Something to stay awake for – Erode the ruin

Something to stay awake for series

Listen to this episode.

The sea was lapping at her feet now, the cold-water slithering underneath her toes as the sand pulled away beneath her as the water receded. The waves were small and calm, placid like the mood she was in. It always calmed her coming here, walking down the perilous path that led from the rocky outcrop at the top of the cliff. To her, they were cliffs at least. Vast walls of rock keeping the sea and the world at bay. White cliffs that crumbled and creaked like the teeth of a slumbering giant.

She watched the little boat off in the distance, floating over the horizon, bobbing on the waves. Wondering what it would be like to be on that tiny vessel. Off to an unknown destination, casting her troubles and life overboard and setting off to the ends of the earth.

Her dress flickered as the breeze blew in from the south, a small bit of spray spat at the bottom of the dress, marking her as an object of the ocean. Marking its territory. But she would not be owned, at least never again. She pulled at the flowers in her hand, twisting out the mauve petals from the peony bunch she loosely clutched. She squeezed one of them, bruising the skin and releasing a tiny bit of moisture which escaped into the salty air.

She came here for the silence and the solitude, but today she was haunted by the voices. The ghosts of those she knew that had followed her down the tumbling cliffs. They squawked and chattered, soliciting opinions and throwing comments like pebbles into the sea. She closed her eyes, but the sounds increased, twittering’s of things she never asked to hear. She would never truly be alone, though it was the paradox of her desire. A wondrous dream that she chased, yet frightful of ever attaining it. Like chasing rainbows, she always came up empty, yet surrounded with the multitude of others. Life dripping over her.

Dropping the flowers into the water, she watched as they descended in slow motion. The little helpers she took earlier were beginning to swim their own synchronised dance in her head now. The flowers separated like divorcing couples, sticking to each other while parts seemed to drift away with the tide. From the shore, she would have received respectful stares from passers-by. Considerate looks for a soul caught up in a difficult moment, perhaps saying goodbye to a loved one, or remembering a time or a moment in life that had gone; corroded away into space like the rocks on the cliff. But she wasn’t saying goodbye or thinking about anyone she loved. She was thinking only about herself, and how to unfix herself from the web she felt caught in.

She lifted her feet out of the sand, kicking off some seaweed which had begun to coil around her leg like a snake from the shallows. She looked back towards the shore; the virgin sand glistened back at her. Mainly untouched today by those who sought out places to oil and tan themselves in the blazing sun. She loved this place for that reason, that it was a quiet slither of the world that was her own.

Pulling the plaster off her arm, she folded it twice and popped it into her pocket. She pushed the hair back out of her eyes, securing it behind her ears while she squinted off into the distance. The boat she had seen was much further away now, battling the stronger currents she knew lay towards that area of sea. She looked at her watch but realised she had taken it off earlier. She had left it on her bedside table. A tiny rebellious act, not to be controlled by time, or space, or matter. She had kept the ring on though, she twisted it now on her finger feeling the cool metal slide back and forth.

Some of the petals licked at her legs, the approaching tide giving them free movement. One sloshed up her leg, sticking to it like a barnacle on a ship.

She folded her arms gracefully and began to walk, slowly but determinedly into the sea.

SWIM

Easy to go with the tide than fight it.
To smile in a world of knowing grins.
Everyone looks to the sea for beauty.
But she always looked underneath.
Down into the depths where the coral grew.
Where no one was there to force her to smile.
To fit into a circle, forgetting she was a star.
Down deep was where she wished to go.
Out of the pain, she had come to know.
Forever she would be known as the crazy.
Once they dragged her body back up to the shore.
But she would linger within the seaweed.
Exploring the cool deep forever more


MORE FABLES HERE

Heaven is shut

The plane took off, soaring into the sky as the sun died on the horizon. All was safe, all parts working. Wheels stored safely as the streaming sound of pressure encased them. He looked out of the window and watched the ground give way. He sighed. He’d hoped for a failure. Maybe later when they were out over the ocean, no chance of rescue there. No one ever survived a plane crashing into the sea.

Closing his eyes, he saw their face. Lost and troubled as the chaos of the street bustled by. The taxi had hurried them, throwing his bags into the boot hastily before cars honked behind. They’d said their goodbyes already upstairs. Held on to each other as the tears threatened. At least he’d held on. He was unsure now how hard they had pulled into them. Deep inside his brain a voice had whispered ‘they want you to leave’.

Opening his eyes, he saw the seatbelt sign switch off, the little ‘bing’ sounding all around him but nowhere particular. The plane levelled off and he saw the land corrode into the ocean. The lights from the city behind already blurring into a distant memory. People got up, walking up the gangway as if their restrictiveness demanded a rebellion in movement.

He turned again to face the window, the little tears of condensation streaking backward like the ones in his eyes.

The flight was uneventful, and despite his longing, did not crash into a blazing wreck into the sea. He was somewhat thankful, no need for others to descend into nothingness because of his own wants and needs. The country had changed now of course, and he felt like a stranger in his own land. He felt as if he’d outgrown that little island, when in truth, it had all shrunken into ambivalence.

The next few weeks were a haze to him. He slept longer than his body needed. He ate less than what was required. The maddening howls of loneliness engulfed, playing out a wicked pageant each night. Pagan dances of despair trooped through his mind as he imagined the worst. And the weeks fell away into months. The sun rose and died each day, giving way to the moon which seemed more allusive and tauntful. Appearing and disappearing with differing brilliances.

And nothing changed.

No word came. No celestial movement of fate. He prayed of course, every day. Wishing, hoping, threatening…apologising. Words tumbled from his mouth like a waterfall, lost in the roar of tears that welcomed the rising pool of pain. He was confused and sad. These descriptions falling short of the abject horror that they encompassed.

He got up late one Wednesday. His bed had become a grave, and he pushed away the covers like soil from his skin. The weather was grey, and he saw little movement outside his window. He could hear the birds whistling their busy tunes and saw a couple of collared doves pecking away at the grassy bank at the side of his house. The birds circled, one seeming to protect the other as it scoured the grasses for something.

This was his life he thought there in that moment. The tragedy of nothingness. The on repeatness of filling hours that stretched like days.

Sitting down on his bed, he joined his hands together. They had marks on now of course, bloodied scabs that were struggling to heal. Punches to the ground and walls in frustration. His hands stung when he washed them always, bits of skin pealing off and disappearing down the drain to their own hellish adventures. Mostly he would pray in his head, but this morning the words came forth strong, if not shaky. He prayed for others, for those he loved. He asked why his circumstance refused to alter. He prayed to be sent the needs to change his situation. If god was refusing to give him what he needed, then at least give him the chance to change it for himself. He saw the light, felt the feel of god’s hands upon him and trickle into his heart.

This prayer lasted a long time. The doves had flown away by the time he had opened his eyes again, and a light rain had begun to pepper his window. The house groaned around in its ordinariness. Things were quiet. Things were the same.

He went about the day, holding onto something which he would never tell anyone. Like something stolen and now hidden in his pocket, he buried this secret in his heart which struggled to beat in a comfortable rhythm. The day came and went. The tasks and encounters rose and fell with the usual absurdity.

