behind him, there she was, head above water laughing and dived again in a wave.
Then he suddenly screamed from the pain as something sliced his skin at the back of the knees. He flailed his arms trying to stay above water, scared to think what could have sliced his legs he watched the party bathed in the moonlight. Profanity flowed from him like his blood and stopped short when she emerged right in front of him. Milky grey skin with lack of ears and eyes on the side of the head triggered the primal fear he never felt before. In vain he tried to throw punches, she just flashed a menacing row of sharp teeth which he found out are razor sharp. With one quick bite, he lost 3 fingers after the last punch. She bit him by the ankle and pulled far from the shore. Then a sound pierced his ears, a hope-shattering ethereal keen like he never heard before followed by a sickening scene. Like a swarm of eels, children welcomed their mother slithering around in the growing pool of blood. The little ones loved playing with food taking tiny bites, screaming in pain he begged them to stop while they kept tearing muscles like a bull terrier a tire. Every now and then the mother grabbed him to keep him from drowning when they were getting to the bones.
It was the first and last time he felt such a cold when they sliced open his stomach, and before the freezing waters took him, in the glow of the moon, to his foolish love his heart gave out all that it could give.
The three of us entered the compound, it looked almost like a bunker. In fact, it was fairly similar to the nuclear bunker that my parents showed me videos of that they had to spend few years there when they were young. Yet this one was old abandoned I can’t imagine it housing more than 20 people. Luna held my hand and with Roman gave me a tour of the place to which I paid no attention. All this time my mouth was ajar in surprise so long I haven’t noticed I am parched, my eyes watery and a kaleidoscope of emotions rushed through me at exhausting speed. I might have not seen Luna in 10 years yet she still could feel my emotions as if she was my twin. She told me to sit and offered water which I gulped down faster than desert sand. Flashbacks of the past made me dizzy, I wondered how we ended up separate, why we haven’t met sooner it was ten fucking years. Who is Amruth and if he can still read my mind from a distance? Although it was of least importance at the moment I still wondered If my best friend Luna is in a relationship with my childhood crush.
I regained my composure and started thinking clearly, clearer than ever which was a strange feeling for me Luna interrupted my thoughts “It’s a local plant we add to water, we don’t know what it is but it makes your mind a lot sharper, I’m sure you feel it by now” I just nodded. “Agnes, aren’t you going to say anything? Are you not happy to see us?” asked Roman entering the room again.
“I..I..I am happy, sorry, I’m still in shock, I thought I will never see you again, I was almost killed and then you came. Aliens…friends…code, you mentioned a code to help you return, It’s incomplete I have another page let’s try to combine them and get out of this horrible place. The thing is I just can’t read it” I replied accelerating with each word. “Incomplete? another page? how do you know that? never mind, Show me the page this is mine an let’s have a look” Roman said with excitement and reached for the code to lay out on the table. As he did that my stomach acted like a ball in the pinball machine, the code that Roman presented was completely different from the page I had.
Romans face expression saddened yet his eyes sparked up. “Ahh this brings back some memories although I don’t think it’s part of the code.” he sighed. “What are you talking about? what memories?” was my next question. “You really can’t read it? Don’t you remember when we were little? Your grandfather loved all kinds of encryptions and thought them to us. He always left such notes for us to decode with instructions how to find a hidden stash of sweets our parents don’t know about, how could you forget that?” explained Roman. “I think I start to remember, yes, notes and sweets, yet I don’t remember any encryptions, can you read it?” I asked eagerly “Give me few minutes”
While roman studied the note I caught up a little with Luna, she even brought materials left over in this place that turned out to be sheets of cloth. Without hesitation, I took one and wrapped it around me like a toga to eliminate the constant cold. “I will find you some better clothes later” Luna said. Roman came back to us now with 2 sheets of paper and a thin piece of charcoal he used to write with.
