Stuck

I dreamt about the future.
Unravelling and revealing.
Yet all they do is talk it back.
I’d been beyond before.
Far away and out of reach.
Such things I’d seen.
Now the stars drip down like lies off a tongue.
Hold it and eat them. Consume.
Cough.
Try to let me in again, though a distant world away.
An outcast to the tribe.
This could be the saddest day.
And though I get lyrical, as I always will.
Tarred and caught in the well-placed trap.
I ask that you touch me once more.
I am trying.
Come walk these shoes and wear this soul.
Give me new direction.
So easy to get stuck.
But not the other way around.

Smartly Dressed Violence (Part xx)

Click here for previous entries


They slipped down one of the many lane-ways that littered the city. These were trade routes, and backstreet paths; areas where they were not to be bothered by the ‘others’ who had no reason to go there. The lanes were dank and small, as if the buildings were purposely pushing to squash them out. Graffiti was smeared here and there, deriding the social order with a hollow call to arms. But these were few and far between, the great machine of the privileged cracked down harshly on such blatant critique of the order. Jess spotted one of the cleaning robots now, slithering down the side of the huge building like a mechanical spider, erasing the grime and the voices of the dissident.

Levon picked up a large bottle that sat idly next to a huge bin and launched it up into the air towards the robot. It impacted with a smash and the machine tumbled down, caught up in its own wire and support. Jess looked at him.

“We’ve got bigger fish remember.” Jess said, looking around to see if anyone had been startled by the commotion.

“I know, but those things really irritate me.” Levon replied, looking around for another object to launch up at the stranded thing.

“Here, let’s get inside quickly.” Jess said, eager to get away from the robot which would, before long, give out a distress.

She pulled open a door which, on the surface, was disguised between two brick works which converged. They both slipped inside where it was dark, Jess pulling the door quickly shut behind her.

“Come on Levon, get it together. This is important now.” She said sternly, looking for a switch. Levon found it before her and turned it on with much satisfaction.

“I know, I understand alright. So, what is this place?” He asked looking around a deserted stairwell. Jess looked at him, wondering how long it had been since his own departure from this world.

“I think you know what this place is, you go to them regularly in your cleansings.” She said, trying not to be too annoyed with him.

“Oh, so just another ghetto then.” Levon said, casually.

Jess turned and slapped his face.

“Watch it.” She said, angrily. Levon looked stunned.

“Sorry, I…” He started, but she interrupted.

“We all know of your checkered past, and how you can’t seem to deal with your situation or gift. But there’s many who would do anything to be able to do what you can Levon. Don’t turn into a prick like the ‘Others’, these are people too.” She said, her eyes wide in alarm.

Levon looked at her and shuffled his feet a little. He sighed.

“Look, I don’t mean any disrespect. I just get uncomfortable in these places when they become so grateful. It angers me they need to be so thankful to something they shouldn’t.” He said.

“I get it, I know. But they are, and this is how it is for them. So suck it up, and be more respectful. This is my family this time anyway.” Jess said and started towards the stairs which descended into a dark stairwell.

“Oh.” Levon said and began to follow. “I am sorry you know.” He added.

“Good, then let’s get on with things. Come on.” She said and upped her pace down the stairs.

The lights in the stairwell sprung to life at the movement, the motion sensors reacting to their movements and illuminating as they went. The travelled down deeply, more flights than Levon would have thought until they reached a level when Jess stopped. She went across to the wall and pulled open a small metal box affixed to it. Inside she pressed a series of numbers on a keypad, and then a door lock released, and she pushed open the door next to it which appeared, again as if from nowhere.

Levon noticed the smell before anything, warm cosy home cooking greeted his nostrils before his eyes could take in what lay beyond. They went inside, met by a room which was long yet intimate. A huge sofa extended along the wall, the bare bricks filled with pictures and holograms which moved and swayed. The people residing within which grinned and waved back, the snapshots of family moments.