It wasn’t until the following night when what he had tucked away bloomed again. A flower of thought that had grown from the thick mud of despair. He had played the game of this life, by the rules he never agreed to. He was of service each day, giving and giving; yet never receiving. It never used to bother him for he had much to give. But when you lose everything, you become stricter on what you give away.

Now he felt like the coconut husks in his garden, pecked at each day by the birds of life. Strips of him torn away, revealing nothing underneath. His prayers had gone unanswered. But he stopped that thought then. No, this was not true. His prayers had been answered, when he prayed for others. When he gave and prayed and wanted the best for other people. They got what they needed. Even the rotten ones he was obliged to love. As if blood bound them in an unspoken covenant.

Prayer works. But not for him.

When he wanted…no, needed something. It never came to him. It was as if the gates of heaven had closed to him in a display of much unfairness. Why was he so beyond getting what he needed to make it through the day?

This thought stuck in his head, like food stuck in a throat. Uncomfortable and unpleasant. He was angry at God. But who wasn’t at times? But he felt more than anger, a betrayal almost. He fell asleep that night, not pooled in his own tears like always, but shaking into a fevered dream of reckoning.

He woke early, the rhythm of his heart thundering him awake. His phone was silent, barren. Nothing in the night had sprung forth despite the difference in hours. What were they, seven hours behind? They lived their day while he slept dreaming of them. They dreamt of something else while he navigated through the day thinking of nothing but them.

Rolling out of bed he went to the bathroom to wash his hands. Purifying his body, washing away the dreams and nightmares. He looked in the mirror…..

A:

What stared back at him made him weep. A man stood there, but a wasted vision of a human. Sunken eyes, gaunt expression. As if the sadness had spoiled from the inside, wasting away the flesh. He noticed one of his eyes was a milky colour, his once hazel views into his soul fading away into a grey of nothingness.

What to do now, he thought to himself. Brush his teeth, fix his hair. Get changed and through another day for what purpose? The same as yesterday, the same as tomorrow would be. A parade of nothing and inconsequence.

He knew he had fallen into a depression. He had hoped to shake it off or fall out of it again. Why was it so easy to get pulled in, and not the other way around? But something extra covered him today, that final magic element of hope seemed to have disappeared as he slept. A rousing song, or prayer usually helped. Taking stock and being appreciative. But no, something was different today. The same grey clouds outside, but something was different there in his bathroom. He could not even hear the birds that usually chattered and warbled beyond the walls.

He took a razor and made two clean cuts, long and deep. It was the kindest thing he could give himself, and the biggest apology.

B:

What reflected was a surprise to him. A little light glistened in his eyes and more haloed above him. He turned suddenly, hoping to catch a trail of it around his skull. But it seemed to follow him, quick as a flash. He felt it then, a sudden strength lift within his bones like they were being pumped with magical force. He made to pray but remembered suddenly and abstractly that God should not be called upon in a bathroom. Negative spaces.

Running from the room he collapsed onto the landing, the banister casting a ray of light over him like prison bars. He watched as they seem to lift upwards, the sun disappearing behind a cloud. The bars faded, and he closed his eyes.

He pictured the world above in his mind, the ascent of this man who had become so troubled and desperate. Hands guided him; little voices pushed him further until he was at the gates of heaven. With one push, the gates parted. He opened his eyes there and bowed to give thanks. He let the words tumble out, washing appreciation over his life.

How long he remained, he’d not known. The bars of light did not return, but when he stood, he noticed the sun was hovering off in the distance now beyond his window. He wiped the tears away and stood in his new world, just as his phone in the other room began to ring.

Drenched in departure

Through wanderings of a hallowed heart.
Untie the science while the rain comes.
Let the silence smother you.
Or little taps of life, crash on your skin.
Blanketing this world in a quiet monsoon.
Layering and prevailing over all before.
Let it seep into those muddy bones.
Washing everything.
Purify and personifying a state of being.
Fresh like holy water.
Stinging the sins like acid.
Drown and choke underneath those silent waters.
A vast tide that you wash over me.
Those days that were always numbered.
The borrowed time and delicious decay.
How sour those words met my mouth.
When I asked you to leave.
Tying my tongue into confused states.
Separate systems and traumatic time zones.
A flight into a new world.
Where the clouds coughed around me.
And the skylarks sung our demise.
God raining down sad tears.
That had been building for some time.

愛 (Love)

I dare not touch, a hair upon your head.
Or your skin that falls like rain.
Into my arms I dream you would tumble.
Kissing your lips that welcome me like a traveller’s light.
Burning out of the darkness.
Threatening sweet cherry deliverance.
I would peal back your skull and dive into that sea of thoughts.
Swimming with you in circles.
Hand in hand on a celestial ocean of knowing.
To know you. To touch you.
To take the pain you feel and burn it within my own bones.
I place this pedestal only for you.
Keeping you safe and aloft, closer to the heavens.
Where you belong.

Crawling back to the sea

Did I miss the Milky Way?
Seeping into my bones while I sleep.
Creeping over my soul like a love I can’t keep.
Forgetting how this feels.

If I am nothing but confused, then I know.
I know what I must do.
I welcome in the deportation.
Listening at the water’s edge.

The primitive sound of the sea of tranquillity.
Lapping at my soul.
An ocean of storms.
Propagating emancipation.

So annotate my departure now.
Hang it on your wall and drink it from your coffee cup.
Diminished and exonerated in your eyes unfit for the surface.
They would pop under the pressure of it all.

Like the path I tread. Or the self I give away.
Where is the road I follow? The crater to jump?
I told you before about the universe at my doorstep.
But I know you wanted me to be wrong.

All along.
But you forgot how to swim.
So I shoot myself across this space and walk into the sea.
And you can fall down to your knees.

Baptised by you

That endless world they talk of.
A Drowned world.
It opened in my heart when the starry waves washed inside.
When you looked at me.
With that light of god in your eyes.
And in that moment, like that pebble in your hand.
You grasped at the infinite.
You consumed my soul.
And we would remain forever bound.
Like that pebble in the ferocious stream.
Washed endlessly by the cosmic current.
Until clean.

Who let in the rain?

Underneath that crystal water
Of crushed stars and dreams.
Dwelling like a memory that won’t die.
Lies a soul.
Frayed and tattered.
Filled with thoughts of eucalyptus leaves and saffron.
Tide up in heartstrings and self-made knots.
Tackling the torrents soundlessly.
To drown silently in a rising tide.
This was their gift to you.
Keeping the truth and the pain out of your eyes.
Packing soot and coal into the sockets.
Trembling inside and yet still.
Like a sewn up teddy bear.
All glass eyed reflective.
Placid.
Who let that rain in, to wash the hope away?
Deluged in dopamine and on the brink of decay.
Each drop inched closer.
Under the door and down their spine.
Exploding the sky with a grey that blocked out heaven.
God made the rain, the floods and the tide.
To wash away the sinners, the soulless and already sunken.
Yet she was always destined to float.
Catching stars in pockets and wiping the salvation across our mouths.
But the rain came in.
Straw ladened and camel shaking.
Soaked in misery and shame.
And now she is lost under the surface.
Ripped away in the undertow.
Growing gills and thicker skin.
Crashing on someone else’s shore.

