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Sunday, 27 April 2014

The Art of Flight.

Two boys were sitting on the castle wall, looking over the grounds, the lights of their hometown shining some way in the distance in a bubble of chaos far away from the calm of the castle. The keep was of Norman design and despite most of it having crumbled away, you could still make out the bailey, the motte however, was now less of a raised hill and more of a sheer drop to the ground below. The rooms that were left intact within the castle were now filled with discarded bottles of cheap beer and cider, amongst the array of plastic wrappers for various sweets and sugary snack foods. It was rare that the ruins were deserted; usually they were bustling with teenagers doing what it was they did best, but for some reason, that night, the castle was vacant.


  The bigger of the two boys was sat still, staring contemplatively towards the town, the other, a small, timid, but excitable child, was fidgeting and kicking his legs against the wall as he struggled to make himself comfortable.


“This wall isn’t comfy!” he exclaimed after some time of squirming.


“I know, Barry.” The other said, simply, “But you’ll just have to get used to it.”


“Why are we here?”


“Because I wanted to come here,” he bluntly replied.


“Is there nothing else we can do, James?” Barry inquired, clearly displaying his boredom purely by the tone of his voice. Barry’s whining irritated James in a way that he was struggling not to snap at him.


“Do you have any better ideas?” Barry thought for a bit, biting his lip and looking up into the night sky, before shaking his head in defeat. “Well then, just shut up about it, and enjoy the view.”


“It is… pretty, don’t you think?”


“Yeah, Barry, yes it is.”


Barry threw his arms out either side of him, narrowly avoiding hitting James in the face, “I wish I could fly, don’t you, James? Looking at all this, it just makes me think how much better it would look… from up there!” He raised his head, and again, looked inquisitively at the stars.


James turned his head to look at Barry gazing up at the stars, his dark eyes studying him, almost maliciously. He licked his lips before saying the words.


“You know that you can fly, don’t you, Barry?”


Barry looked at him, puzzled, “what?”


“Yeah, you can fly.” James’ throat had gone dry, partly due to excitement, partly due to fear. He swept the hair out of his eyes and turned to look out over the scenery, he couldn’t look him in the eyes for this, not even when it was this dark.


“I can?” Barry questioned, a slight sense of excitement rising in his voice, “but how?”


“Anyone can fly, they just need a big enough drop to get started-“


“Really? Seriously?” Barry was now visibly excited by the prospect of his potential flight.


“Yeah, no kidding, you can do it any time, you could do it now, we’re in the perfect spot for it.”


Barry stopped, his smile dropping from his face as he gazed down toward the ground. He suddenly became extremely aware of how precarious their choice of seat was, he couldn’t see the grass clearly beneath him, it was too dark; all he could see was a void of blackness with only a hint of dark, murky green.


“Boy, that’s a long drop down, don’t you think?”


“Yeah, it is, that’s why it’s perfect for this.” James clasped his hands together tightly to stop himself from shaking. He still couldn’t bring himself to look Barry in the eye, he knew if he looked at him he would lose it.


“Are you sure?”


“Positive.”


“How do you know?”


James thought back, his teeth clenched at the memory, “I’ve seen it happen before.”


“You have?


“Yeah- there was a man who lived in the same building me and mother do, I was in my bedroom, looking out of the window, when he flew past.”


“He did?”


“He did, mother said he jumped from the roof, he was trying to fly, and just before he reached the bottom, he did it, and he flew away.” James looked down, his eyes trying to focus on the ground below, but like Barry he was unable to see anything other than a murky, green shadow waning in a deep, sea of darkness. “We’re higher up here than the man who jumped from my building, so you’ll definitely do it.”


Some of the excitement, and colour, had returned to Barry’s face. He had started to fidget again, but this time it wasn’t due to lack of comfort, it was purely the anticipation of flying that had caused this elation.


“This is so cool!” He put his hand on James’ shoulder, “you’re my best friend, James!”


“Oh,” He looked Barry in the face, for a brief moment he developed a lump in his throat which he quickly rid himself of, “thanks, you too.”


Barry smiled wider than James had ever seen, then he began to shuffle forward so he was teetering on the edge of the wall. James’ heart began to thump wildly. Barry looked into the blackness, and after a minute of deliberation he shuffled back slightly.


“What’s wrong?”