“Fitting outfit Agnes. I decoded the note, it is just like the ones from our childhood, look. The face under the text is the iconic Julius Caesar, we learned about him in school. There are also roman numerals on it, this indicates it is a Caesars cipher, To solve it you need to arrange the alphabet in a circle, that numeral is your key which is 7, now take every single letter and substitute it with a letter 7 positions further. Here is the translation.” explained Roman giving me another page.
i am human. i am here for thirteen years trying to make contact with my family. i have shelter food technology and knowledge. even found a typing machine. if you are still sane i would like to meet and work together. there is a way out. in two days i will leave a trail of red stones to meet at down i mean no harm. ha la lau are learning our language thus the code.
I have read it and almost fainted, that plant sure makes your mind sharper because I now found dots that could be connected I wish I have seen before. I started to backtrack the events to find odd things. Amruth, he could not read the note because it was a code and not English, he was nice to me since he hoped I will teach him. The next part scared me, his throat it was clearly visible and blue the man who grabbed me in front of my shelter and told me to be quiet had a long beard, that man spoke aloud, only now I realized that Amruth only used telepathy. Was the bearded man trying to hide us from Amruth? did he use his shaman skills to make me not notice the switch of the person who led me away? The codemaker is here for 13 years. Thirteen years ago I was told my grandfather died in an accident, then there are the last words of my mother before I woke up here, ‘Find your gra…’
Are all these things be connected? could my grandfather be here somewhere? or is it just apophenia?
Here is a quote I came across that struck home and think everyone should read, especially when you struggle to make time for the things you want the most:
“And despite this inexorable fight, promise me you will never lose faith in yourself, that you’ll never cease from walking, for there’s no need to run.” -A.R
The phone kept ringing in my hand but I couldn’t answer it due to the shock paralysing my body. Strange noise filled the shaking room and then part of the roof was just torn away, disappointingly Tony and Roman were the first ones out rush the door. Another part of the roof fell inside the room, but thankfully Luna moved me out of the way saving my life and snapping me out of the shock. Some part of it must have struck me because my bracelet has broken and lost in the chaos. As I noticed the bracelet is gone I alow saw that the box from the game had a hole town in it with a faint light shining through it. And then really grotesque hands coming out of it and reaching in my direction. Luna fainted at the sight and I just cried looking at the long fingers protruding in my direction. I felt the hand grip my wrist and at the same time, the front door burst open under the foot of my father rushing in together with my mother.
“No! we are too late..”
“Mom! help, I’m sorry I didn’t know!”
“William, quick, the tracker!”
I was being constantly pulled towards the shining hole in the game, my father pulled out a small square black device out of his back pocket and threw it at me. I barely managed to catch it as the hands yanked me harder now, losing my balance and falling towards the light the last thing I heard was my mother trying to say something that was cut off.
“Find your gr…”
I relive these events often in my dreams hoping I could remember more details but to no avail. It has been ten years now of waking up hungry and cold, thankfully through my childhood, my grandfather often took me for camping in the woods where I learned how to make shelter and find food in case of an emergency, and now I’m glad I never tried to thwart his efforts to teach me.
I have one stealthy shack on the ground and one on a tree if I need to run away from animals or the Ha La Lau, I see them sometimes wandering nearby alone or in packs. I avoid contact with them fearing they will kill me on sight like many animals they do. Maybe they won’t, after all, we have practically the same shape, but then that’s all we have in common.
As for the food, I found the most similar plants to what we have on earth and planted them nearby, occasionally I hunt for small animals, mostly hope they will fall into my trap. I try to search for some more resources during the day but I’m still afraid to wander off too far. Tonight I was awoken by a branch being broken close by, I instinctively clutched a sharp piece of metal I once found and used as a knife and peeked out. I heard a rustle and then silence. It wasn’t the Ha La Lau because they glow at night and I haven’t seen or heard an animal…
If you know someone suitable for this challenge feel free to let them know about it maybe they will join us. Or maybe you? do you want to write another part of this story? let me know in the comments.