Sweetness follows

Jasmine lips and honey eyes.
Dance on my flesh like miniature dragonflies.
Growing roses in my heart.
The ivy of my mind to twist into.
Licking your skin and tasting the ocean.
Chasing your wave and finding sand in my shoe.
You.
Blue and free like the sky that pulls over my eyelids.
Whispering into my skull, the tantric movement of tomorrow.
Taking me off to another land.
Where your skeleton slips into my skin each day.
And crystal tears carve a path right through me.
Amber shivers and slumbered eyes, welcoming these dreams.
Tip-toeing through the water lilies of your world.
Hovering like the hummingbird of your heart.
Beat and hum.

Maddening loop

When the clothes of life don’t fit us right.
All the world hums in a headache grey.
I wish for it all to fade away.
To drown in the peace of a miracle.
Or to sleep in the air of reframe.
But life is wanton, and but an ocean of torment.
And pain is the reservoir that keeps refilling.
Washing over me, again and again

Something to stay awake for – Turn of the tide

Listen to this episode.


[SPASH!]

It had started out as such a beautiful day. The tangerine sun above glistened down unknowingly on the little boat that bobbed on the waves like a cork. The vast expanse of ocean to one side of him shimmered into the distance, being pulled into a far-off string that he knew led to anywhere. The steep cliffs on his other side gleamed, the enamel of the sea that burst forth and up high like teeth of a sleeping beast. The occasional rocks would tumble down into the unusually calm waters beneath, kicked over the edge by the people, families and dog walkers he saw now wandering along the cliff edges. He watched as they called out to him, their faces blurred in the distance of separation, but their jolly waving arms and outstretched hope of the children’s excitement did nothing for his mood.

He returned those waves of course. The friendly little sailor off on his boat on the Elysian morning, dropping all troubles in his wake as he sailed towards the sun.

But they didn’t know.

The day betrayed his thoughts. The sun that stared down at him seemed to mock his melancholy. He didn’t begrudge the happiness he saw that day. The happy families walking, the smiling people on the beach who skimmed some stones and took in the fresh salty air. The woman with the flowers at the water’s edge. He wasn’t even jealous of their carefree attitude that warm August day.

He wanted to forget. He wanted to forget that he’d been that happy. That each day by day moment, of making a cup of tea or driving to the store was now riddled with the memory of them. The happiness clung to him like a terrible oil, never washing off. Reminding him each second, he would never have it again.

Now that they were gone.

He tried to shut the world out at first. Keeping to himself and the shuffling of the indoors life like a caged bird. Wallowing in his own droppings of depression. Nothing had helped. No conversation to make him make sense of it. No well-intentioned trip somewhere to change his environment or to talk to someone who had been through it before. His world had been darkened, as if someone had placed a veil over his source of light, and now he stumbled around just surviving.

But what for, he’d begun to wonder.

They were no longer there to share the happy times. The little moments that string together for a life. The Sunday morning lay-ins while you run your fingers through their hair. Disappearing into each other’s minds and being lost forever in the eyes that had always drawn him in. Beckoning him like a sea siren that he’d eagerly given himself up to. The beauty in their heart that he longed to only touch for a moment.

And now, each day was a collection of those little moments. But turned ghastly. Like a kebab of mud and dog shit skewed into a new day.

But not today. Today, he taken out that little boat of theirs and set out to sea with the intention of never returning.

[Oh please God. Please, let someone come. Let them come by.]

He began to drift further out to sea now. The tide pulling him on that cord to the horizon. He cursed the sun, its blazing intensity itching his neck and blinding him as it caught the waves. The beach behind him began to melt away, and he felt the creeping peace of the detached. He wasn’t sentimental, but he had brought the ring. The ring they wore, and his own of course. He’d put it on this morning. It didn’t fit comfortably on any of his fingers, they were just so different. Thrown together in a cosmic joke of opposites. Like orange juice to his toothpaste. Oh, the fights they’d had. He twisted the little silver thing now on his finger, turning it round and picturing the last time he’d seen it on their hand. That angry day. He shook his head and found a nicer memory. But this made him more restless, remembering again that it had vanished, never to be seen again.

It was then that a plump grey cloud floated across the sun above him. He looked up curiously, then he felt it. The wind had changed, and a fierce breeze had picked up. He looked out to sea further and he could see it now, the billowing thick black clouds that threatened a storm.

[The waves crashed and swallowed him over again. Spinning him around and throwing him back up to the surface where he gulped in the air and heavy rain which pounded down. He knew these were the last moments, but inside a fire kindled still. Please God. Please, let there be a way.]

He smiled then. Perfect, what a way to go. He wasn’t ashamed of what he was doing, but this way it will look like tragic accident. Less people hurt. Less questions. Less self-analysing on every interaction people had had with him. Could they have done more, should they? What was he doing out at sea in the first place? Of course, they’d ask that. ‘Oh, don’t you remember, they had that boat. Oh Yes, they both loved those little adventures. Oh dear, how terribly sad’.

He could hear it all now, playing out like the end of a film. He didn’t really want to die. But he had nothing left to live for. They weren’t coming back, and he’d built a life around that. He couldn’t change things; they grew into a horrible thorny bush that refused to be cut back; and for that he’d given up. He watched how fast the storm blew his way, his little sailboat rocking heavily in the building surge. He knew there were terrible currents in this area. It seemed nearly every week in the busy season swimmers were dragged out to sea, like invisible seadogs pulling them out and down to meet Poseidon. Hidden riptides were a real killer in this stretch of the coast, and too many people found this out the hard way. He watched the swells and waited for the rain which began almost instantly as the clouds took hold and choked out the sun.

It fit his mood. The rain, the darkness. He imagined some slumbering monster to come up from the deep and seize his boat. A great leviathan that he could stare into the eye of and succumb to as it tore him to shreds. The sweet relief of death.

[Gasping. Aching. Lungs heavy. He struggled to open his eyes as the salt water washed through them like an unabated flood. Time to shut off. Time to shut down. You cannot go on, the tiny voice in his head said. That opponent who always brought the worst. God, why won’t you help me? It spluttered…. Wait. I will not end it like this. There is a way. Someone will come. Hope in hope. He told himself, and pictured a boat drifting hauntingly towards him, outstretched arms to come and rescue his weary bones.]

He took off his shirt, letting the sea spray splash against his chest. He wanted to feel something, anything before the end. He wanted to curse the sea for what it was doing and embrace it all at the same time. The conflicting light and dark that was within him and shifted like a sand in a pot of water. Swirling in a confused state of inaction. He wanted to be brave and turn his boat around. He wanted to be strong and dive headfirst into the waves and drown a million deaths and be gone.

And then he spotted him. A tiny head, no bigger than that of a pebble, floating on the sea like it had been placed there by God.