“I don’t think I can do it.”


“Why not?”


“I’m not brave; I’m not brave like you.” Barry looked as though he might cry, his eyes becoming somewhat moist and his freckled cheeks growing red with embarrassment. James placed his hand firmly on Barry’s back, pressing firmly against his spine as he gently patted him comfortingly.


“I can promise you, Barry, you are way braver than I will ever be.”


Barry chuckled as he rubbed his reddening eyes, “you’re just lying to make me feel better.”


“No, seriously, if you even consider doing this, you are already braver than I am.”


“Really?”


“Really,” James smiled.


“Okay- okay, I won’t let you down, I’ll do it! Watch me fly!”


Once again, he shuffled forward, his hands clutching onto the edge of the crumbling stone wall. He began to breathe faster, his skinny arms trembling as he held on. His legs felt so completely exposed and powerless as they hung over the void aimlessly. His eyes searched for the ground as he bit his tongue in the hope he wouldn’t shout out and show James how much of a coward he was. Then it hit him, something clicked in his brain and the realisation came; he was going to be fine, he was going to fly, there was nothing to be afraid of. The fear he felt in his heart, in his mind, in his stomach, it all dissipated into nothing and he could finally do what he wanted to do. He turned to James and smiled at him, “thank you.”


Then he pushed himself forward, and he fell.


James listened and heard the crunch as Barry’s body hit the ground.


Now there was nothing but silence.


James got up from his seat and began to walk away, but something made him turn back and look back over the edge of the wall. He couldn’t see Barry anywhere, he was really gone. James smiled as he felt a weight lift from his shoulders, then a single tear fell from his eye.


“Mother said I was too old for imaginary friends anyway.”


He found his way down to where Barry would have fell and still failed to find him. Maybe things worked out better than he had hoped; maybe Barry had actually mastered the art of flight and flew away. The thought filled him with happiness as he walked the long, dark walk home.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Land of the Living

Border Security, Night Watchman: Peter Horák

January 12th 2015.

Entry 1:

19:15 - Gunfire beyond my range of vision; the sound was dull, but familiar. I don’t know if anyone is dead, although it is rare to hear gunfire without an intended target, but I suppose I can be optimistic just this once:

Deer - Deceased.

The chances of the victim being an animal are about as likely as this conflict ending within the next few months, that’s to say, minimal.

21:00 - Ivan perked up, he could sense something out there, I knew he could, his eyes were wide and his ears were twitching.

“What is it, boy?”

I asked him several times but he didn’t move, he simply sat where he was, looking into the darkness. It made me uneasy.

22:30 – Screaming, female, I requested someone investigate, but apparently we only step over the border under extreme circumstances, I’m beginning to wonder exactly what those circumstances might be.

22:45 - Currently there is no sound, and no sign of movement anywhere beyond the border, although the screaming lasted for a good 15 minutes, it stopped suddenly, I’m trying not to think about it.

00:15 – Jakub has come to relieve me of my duty, we played cards for about ten minutes before I left to rest, Ivan has not settled down, it took a lot of coercion for him to leave the post with me, even now all he does is stare out of the window into the darkness beyond.

January 14th 2015.

Entry 2:

Patricia Novak – Deceased.
Olga Peterson – Deceased (With Child).

Those are the two of the five who could be identified, by dawn’s first light we found the bodies of four women and one man propped up against the walls. Cause of death: Multiple shots to the head, abdomen, limbs- everywhere. Someone dragged them here, what for? Maybe it was a warning, a message, or maybe some sick, unsympathetic fuck just thought it would be fun. How funny is the price of freedom, the freedom to gun a defenceless person to the ground and play with their corpse? Apparently it’s priceless.

19:45 – Ivan hasn’t changed, for a trained guard dog he is one of the most mellow german shepherds I have ever encountered, he still senses something, but he’s unwilling to bark, or give any sign that he knows something is wrong.

21:00 – I can see smoke. The village closest to us is burning, maybe it’s in my mind, but I think I can hear them screaming. What is our purpose here? We sit idly by, watching, waiting, but never acting when these atrocities are committed less than a mile away from us. ‘Don’t move’ they tell us, ‘stay put’ they say, but they don’t have to listen to the bullets hitting their targets, they don’t have to clean up the bodies of civilians every other night.