Coming into the room from a door on the other side, a woman stood momentarily before hurrying across to embrace Jess. She called out for others who came also, each embracing her and smiling. Jess introduced Levon to her family; her mother and her wife, her father and her brothers and her grandparents and aunt, who all came to welcome them in. They collapsed onto the large chairs while someone went to get refreshments which before long were weighing down the table, snacked at by hands which animatedly retold stories and updates on everyone’s lives.

“How long has it been since you’ve seen everyone?” Levon asked, catching a moment between conversations.

“About three months. It’s been a long time for me. The work recently has been intense.” Jess replied, popping a small triangle sponge cake into her mouth. Levon looked at her with fresh admiration.

“You really sacrifice a lot for the cause, don’t you?” He said, perhaps a little surprised himself he had said it. She looked back at him, the dusting of the cake around her mouth. She swallowed.

“We all do.” She said, touching him lightly on the knee.

“So, is this a fleeting visit or you staying a while?” Jess’s aunt said, reaching across for a small cake herself. Levon noticed her arms were bleached a pale colour, something he’d seen frequently in those he’d cleansed, the result of working in the turbine coolant sites dotted across the city. These turbines stuck high into the sky like giant needles, catching particles that they transfused into energy. Many people worked these sites as they were very labour intensive due to the cities strict protocols for A.I’s in the workplace, limiting their presence in certain sectors.

“Well, we’ve actually come here for a favour. I’m hoping you can help us out.” Jess said, somewhat awkwardly now at being asked directly the reason they had come.

“Ooooh, is this for the Order?” One of her brothers asked, looking at the marks on Levon’s arm.

“Yes, it is. I need to tell you all everything.” She said, nodding at Levon as if seeking an approval. He involuntary nodded back, agreeing it was okay in a way before Jess told her family everything that happened and what they needed from them.

Jess younger brother was now climbing on Levon’s back, poking at his arms. He was only six but seemed fascinated by Levon’s markings which reached all the way up his back and neck.

“So, what do you all think?” Jess asked, waiting the correct amount of time to pierce the silence that had fallen since explaining. Her family looked at each other, unsure of what to say next. It was her grandmother who said something first.

“So, there’s no guarantee this won’t kill us?” She said in a blunt fashion, but not out of anger.

“No, there’s no way of knowing what….” Jess started, but Levon cut in.

“There’s a risk, but there’s a safety net too. Being so close to the Altered I will be able to move across and help if anything bad happens. I have some powers that I think will help. It’s still a dangerous risk, but I think we can mitigate it.” He said, smiling a genuine smile. He liked her family; it was what he had missed from his own life. Looking around at the humble house, he knew that despite their circumstance, there was love here.

“But I don’t even have S.I.N.” Her mother’s wife said, looking somewhat nervous at saying the wrong thing.

“That’s perfect, we need to know how it affects everyone.” Jess said, and the woman smiled in relief; knowing it seemed she could still play a part.

“So, what are we waiting for then, where do we need to go?” Her grandmother said, getting up now off of the sofa and brushing the crumbs onto the floor.

Jess exhaled in relief and looked at Levon.

“Is that a yes then?” Levon said, surprised at how quick it had been.

“You said it was important, and also that we’re against the clock here.” The aunt said, also rising.

“Indeed.” Levon said and took out his companion from the inside of his jacket.

“Wow, are we really going into the Altered?” One of her brother’s said, excitedly.

“Somewhere pretty close.” Levon said, placing the book on his lap, flicking the pages to the part he needed.

“Better buckle up Walter, it’s going to be pretty wild.” Jess said to her brother, taking out her own companion and taking in her family there in that moment together.


Persistence of the unforgetting

Sunken deep like forgotten wrecks.
A hate that broods, contorts and flex.
This grudge is old and just like oil.
Black with time, and within me coils.
Staining my soul with its heartless rind.
Unforgotten, despite the passage of time.
But time has come to break the bond.
That swirling hole, that stagnant pond.
I will no longer give food to the beast.
It is to the wolves I throw this feast.
A stinking blood drool of unwanted flesh.
Cut from my heart, and so refreshed.
Then wrapped in a tourniquet of letting go.
With hope that in that hole, some love will grow.