He shook himself, trying to dislodge the image. The trickiness of life, trying to get him to reconsider. To go home, procreate. Settle down and carry on. He rubbed at his eyes, but the image didn’t change. Instead it now came with sound. The shouts of a boy calling for help.

In his head, he’d always wanted to be good. That he’d be a good person no matter what was thrown at him through life. That he would do the right thing when called for. But he was ashamed to say he did not move straight away. His first thoughts did not fly to steering his little boat over to the boy and rescuing him. It wasn’t fear, shock or any other rationale response. He simply watched the scene for a few minutes for the sheer disgusting beauty of it all. The tragedy at his hands and before his eyes like a great Greek scene played out on a canvas before him. The rolling waves, the heavy rain. The black clouds like a collapsed volcano above. He had no notion of being the hero, but there was something there. Like the beauty of a funeral in the ugly face of death that he savoured. Momentarily.

[There! Is it? Of course, it is, I knew they’d come. They just had to.]

He steered his little boat over to the boy and reached into the sea and helped him out. He was heavy and broken. Battered by the waves and exhausted by staying afloat for so long. The riptide of course that had ensnared him, pulverised him into the eyes of death. Plucked him away from the beach that he was swimming by, his dad napping under a sun umbrella the last time he saw him. It had felt like an age, and he couldn’t guess how long he’d been out to sea for. Safe inside the boat now, he smiled an exhausted smile and thanked the man before passing out, waking up later in the hospital with his dad by his side.

After pulling him into the boat, the boy had thanked him and collapsed into a heap. He rushed to get a blanket from down in the cabin, hurrying back and covering the boy. He must get back as quick as he could. But the wind and the rain, the sea and his early wishes of disaster were too strong. Ensnared in the thick of the storm, the boat was pulled out further and further. The land but a distant blur to him now. He watched as the waves crashed over his bow, the sleeping sea monster now fully awake, causing havoc.

He had set out that day with a simple wish. To disappear completely. But something inside him shifted, something he knew was there all along. He never wanted to live just to live. There was no reward to just surviving in a life. Too many people shuffled day to day, along the road of an unchanging existence. Being the same person when they die, to how they lived. His own God had died in him long ago. Swept out to sea in the sad goodbyes and people he could not keep close. He wasn’t swayed by the sentimental timely appearance of the boy in the boat. The young life so innocent and full of years ahead.

He would save him, yes. But it hadn’t melted his heart in the way that was expected. Instead, as he’d looked into the scared and thankful eyes of the boy, he saw a hope, a thirst; a need for something that he recognised. More than survival, but of a certainty of living and being. It was as if a layer had peeled off his heart, and just a crack of light had shone inside. This boy, who had everything before him, could be snuffed out on this sea, without the course of a life to change from what he had come to this planet as. He himself had sunk lower than the depths of those shipwrecks beneath him now. Not seeing the sun or the light. But a stirring within him whispered of change. Of a great reveal of something. He no longer wanted to die. He wanted to return to the coast, for reasons he now understood.

He swung the boat a hard turn to port and screwed his eyes in a determination towards the storm. He hoped to make it towards the inlet on the eastern side of the bay. He knew this to be better protected, and it might give him a chance. He hoped for a small break in the weather so he could get his bearings a little. His hand dug into his pocket, and he felt the ring inside there, strangely warm in his hand. He looked off into misty rain and he searched for a way, hoping for a change. And then, suddenly the rain halted.

He smiled. Not on his face which was soaked in spray and tears, but inside, feeling a little bit of the black melt away.

“So, did anyone catch his name?” the doctor said, scratching copious notes onto her clipboard. She struggled to believe much of what she had been told. The boy’s condition did not fit the events of the day. He was sleeping now, but what his body had been through, did not show on the tests or in appearance.

“No-one did, no. He just appeared, calling for an ambulance. I knew it was Michael there though, and I was just relieved to see him again.” His father said, sipping the black coffee that had appeared moments before from his daughter who had returned from the hospital canteen.

“Quite the mystery then. But it looks as though Michael is out of the woods.” She said, clicking her pen and putting it into her pocket. She wasn’t one for fairy tales, she was busy; and had no time to indulge in mystery angels or heroics. She saw heroes every day in her colleagues, she knew there was a reality to miracles they performed that went unnoticed. “We’ll monitor him overnight, but I would advise getting some rest yourself. The events of the day have probably taken a toll on you also.”

“I just hope we can find him is all. I want to thank him for saving my son’s life.” The man said, snuffling a little, not used to being emotional in front of strangers. She smiled a fraction, her heart always warmed by appreciation.

“Hope in hope.” she said, and turned to leave the little hospital room, which had a view of the sea from high up on Bartholomew hill. The waves now much calmer, the gods of the ocean pacified it seemed for the time being.


More fables here.

The Deep (Nothing but I am)

Wednesday,

I finally sorted out those boxes today, the ones from the move. I wasn’t sure if I would be staying here long, the laziness in me took control and had left them for ages. I want to make things more ordered now, unpack my life and gain some structure. I went through the boxes, and I can see why I had left them. Photos and knick-knacks, memories and pain rolled around some of the smaller boxes inside. I had forgotten I had bundled most of it up together.

But it wasn’t all disruptive to my soul. I found the seahorse mum had brought me back from her trip to the Caribbean. There was a starfish too, but I always liked the seahorse best. It reminds me of her now when I look at it, but in a hopeful way. She may be far away, but this little item refreshes the world as a reminder she was with me, she lived and thought enough of me to bring me something she knew I would love. I miss you mum, I will see you again soon though….I’ll make the effort.

THE DEEP

Swim, with a mouthful of stars.
And kiss these lips underwater.
Pick a pearl that cloisters inside my mind.
Clutch it deep with your bones.
Washing over your heart.
Lining your veins in mother of pearl beauty.
Inside, all still wet and curious.
Like the seahorses that swim here in the shallows.
Your thoughts call to me like the sea inside a shell.
Echoing a world which wavers on the edge of temptation.
Suck the salt from my skin which slips over you.
Crush me in rapid waves of emotion.
As my fingers move to a new tide.
Parading across your body, wallowing in your deep.


Taken from Nothing But I am


 

Maturation

The sun illuminates such maddening visions.
Of logical paths I dare not tread.
A way to your soul that is covered in thorns.
The heat burns and chars like the wattle trees.
My bones like their branches.
Crumbling and dead.
Yet words you whisper on the Nullarbor winds.
Reach me over oceans.
Washing into my veins like scented magic poison.
An oxygen for my heart which longs to be with you.
So I twist towards the sun, though it burns in your direction.
Blaring up from below the equator.
Through a lens of love and reproach.
Like a plant feeling a new growth, bursting from my skin.
A love is grown again within.
Hoping to be potted, once again in your dusty soil.