22:30 – We had refugees at our gates. They wouldn’t let us let them in, they wouldn’t let us help. Some of them gave up and ran, some of them persisted. Those who ran where gunned down by the soldiers waiting in the forest, those who stayed were gunned down just the same, and we watched.
Some of us fired on them, maybe even killed a few, but those actions were condemned and met with scorn. Reduced rations for the next month, like they fed us enough to be grudging of less. Apparently our job is to protect the border, not to aid the citizens who are not our side. No, not citizens, let’s call them what they are, HUMANS, we were not allowed to help the Human Beings who were crying for our help, whose houses had been burned to the ground, people who had nothing, no-one, with nowhere to go.

I am sick.

00:10 – I did not stay to play cards with Jakub, I hardly said two words to him, I just wanted to get away. Ivan would not come, after so long I gave up, Jakub said he would take care of him. Let him stay, if he wants to keep watching, so be it, but I am done with watching for tonight.

January 16th 2015

Entry 3:

22:00 – Tonight has been uneventful, and I am thankful. Ivan seems to be more settled also, I even managed to get him to play with the tennis ball I brought along with me. I am glad to have my canine companion, sometimes I feel everyone here is losing their humanity, and I feel it’s due to Ivan that I’ve remained grounded, that I’ve retained a sense of morality through this shit-storm.
Or maybe I’m just going crazy.

23:45 – We have been fired on. The watchman just down from me took a bullet through the eye.

Tomas Petrov – Deceased.

It could have been me; it could just as easily have been me. I’ve been dismissed, but I’m still shaken, they’ve gotten bold, if they are actively attacking the border now, how long before they try and cross it? I cannot bring myself to sleep, knowing any minute this could be the day the scales of war are tipped.


January 18th 2015

Entry 4:

Adam Vanev – Deceased. Paskal Holub – Deceased. Simon Bakalov – Deceased. Mila Hornick – Deceased. Andon Láska – Deceased. Imrich Antov – Deceased. Linas Krastev – Deceased. Anna Pasternak – Deceased. Silvester Sykora – Deceased. Mladen Sykora – Wounded. Aras Tomov – Wounded.

Jakub Vantchev – Deceased.

Ivan – Dead.

19:00 – We were ambushed today, early morning, no-one expected it so soon after their initial attack. We met them outside, unprepared, unbalanced, and we fell. We kept them at bay, and they’ve stayed back for now, but we barely made it back ourselves, we are weak, and we can’t handle another attack, not now.

I’ve never clutched my rifle so tightly as I have this night, and it is only the beginning of my watch.

20:00 – Every rustle in the trees alarms me, every sign of movement, a watchman should be alert, but he should not tremble at every whisper of the wind. I feel vulnerable up here for a number of reasons, but the one that sticks like a thorn in my side is the lack of Ivan by my side. My danger detector has disappeared, but more than that- my friend is gone.

21:00 – I think they are in the trees, I can hear them whispering, I can hear voices, noises, sounds, something. They’re there, they have to be there. Where else could they be? Why is it so silent? The only sounds I can hear are the wind and the whispering in the trees. Despite the utter blackness of the place I swear I can see shadows moving between the barks, they’re here.

22:00 – This needs to stop, I cannot bear it any longer. They’re mocking me! Tormenting me! Why won’t they just leave? Why won’t they show themselves? The cowards! They think they are so clever, lurking there in the woods, just where I can’t see them, just far enough for me to sense they are there, but not close enough for me to be sure. That’s what they did to Ivan. Clever, clever, so clever. But they are cowards, whining, craven, little cowards! I won’t fire the first shot, let’s see if they are bold enough to do that, let’s see if they’ll do it. Let them take the first shot.

23:00 – They did it.

January 19th 2015

Entry 5:

They let me keep one thing when I crossed the border. I chose to keep this notebook. I think records are important, personal or otherwise, every record has value.

Peter Horák – Deceased.


The land of the living has little meaning to me, their petty squabbles and inconsequential conflicts amount to nothing, only more unwilling spectators on this side of the veil. Let them fight, let them meet their demise, then they will join us, and they can watch their world burn in spite of their sacrifice, and they will see just how little difference they made, when the powers above dictate their every move. 

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Glyph.(Part 6)

He had been called in.