SMARTLY DRESSED VIOLENCE (PART III)

(Parts I & II here)

Sin.
What a conjuring word. The sins of our for-bearers. Original sin. Mortal sin. Terminology streaked in religious dogma and guilt seemed so fitting. Something dirty. Who knew when the term was used first, or by whom. The masses took it quickly into their bosom, posting and terming; judging and labelling it quickly throughout society. On the outside it looked like a class or monetary argument, but it was deeper than that. The genetics had become maligned, distorted somehow by a system of the haves and the wants. The cells of society seemed to have physically shifted in the face of such gross disproportion, reducing many down a structure that seemed to only now support the rich. Circumstances prevailed, physically changing your genetics. Inferior bodies, development growth and intelligence. You were now a prison to who you are. A ‘S.I.N’ had infected you, a type that could not be removed by a few hail Marys or dousing yourself in holy water.

The move came quickly. Society split, forcing those with ‘S.I.N’ into city ghettos, necessary workers and entities to carry on the menial tasks they did not care to do. No chance of change or bettering yourself. No chances at all. The rich, smartly dressed and generically stable we now validated by they superiority which unlocked a new life and development of their own DNA. Over a short time this evolved further, an ‘othering’ which separated them further from those languishing in their circumstances suffering with ‘S.I.N’. Governments and organisations rallied around the strong and justified, with law enforcements and judicial systems installing sweeping changes to daily lives. Religions followed suit, amending their doctrines to select the wheat from the chaff; doing away with the masses that could not benefit their own frameworks of control.  There was no revolution, just and overnight paradigm shift. Few fought back, too entrenched in the lies told and the increased unfairness that hid behind supposed common sense. The morality compass had been smashed, taken apart and reset to point to a north only a few could follow.

‘S.I.N’ Sporogenous Infirmity Nano-mutation. But no one called it by its fancy name. If you were rich, well connected or lacking little then you were the ‘other’. A better many claimed. Cycled through a world with ease and self-arrogance. Tested from birth to see your grouping, you were processed through life in an A or B group. The ‘Others’ wore fake smiles of compassion, assuming tolerance and indifference were the same thing. Those with ‘S.I.N’ lost hope, suffering in a space that showed no sign of changing. Dooming generations ahead to injustice and further adversity. All down to what was underneath. They bled the same, but that was where it seemed the similarities ended. And some had even begun to change that, developing different medical and genetic modification to their already supposedly superior human bodies. The blood of Christ that washed inside us all had been improved upon.

Within this dichotomy however, there was Levon. Origins unknown, he was neither an ‘Other’ nor inflicted with ‘S.I.N’. A biological mistake perhaps, or lucky mutation. Able to shift between both worlds, he had found a way to balance the scales and take the injustice and squash it underfoot. Known to the authorities as a cleanser, he trod a dangerous road, and risked his life daily. Though some knew of Levon’s abilities, they did not know how he was able to do what he did. They did not know that Levon had stepped into another world, between the warring factions of his own. He Levon, the light barer, knew of a world of magic that resided between the slices of science that determined everyone’s life. And he had found a way to change the unchangeable.


 

Smartly Dressed Violence (part II)

(Part I here)

The light that was emitted was the blinding kind, the type that strains the back of your eyes, giving you an instant headache. The blue neon glow reflected the watchful and hopeful eyes that clung to it like hungry wolves. In a moment, the room was silent; washed clean and quiet by the light which swayed and swelled around the space like water. Through the silence came little whispers, tiny sound hands that crawled out of the bag along with the light. They were calm and comforting, finding their way all over those in the room. It banished the darkness momentarily, those witnessing a shifting of paradigms; of time and space.

No one had noticed, entrapped in what was taking place, but the younger man had closed his eyes when it had occurred. His eyes were tightly shut, his face screwed up into something which displayed pain and endurance; like suffering a scalding bath. This was not his first time of course, but it never got easier for him. That light, that sweet calming emittance was so tempting, so enticing; yet he couldn’t see it. Not yet.