Octopus

Cracks in the colossus.
Licking time across new wounds.
Limping and lumbering back into the ocean of your eyes.
Taking lifelines.
That little notepad you kept in your desk.
Right behind your mind.
Scribbling a sonnet for thine truth to break.
And a storm to release.
Sweeping up all the worries and the fish from the bottom of the sea.
I bottled up these sea storms.
The swell in your day.
But you pick and poke at the cork and the corrections.
To then complain that you are soaking wet.
What fable lives now in that oily deep?
What treasures do you covert, claw at and keep?
For in my mind too swim a thousand sharks.
Tasting blood in the water.
Now, no longer able to swim.
A tangle of troubles, the octopus crawling underneath the waves.
Occupying my deep.

Beached

This picture of you, drawn out of such a moment in time.
Chiselled out of the clouds and into my eye.
I reached inside of myself, only to find you there.
Setting up a place for us.
A home, deep within the fathoms of my uncertainty.
Placing sticks and rugs over deep old wounds.
Silently you swell.
Sweetly you settle.
Patching holes and broken pieces of the past.
I radiate out a pulse, searching for something to slip away into.
But I’m strung up in your willowed reaches.
Your horizoned heart.
Your memory beaches.
Ultimately I relinquish and peel off my skin.
The fuselage of fear splinters away and we brace for impact.
Washing ashore of this Elysium dream.

Extirpate>Amalgamate

Stand in the middle of the wreckage.
The galaxy of regrets wash at your feet.
All open fields.
The tidal pull within you, feasting on black waves of idealism.
You bring your dreams to god.
Such food for a hungry beast.
The wind washes away, the dirt and decay of mountainous failure.
And who really cared. Who really cried over forgotten chances?
The road just diverged.
You detoured to this place where you can feel the grass under your feet.
Grounded.
Predisposed to deletion, to erase what was the stain and the dirt.
Such grand destructions.
But now it lies, bleached into your eyes.
Hung up in the gallery of your life.
And we now admire, devouring the stories of your past.
All parts that assimilated to the messiah of the meadow.
Here. Now. Living, breathing.
Being.

Smartly Dressed Violence (part xix)

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Jess had a story like many others, a cataloguing of moments in her youth that pushed her to the side of rebellion. She had watched for years how those with and without S.I.N were treated differently. How the great gap between the two seemed to be widening. It was assumed that Jess was a sufferer herself, tainted by the genetic mutation that kept some in the lower bowels of society.

But she was not.

Jess had always had a distaste for discrimination. Her very soul had rejected the nonsense and justification of how and why society behaved as it did now. She felt everyone was equal, despite of where you came from, what your were or how your cells formed and grew. She had be called an idealist with much of her ‘radical’ thoughts put down to her youth. But it was her youth that bred the rebellion within also, the mutinous feelings she had for how she was told to live.

When she discovered there was another way, and others who felt the same as she; Jess poured her effort into undoing the pain that the past had normalised. She craved to know more of the Altered and the magic, to do her part in righting the wrong. Her path had crossed Levon’s, a ghost like being in the revolution. His skills and gifts were well known, but also his allusiveness and reluctance to fully engage in the fight. Now Jess knew a little better the part he played. The veil had been lifted on the The Order and she had gotten what she had wanted, a true part to play in the war against the unjust.

Aiko had long ago become a target for her rage and contempt. She knew all about his upbringing of course, she had done her research well. She knew the secrets he kept and the hypocritical state of his youth. He may be smartly dressed on the outside, but inside he had been just as ‘unclean’ as the many he and his fellow appraisers shamed and kept persecuted.

All her efforts it seemed had come to this, to this tipping point where finally she had a real shot at correcting.

“Jess, are you in?” Nina asked her, tapping her knee slightly as if to rouse her.

“What, oh yes…of course.” Jess replied, her mind turning over the plan that had been hatched.

“Do you have your companions?” Nina asked, holding her own little book before them.

“Always” Levon said, producing his own.

“Yep.” Jess said, reaching inside her jacket and taking out her little black book.

“Good, then we have no time to waste. Levon…” Nina started, but was interrupted by a murmuring sound.

“Answer.” Nina said, turning to face a floating hologram behind her. The Gustave Doré rendering suddenly transformed into the giant head of Dr. Winkoski whom they’d been with not long before.

“Karen, what’s up?” Nina said, she was calm and polite. Karen seemed on edge.

“Ah, good. You are all there. There has been a development.” She said. In the background the lab they had been in earlier was a bustle of activity.

“What’s happened?” Nina asked.

“It’s Aiko, we found him in the altered. He was trying to get through the gates of Asher.” Karen said.

“Found as in apprehended, or found the remains of him?” Nina queried.

“We found him, but he escaped back into the material realm. When he tried to get through the gates, he was stopped. The exchange seems to have banished the darkness too, for it no longer swirls around the Altered. Our members are reporting it is not showing anywhere.” Karen said.

Nina was a quiet for a bit, thinking over what he had heard. She looked to the giant globe that was in the centre of the room, and noticed the blackness had gone.

“Was it he who stopped him?” Nina asked, her voice almost a whisper now.

“Who else.” Karen replied, before continuing. “We know Aiko still has his companion, and we must assume he was able to return on his own. Our disturbance trackers show entry and departure points that match his movements.  We are waiting for word to come from his Atone industries to confirm if they are still on course.”

“We must assume, like you said, he returned. He will follow his plan, he believes in it too much. But we need it confirmed before we act.” Nina said.

“Agreed. We’re trying to get this information now, but I would say we must proceed with our time-frame if we are to stop him.” Karen added.

“And what of his holiness?” Nina asked.

Karen looked away momentarily at this, as if uncomfortable slightly.

“We’ve yet to contact him.” She said, slightly embarrassed.

“Not too surprising. I’m sure he’ll appear just at the right moment, he usually does.” Nina said, looking across to Levon.

“Well, we’ll update you when we know more. I’ll continue to organise the final stages from our side, and transferring of our reversal pathogen. Awaiting confirmation of its success from you still.” Karen said.

“Right, and we are about to start the test so it will be with you shortly.” Nina said to Karen.

“Speak soon.” Karen said and logged off.

“He’s been busy.” Levon said to Nina as the hologram changed back to the Dore prints which spun and moved in classic beauty.

“The Pope has his reasons, I’m sure he’ll appear soon.” Nina said.

“Well, he was always an absent father in my life so I’m not surprised he’s doing the same thing to others.” Levon said, his face showing annoyance.

“Your father is the Pope?” Jess asked, this day seeming to offer her a new surprise after the next.

“Yep. And for all his goodness, he never sticks around long enough to be of any real benefit.” Levon snapped.

“He has his calling, he is doing what he knows is right.” Nina interjected.

Levon sat there, thinking on this.

“Maybe, but he’s never there when I need him.” Levon replied.

“I’m sorry for that, but if the world is better for his actions, then you have to deal with your own issues and selfishness. There is more at stake right now.” Nina offered in her quiet calming fashion. This seemed to do the trick as Levon seemed to shrug off his annoyance as he moved on the chair, perhaps seeing the bigger picture.

“So, what do we do first?” Jess asked, trying to get into action.

“We need to test the reversal pathogen. We can only stop Aiko otherwise if we don’t know how it will work.” Nina said.

“But I thought there wasn’t enough time to check its effectiveness.” Jess asked.