 A few days had passed with absolute silence, Scorch’s broadcasts had stopped, but the people were still riled up. They were demanding to know why the truth wasn’t being let out, riots had begun in the streets and the silence continued. Isaac was growing increasingly agitated with every passing day, every phone call, every knock on the door, he was convinced that would be it, someone was going to be on the other side, and they were there specifically to deal with him. The more time that passed, the more he began to hate and fear the people of G.L.Y.P.H. He thought of the cold, calculating P and how she had almost killed him, how they had literally held a gun to his head and were ready to fire. He shivered at the memory, he had never been so close to death than he had at that moment, and he had little desire to be in that situation again, although some part of him told him it was inevitable.

Then he had received the call. P’s easily identifiable voice was on the other end, apparently there was a ‘situation that required his attention.’

This is it, he thought, they’re going to kill me, well… I’m not going to go down without a fight. He couldn’t stop his body from trembling though, the thought of death was so daunting he almost collapsed, which was when his mother appeared.

“Are you okay, Isaac?” she asked, “who was that on the phone?”

Isaac knew she was feeling concerned for him, he didn’t want to worry her any more than he had to, although he couldn’t think of a more justified reason for concern that his current situation.

“It was nobody mother, listen, I have to go out, okay?”

“What? Now? I-“

“Look, I just really need to meet some people.”

Isaac made for the door, but felt his body protest, he wanted to throw up, he wanted to cry, but he wasn’t going to let that happen.

“Isaac, wait!”

Dammit, why does she have to make this harder than it already is? He stopped with his hand on the doorknob.

“Isaac, listen, I wanted to just say- I know things have been hard since your dad left, and we’ve never really spoken about it since it happened- and- and that’s my fault, because I was afraid of what you might think of him- and me- I just want you to know, that what happened- it wasn’t because of you, it wasn’t-“
She cut off as Isaac embraced her.

“I love you.”

“I love you too.”

Isaac felt this was a better ending for them than he could have hoped for, it felt like a natural resolution rather than a forced exit. He put his mother’s mind at ease, and made sure she would stay in the house before leaving and heading to the place he sincerely did not want to be.

***

He arrived at the alleyway far sooner than he anticipated, and it is was only mere seconds before the doors opened to welcome him. There was only Franklin in the doorway; he’d expected armed guards, or at least something other than the appearance of free will. He found his way through the mess of corridors somehow and arrived in the room where they’d first witnessed Scorch’s broadcast. The room was just as it was before, only now people seemed to be heavily engaged in work rather than staring at a blown up, disembodied head on the screen.

“I’m glad you could make it, Isaac,” said P.

Isaac jumped as her voice appeared from nowhere behind him. He turned around and glared at her.
“Listen, if you are going to kill me, just do it, don’t try and dress it up, just do it, please, I can’t deal with the anticipation anymore.”

She tilted her head slightly to one side and studied him curiously.

“Kill you? Why would I kill you?”

“You’re not going to kill me? But you told me once you were finished with Scorch you would deal with me, I can’t fight you people, there’s too many of you…”

P almost smirked, “you’ve proven yourself to be of value, Isaac, killing you would be foolish, besides… Scorch hasn’t been dealt with; not yet.” She looked around the room briefly, her dark eyes gazing over the situation, before muttering: “come, we need your assistance.”

Isaac hesitantly followed her down some more complex and uniform corridors until they arrived at a series of rooms that seemed to be heavily secured; the doors were large, circular and metal with no window to be seen, beside each of them was a digital pad with a series of numbers running across the screen.

“This way,” said P, they made their way around the corner and entered into another room, this one requiring a pass card to enter, inside was a man in a black uniform with extremely sunken eyes and a creased forehead. One side of the room was purely a window looking into the room with the circular, metal doors… These are cells.

In the cell sat Scorch, his eye patch was missing, and his regular clothes had been replaced with a dark grey overall, but his hair still stood on end as it always did, and his one eye was still blinded with the  ‘X’ that was his Glyph.

“I don’t understand,” muttered Isaac, “what do you need me to do?”

“He’s planning something, he wants to be here, I know he does, but I don’t why, and I don’t like it.”

“So what am I meant to do? He’s not going to talk to me!”

“You can get inside his head, Isaac.”

“No! No I can’t, every time I’ve tried I’ve only ended up being able to look for a few seconds before getting forced out, he’s too strong.”