The light began to fade and the room was filled with a swirling blue mist, a mystical offshoot of what had taken place. The young man approached the bag and rolled back the opening before picking it up. The older man stood next to him still as a statue. The others in the room too did not move either, engulfed it seemed in what had taken place. The younger man knew what occurred of course, each time was the same. The light would come, the feelings descended, their minds would be erased in the moment as the magic took hold. Silence would remain for some time after, the cells inside them re-aligning. He would always depart before they came to. He had stayed once before and could not contend with the questions and the gratitude. It would layer on him like a sticky tar. He wasn’t saving their lives, he wasn’t taking them out of this pit they had found themselves in. It was why he would charge so much, to balance the scales. He wasn’t deserving of their thanks.

He was not their messiah.

The bag, gripped tightly in his hands, made its way along with him out the door and back down the small messy stairway. The sound of the city and the restaurant clattered into his head and he stepped out into the lane where the fresh air and return of time rushed back through his bones. He walked up to the main street where the trams and the traffic had begun to flow faster. Turning right onto William Street he darted past the ‘others’ now, as they had begun to file out of the buildings. He could always feel it worse in the masses, when they would stand next to him at crossings or bump into him on the metro. The science he understood, the magic he knew; but still it made his insides squirm. How they had changed, all from simple choices, from where we had all begun. This ‘othering’ which now encased them.

He sped home faster, keen to get off the streets now. The bag, still in his hand, felt lighter and he gripped it tightly still until he was able to close the door of his apartment high on the 28th floor and place it back into the lobster red containment box he kept on the floor of his wardrobe. With things safely put away, he was able to sit on the floor of his lounge and exhale long and hard. He, Levon the light bringer. A name he hated.


More fables here to unfold

Smartly dressed violence (Part i)

The sun had stopped shining now, the wind that had blown in from the east seemingly extinguished the light like a dying candle struggling to survive. The day was young still, yet the streets were empty. People at work, kids in school. The ordinary pluck of the strings of life vibrated through the city. Heavy now with silence, it weighted on his shoulders as he rounded a bend and dived down a graffitied lane, sneaking inside a side door. He carried a small brown paper bag, but its contents; like people, were more precious than the coverings.

“Did anybody see you?” The voice in the shadows asked.

“Nobody ever sees me.” He replied, pulling down his hood.

The other man sighed, seemingly resigned to thinking this was all a game to him. He motioned him to follow as he made his way along a dark corridor. They passed the kitchen of the small Chinese restaurant, and slipped through a door that led up a flight of stairs. The stairway was small and dirty, boxes of cooking oil were stacked on high making it difficult to pass. Foreign labels and battered cardboard, cheap easy food to feed hundreds.

“Are you sure this works, your source is good?” the man asked the younger as he ascended the small flight.

The man in the hoody stopped walking up the stairs, remaining on third step from the bottom.

“Am I wasting my time here?” He asked in reply.

Their eyes caught in the dull light of the stairwell, dying embers of brown met the fiery defiance of hazel. The sound of the streets beyond the walls rung through them, a tram’s bell tinkered off in the distance reminding them of their place deep inside the city. Inside the belly of the beast.

“No, I am sorry. It’s just, they have put all their hope into this.” The older man said, opening his hand in a peaceful gesture.

“Hope is all we have it seems.” The younger man replied, and continued on up the stairs. They both carried on to the top and walked across the landing until they reached a small crowded room that stunk of fried food and desperation. Inside more people than the room should allow seemed to reside in every part. Beds had been stacked on top of each other and bodies filled them, young and old. The middle of the room had an upturned box used as a makeshift table, similar to those he had passed on the stairs, stained with oil from within perhaps. It was covered with food boxes, cups and the faint glow of a phone’s light.

“It is here.” The older man announced, and the people inside the room began to stir. The younger man followed him in and moved towards the small table. He pushed some of the empty boxes onto the floor and then placed the paper bag on top, then stood back. The older man appeared at his side, placing a hand on his shoulder which he flinched to.

“May I?” the older man asked, motioning towards the bag.

“Be my guest.” The young man said and watched as he approached the bag, unfolding the top with his eyes alive like a child’s at Christmas.