“There is a way. There is a place between the Altered and the material realm. A purgatory if you will. It seems to react intensely with anything from the Altered, but also stabilises things from the world below. We believe if we test the pathogen there on a group, we can gauge the potency of the agent and its success.” Nina said.

“So, we need some volunteers?” Levon said.

“Some brave ones I’d say. That is quite a risk.” Jess said.

“All or nothing at this stage. Can you gather some people who suffer with S.I.N to go with you to this place and test it?” Nina asked Jess. Jess looked away, taking in the vast room and all the words that were continued in the books. How many of those books continued stories of hope, of overcoming? She turned to face both Levon and Nina.

“I think I know just the people.” Jess replied.


 

Smartly dressed violence (part xviii)

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The Altered, the other realm. A place only known by those who had ever been there. It is easy to imagine another fantasy world, one which moves on an axis of magic and mystery. Yet it is a place that defies true understanding. Most technology fails to operate there, simple mechanical devices or computers are redundant in the atmosphere that swells and whispers spirits. This adds to the mystification and fascination of the place; throwing up questions of origins and beginnings as much as endings. Did we crawl out of this land on our bellies? Did we rid ourselves of the magic and lore like flicking away the fins and gills of our ancestors?

The magic has continued though; transported through doorways and openings, brought back by the brave and knowledgeable who understood and hoped to help the world with it. Mystic passages and symbols scrawled out by something that echoes in our own history. It has its own essence, its own living and breathing being that moves to the thoughts and the whims of those in possession. Magic, though dangerous and dazzling, can truly reflect those who wield it. For good or ill. The magic from the altered is a mirror and an enhancer of the one who handles it. The incantations, the essence from the physical place can be used in such wondrous ways. Which is how the Order have been handling it. Respectfully. Treating it as a living entity that, like anything loved, is handled with care.

Aiko stood now in the Altered, himself covered in a black suit as if travelling through space. He wore a helmet which was transparent, giving him a 360 degree view of everything around him. That everything now though was clogged in a thick black fog which was beginning to swirl and descended upon him, blotting him out entirely. Something kept the fog at a distance however, a little green flame in his hand he held before him like an offering. The little fire was a concoction, a breathing into being of the magic that hung in particles all around him.

He was not stupid, he knew the construct of this place and how delicate the system could be. He knew how it reacted and contracted to other people’s presence. The Order. He had seen them here many times. Slithers of white and blue light that would transverse the plains; not so much as meddling, but going by their own designs. Aiko had once thought they could work together, their plans not so different. He had come there once too as a student, eager to learn, eager to overcome this place which had at first inspired and frightened him. But as he grew, both here and back home, his mind and resolve became hardened and addled. His thoughts of others evaporated and his intent became clearer.

There was much power here, one he could harness. Not just to rid the city of those who he wished to teach a lesson to, his great flood so to speak. But to capture the essence and magic of this place, to bridge it over to the other world. He would then be able to control more than he could ever imagine.

The fly in the ointment however was the organic nature of this place, this Altered where each action had a seismic reaction. His pillaging and raping of this place had resulted in this darkness, this fog which was withering and unstructering all. He could see it, he knew what was occurring. He wondered if the damage could be undone. He knew the Order were trying to do just that, but each time he came here he seemed to make it worse. He had delved into the books, the lore and the mysticism and to him it spoke in riddles. There was something he didn’t quite understand.

He came now to a place, the one he had been fearful to go to if he were honest with himself. Before him giant metal gates loomed up into the sky. To say it was forbidden to go there was not a true reflection of what the writings said. What they actually told of was a place in the Altered where those with heavy hearts feared to go. Where the gates we closed to hearts and minds that could never be opened. There was always danger in the altered, missteps and mistakes had taken people. Snatched them into a trapped existence tangibly in view but forever lost.

The gates loomed high before him, the blackness covering much of it now above out of sight. A quiet heavy sound of silence was slowly being punctured by a tap-tap, which was beginning to build somewhere off behind the gates. His little green flame flickered, reducing slightly and threatening to go out. A blue light moved beyond the gates. A flash and flicker, the tap became more prominent.

“Who is there?” Aiko demanded, his little green flame growing with his command.

Only silence returned.

He looked above him through his helmet, through the suit that protected him now from the fog that he had found corroded flesh. The fog above the gates was dispersing, blanketing off to the sides as if cleared by a giant hand.

“You cannot enter Aiko, you know this.” A voice came from beyond.

“Don’t tell me what I can and can’t do.” Aiko replied, definitely.

“This is nothing your heart isn’t telling you also.” The voice said, seeming to creep about him now like its own miasma of eeriness.

“Be that as it may, I will be entering.” Aiko said. His plan rested on what was beyond the gates, his own bridge to the world below.

“If you do that, there will be no world to bridge to.” The voice came back, almost mockingly. Aiko was not surprised; he knew the nature of the Altered, how it revealed things you may never speak. But it had annoyed him nonetheless.

“That is a chance I’m willing to take. If you take me for a fool, then it is your mistake.” Aiko said, taking out his little book that he always kept on him.

“I do not think you a fool Ai, I know you too well.” The voice said. This did surprise him. No one called him Ai anymore, few even used his first name so casually. Ai was his childhood name.

“Stop it.” Aiko said, yet showing no signs of surprise. He found the page he was looking for and tapped the symbols on the page. His own little green fire died suddenly, but before the darkness descended he muttered an incantation and beneath his feet little green particles began to emerge from the ground. On his left arm he swivelled a dial on his suit and the particles flew towards it like a magnet. They bubbled in place, building to a sphere in a split second before exploding upwards into the darkness above and around him.

The flecks of green light seemed to cling to the darkness, haltering its movement.

“You’re like the little child who dipped his dirty hand in honey to have a taste Ai.” The voice came again, followed by a flash of blue beyond the gates momentarily.

“I warned you.” Aiko said, now angry. He turned the dial on his arm which seemed to energise the particles, he pushed forward with his hand and the darkness contracted around him, beginning to move forward at his command towards the gates. As they touched them they began to steam the metal, hissing the bars like a million serpents escaping a nest.

“I still think you can be saved Aiko, you just keep choosing the hard way.” The voice came, this time from behind him. Aiko turned quickly but the light blinded him. A Blue and white flash engulfed him; swallowing everything, including the darkness. He fell to the floor in a daze as the voice dissipated everywhere, an incantation he had never heard melted everything away.

It was a long time before Aiko awoke. He lay there in his custom made suit as the blue light washed everything it touched, bringing a gleam to the gates and the Altered he found himself in. When he did wake, he could still see the darkness fogging his vision. This was not because it had returned, but because it now resided inside him; forever staining what he saw.


Smartly Dressed Violence (Part xvii)

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The world had changed, and not for the better. As the years tumbled into the next, different generations had accepted the disparity between those with and those without S.I.N. They had grown accustomed to the hierarchy, where those smartly dressed betters were financially, intelligently and genetically superior. S.I.N produced no outwardly physical difference, yet it left a lasting trace over the lives of those with it. The change was swift and brutal. Humanity was put up on the shelf for later while this new world grappled with the gulf of difference, allowing it to be filled with years of pent up racism, discrimination and an endless lists of phobias which were now all legitimised. A caste system emerged that everyone now subscribed to, for God had made it all this way. Supposedly.