“I don’t need you to look into his mind, not yet at least, just talk to him for now.”

Isaac felt his anger rising and overtake the fear he was feeling, he was fed up with this, he was fed up of feeling this way.

“I’m not going to do that,”

“What?”

“I don’t know who the good guys are, I know he isn’t,” Isaac pointed at Scorch, “but you definitely aren’t much better, and I’m just meant to follow you blindly? I know that you are not going to help me- I know that you’ve done terrible things- this whole organisation is built for the sole purpose of killing people! And while I know Scorch’s motives aren’t good, what he is doing, revealing the truth behind all these corrupt institutions, it’s hard to feel justified fighting against it, so how about you tell me exactly what is going on here? Tell me some truths, and maybe I’ll consider helping you!”

P’s facial expression did not change whilst Isaac spoke; she merely looked at him with cold, calculating eyes. Then she smiled, nothing significant, only a small grin, but on P’s face it seemed abnormally large.
“Fine,” she said, “If you don’t want to go and speak to him- I will- but do me a favour, stay a while and watch, you might learn a thing or two.”

P left the room and Isaac glanced briefly at the man with the sunken eyes. He didn’t turn his gaze from Scorch; he barely seemed to blink. Isaac followed suit and watched the scene in front of him.

She entered the cell and saw Scorch sit upright in his chair, his hands remained handcuffed to the table the way they were meant to be, his eye seemed to sparkle with excitement when she entered.

“The notorious P comes to see me finally… I’ve been in here for a few days now; I was expecting a visit sooner.”

“I’ve had a busy schedule; namely cleaning up your mess.” She said without a hint of tone to her voice. She sat down in the chair opposite to him, “So… Scorch, you know why you are here.”

“And I know why you are here.”

“Of course you do, so let’s skip past the niceties and get to the point, what are you planning? Tell me now, and I can make life a lot easier for you, or keep up your silence and life suddenly becomes a lot more difficult.”

Scorch began to chuckle, “You really expect me to believe I live after I tell you everything? Please, I know how this operation works, you drill all the information you can out of me, make sure there are no loose ends, if there are, you tie them up or cut them off, and then when all is done, I get a bullet in the back of the head if I’m lucky, or I get to be one of your gruesome little experiments if I’m not.”

“Fine,” muttered P, “let me rephrase; I can make death a lot easier for you- or not- your choice.”
“So, if I were to tell you that there is a remote device somewhere that will automatically restart the broadcasts if not attended to after a certain amount of time, would that be considered a loose end?”

“Yes.”

“Oh good, well it’s a good job that isn’t the case then, isn’t it?”

“I’m not here to play games, Scorch, what are you hiding?”

“The real question here is, what are you hiding… Penny?”

Isaac gasped.

“You expect me to be shocked because you know my real name?”

“Oh, I know so much more than your real name, I know about your father, the owner and founder of this organisation, the philanthropist on the surface, the mass murderer underneath, I know about your two sisters and their little mishaps, I know about your Glyph that stops me from reading you… I wonder how many people here actually know that you are one of us? It’s not on the G.L.Y.P.H. Records, so it certainly isn’t public information around here, but I doubt it’s entirely classified information.”

“That’s enough.” Stated P.

“But I’m not interested in any of that… what I want to know is what you are working on down there. I was unfortunate enough to be caught before I could get the information, but I can guess, aside from all the experiments to try and rid people of these powers… I think you are trying to find out where they come from, aren’t you?” He smiled deviously, “what is it? Have you found out yet?”

“So, that’s your angle is it?”

“No, my interest in the origins of our power is purely out of personal curiosity, but I will take a look at what you have found at some point, I guarantee it.”

“If you say so, until then however, I’m afraid I will have to leave you.”

“So soon, Penny?”

“Oh, don’t worry, I’ll be sending a friend in to see you very shortly.”

“I look forward to seeing him,” Scorch smiled once more before the heavy door swung shut with a dull ‘clunk.’

P returned to the surveillance room.

“You-“ Isaac stopped, clearly lost for words.

“Me,” stated P, “I intend to explain everything later, Isaac, but for now, we have to deal with him.”

“He knows I’m here!” Isaac’s eyes conveyed fear, but she could tell he was trying to supress it.


“Of course, are you ready to speak with him now?”