People now accepted how things were, and those at the top gave no thought to changing things. Why would they, they were supreme. Shuffling to and fro in their lives with all the abundance at their disposal.

The three of them watched them now, the inhabitants of the city, rushing about in the streets below from the vantage point of the library. A huge glass wall jutted out on one side of the room, scrapping its glassy finger into the city air beyond the walls; giving a balcony view down into the city. Jess watched the people in their finery, hopping aboard Tsutsumi transportation and disappearing off around the city streets or into tunnels which lead to other caves of wonders beneath the pavement.

Levon and Jess had followed Nina into the huge library, its feel quite different from the almost tropical room before. It was a library in the sense of books stacked high in huge bookshelves, some of which curved over at the top, transporting their precious contents over in gravity defying suspension above their heads. In the centre of the room a huge glass orb seemed to drip upwards from the glass floor, a perfect sphere which hummed and glowed with a translucent blue and green light. Jess at first thought it was just a globe of the world, but looking at it further she realised it was more than that. At the centre there was indeed the world, as she knew it, surrounding it however were layers of dimensions, each were encapsulating a new landscape which flowed and moved like bits on a chess board. Swathes of mist and vapour moved around these other levels, and Jess knew then what she was looking out. It was the Altered, a dimensional representation of the other world which, according to the moving diorama before her, surrounded the world.

Nina offered them a seat on the half-moon chairs that surrounded the globe and went to a small drinks trolley that stood by a huge hologram that displayed famous images from literature, changing every few seconds. She returned with some drinks for them and sat down next to Jess.

“Please forgive the somewhat half-baked reception, ideally I would show you around more Jess and be more forthcoming about this place and what we do. I no doubt presume you’ve been told most things by Karen and Levon here, but there are many levels to the order and many many things regarding the Altered and the magic which, I’d wager, you’d be keen to know.” Nina said. She spoke quietly, yet firmly. An underlying strength concealed in her soft quiet words.

“Jess knows enough I’d say. The best knowledge is practice and she’s already been baptised now. She’s been to the Altered already, and if I may speak for her; she’s keen to get to work.” Levon said, looking surprisingly timidly from Jess to Nina.

Jess nodded in agreement. Something about Nina made her crave her good approval or good graces.

“Well, to work then we must get. For there is much to do.” Nina replied, taking a sip from her own glass. The pink liquid within stained the rim before melting back down into a diamond pink glow in the bottom.

“We know what Aiko has planned, and the two points in the city in which he intends to unleash the virus. Now it’s easy enough, relatively speaking, to stop him. We have the agents and means to do so. We also know his plan and timeline, so we can orchestrate our own in which to combat his. I see two problems right now. ” Nina said.

“Just two?” Levon asked.

“Come now Levon, as your teacher I know your abilities. Stopping a crazed super-villain would be a walk in the park for you.” Nina replied.

“Well, now that I have my trusty sidekick too.” Levon said, cheekily.

“I don’t think so.” Jess added tautly.

From a bookcase on the far side, a seismic shudder seemed to reverberate from the selves. Jess looked over to the case. Old books were stacked upon it, but there was something different about them.

“It seems the Altered is becoming impatient.” Nina said, referring to the books which now began to ooze a vapour. Dark spots also appeared on the globe in front of them, small patches of shadow like a bruise on a peach seemed to swell and dissipate around the sphere.

“This is one of the problems. The Altered has been infected too much by Aiko’s presence. It has unbalanced the very fabric there, and it too must be cleansed. Now, if we can stop Aiko; we assume that the darkness won’t grow any further. We need to cleanse it, and restore it to what it was. That’s where you come in Levon.” Nina said, looking at Levon earnestly.

“Yep, one step ahead of you. I figured that’s what I would be called upon to do.” Levon said.

“It’s your abilities that we need to stop the corruption in the Altered, but we need to make sure Aiko’s access and interference has stopped. We need to revoke the magic he has tainted.” She added.

“So we need to intercept him and his plan, replace the agent with our own and then cleanse the Altered?” Levon asked.

“Yes. That’s the long and short of it.” Nina replied.

“So what’s the second problem?” Jess asked, her own drink now empty. She put the glass down on a small glass table at her side.

“The second problem is, as Karen no doubt told you, that our own pathogen is not yet ready. If we swap it with Aiko’s then we risk doing similar damage to his own.”

“Then why don’t we just wait? Stop him releasing his and wait until the cure is fully ready? What’s the rush?” Jess asked.

Levon turned to Nina also, curious to hear her answer.

“I agree we should, and would if we things weren’t so unpredictable. But this might be our only chance to release our cure, as you put it, on a mass scale with the aid of Aiko’s technology.” Nina replied.

“What do you mean? Once we have it, we can use it at our own conveyance.” Levon said.

Nina shook her head.

“As dangerous and deranged as Aiko is, and as extensive as our own enterprises is, we don’t have his resources or indeed technology. We’ve tried with our own trials and transmutation machines. They just don’t cut.” Nina said.

Levon looked angry, his brow furrowed and he looked at the floor as if some answer lay there. He went on.

“But why the rush, can’t we just keep the technology once we acquire it?” Levon said.

“Ideally yes, but our sources indicate that Aiko has systems in place that suggest that once compromised they will become inoperable.” Nina said with a sigh.

“A self-destruct. We are in a movie aren’t we?” Levon said with frustration.

“I understand your reasoning though. I agree that we do things on our own time-frame. But it has been escalated and this may be our only chance. If the Altered can’t be cleansed, and the damage done by Aiko is irreparably, then we won’t have more chances. It’s now or never.” Nina said.

“So that is quite a problem. What’s the solution?” Jess asked.

Nina took a moment, looking into both their eyes, almost scanning for understanding.

“Well Jess, the solution hopefully resides with you on this one.” Nina replied.


 

Smartly Dressed Violence (Part xvi)

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Jess watched as the blur of the tunnel rushed by. Dark earthy stones like the walls of the church snaked away before and after them as they sped deep under the city. The tunnel was lit by the same blue lights that she had come to recognise both the Order and the Altered with.

It took nearly no time for them to reach their destination, the automatic controls of their little mobile clinking in and slowing them to a stop beneath a square hatch above them. The lifted upwards, the hatch opening to allow them inside like a strange spaceship docking bay. She looked at Levon who, as always, expressed little surprise to his surroundings. This must all be old news to him she thought.

They rose up into a space which was very much removed from the old stone walled confines of the crypt. The room was open and airy, with high ceilings and huge windows which reached up beyond the ceiling line. The walls were dusted in a smooth red copper, and plants and foliage hung and crept from all manner of nooks and crannies. It smelt lush, fragrant; as if they had entered a small snatched part of the jungle somewhere.

“Are we at the Zoo?” Jess asked, stepping out of the mobile and onto a glass floor. A few steps away from her she could see water flowing beneath, eventually cascading out into a small waterfall towards the edge of the room.

“A personal zoo of sorts, yeah. My teacher likes animals and living things.” Levon said.

“And they got stuck with you, shame.” Jess joked.

“It’s an appreciation for life, the thing that is most important I suppose.” Levon said, clearly understanding it better than he made out.

They stood there momentarily, a few parrots rustling above their heads and fluttering down to a lower roost in a palm across the room. The huge Bali styled doors opened on the far side, dispelling the mist that was gathering at the bottom of the door. I little figure stood there for a moment, silhouetted in the light that equally poured in from the other room.

“It seems I was the one in need of help, not you Levon.” The little voice said, fading away quickly under the sounds of the waterfall which sploshed the water down the artificial glass rocks.

“This is the teacher.” Levon said to Jess, casting his hand in the direction of the small woman who had begun to make her way across the room now. She was tiny, barely five foot. She moved gracefully though, almost floating across the glass floor towards them. Her silken clothes and coiffed hair gave Jess a regal impression and contradicted both her own and Levon’s rough and ready outwear.

She came over to them and outstretched her hand, offering it to Jess.

“Nice to meet you Jess, my name is Nina.” The woman said. Jess shook her hand which felt oddly soft, almost too velvety; as if she was a collection of the vapour she had just walked through.

“Good to meet you.” Jess replied, still taking both the woman and the room in.

“Levon here likes to make out he’s never phased by anything, but I do believe that he is very put out sharing this all with you.” Nina said, eyeing Levon wickedly.

“Uh, I wouldn’t say put out.” Levon replied, but Nina went on.

“It’s a very personal relationship to have with a teacher, and this very space here is a sanctum for us. Not many have passed up through the floor there that you just have. And never with company.” Nina added. She stood there now with her arms tucked away in her long silks. Jess was unsure if she was being chastised, reprimanded or cautioned. Nina’s expression did not lend to any interpretation, her features stood like a carved stature, trapped in beauty.

“I, uhhh.” Jess began but Nina smiled, sensing her nervousness.

“Please, do not feel alarmed. All this is pretty intense I imagine. You are safe, and most welcome; indeed I think you are exactly what we need right now.” Nina said, resting a light touch on her shoulder tenderly.

Jess was relieved, and smiled in reply.

“Looks like you’ve added some more parrots since I was here last.” Levon said, motioning towards two parakeets which were chirping noisily above them. Nina looked above, smiling still.

“The more the merrier I find.” Nina said, extending her arm out. The two birds suddenly flew down and rested on her outstretched arm, their noisy chirping now changed to a sweet birdsong.

“Amazing.” Jess said, watching the little birds.

“They are a delight. But come, you must need refreshing and a good sit down I imagine.” Nina said, turning towards the door she had entered through. She began to walk away and Levon and Jess followed, their shoes echoing over the glass floor.

“Just mind your step.” Nina said, motioning to a large dollop of bird crap on the shiny glass floor. “A delight, but a messy one.” She added.

The birds then took off as they made their way into the other room, leaving the humid nature of the tiny rain-forest behind and entering what Jess could only call a library. The likes of which she had never seen before in her life.


 

Smartly dressed violence (part xv)

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The city sprawled out across the bay which curved round like a crab. The huge gleaming skyscrapers rose high, dotted across the expanse looking like giant teeth from out to sea. The city was indebted to the ocean, growing out of its natural harbour and becoming a gateway to this part of the country. In recent years the city had begun to creep out ever further into the bay, huge complexes which dug down deep into the shaky sandy ground under the waves.

Atone industries was no different, with facilities on the west side and also underneath the central CBD; leaving their development centres to be on the coastline, a hybrid of industry and futuristic posturing with their sleek designs and innovative constructions. For Aiko, size was everything, and his properties were known to be the tallest points in the city. He would boast some of the best views of the ocean from atop his giant towers, the looming monoliths sporting his name for all to see.

It was these towering structures that Aiko hoped would be the key to his planned ‘modification’ for the city. The height and change in pressure allowed the magical elements to react better in the thinner atmosphere. This gave him the opportunity to hide in plain sight, stationing his machines at the summit of these towers that lay in the heart of the city.

The Order had known what Aiko was planning for some time. That change in the Altered had begun some time ago, the fabric shifting and fraying the further along he seemed to be going. They also knew from their sources inside Atone industries and the hidden world of magic that something was being prepared. In many ways it was a battle of good versus evil, but at the root of the war; they shared the same goal. They both wanted to use the magic and essence of the Altered as a great equaliser, to eradicate the level of us and them from society. Too long had there been a great discrepancy between those with and without S.I.N.

With the help of their sources, The Order had been able to monitor Aiko’s plans for the city. His ‘alteration’ machines had been developed to be placed at the top of two towers, for maximum coverage. With his accumulated maligned source of essence, he planned to release this over the city where it would converge with the particles in the air and be drawn into each person’s cells. Those below who lived in the city. No one was safe as these particle attractions had been manipulated to be drawn to human tissue. It did not discriminate. Upon release, with the correct incantation, which would be broadcast throughout the cities C&M (Chipped and marker) system, which all citizen by law were made to have; the essence would begin its evolutional thrust.

What Aiko failed to know, was that the magic of the essence would not follow his planned selection process. The Order had learned that on the levels in use for the whole city, they would change the mutation of essence, as the incantation they knew he planned to use had a sub-verse within the text. In simple terms, it operated on a ‘one for all’ method, in that, it would power the essence to the overall rate of change. Aiko wanted to select a middle range of survivors, an age group outside himself that he believed were the best and fitting for his new utopia. His plans would not follow this rule and would override to modify everyone at the same rate. Like Pandora, what he would release could not be controlled.

Fortunately, The Order had been working on their own variant form of essence. They had developed something which worked in-tune with the Altered, on the same principles that Aiko had in mind. The difference being that theirs had to work from the Altered, through a conduit that could control and defuse the rate of power being unleashed.

Jess looked at Levon as Karen finished talking. She cocked her head to the side.

“So, you are our saviour then I’m guessing Mr Messiah?” Jess said, understanding now what was planned. Levon grinned and extended his hand, king like; jokingly suggesting she kiss it.

“I prefer the term superhero.” Levon replied, grinning.

“Come on, be serious both of you. This is important, and we have no time to loose. Aiko has already re-located his staff to his Het and Bet facilities under the city. That means they have entered the final phase.” Karen said. She handed Jess a small glass bottle in the shape of a cross that she had taken from the cabinet.

“How long do you think?” Jess asked.

“The intelligence suggest tomorrow night is when he plans to turn on the machines.” Levon said.

“Wow. Then, we need to get moving. What’s this for?” Jess asked, holding the bottle.

“This is a sample of what Aiko has developed, the maligned essence. You’ll need this to open up the Pandora machines, their elemental readers will only operate if its sequence is detected.” Karen said.

“Will one be enough?” Jess asked.

“I’ve got the other.” Levon said, shaking a little bottle also.

“So how are you going to be in the Altered also?” Jess asked, not quite clear on the plan.

“You will be meeting someone who will help you, Levon will take you there. All will be explained. I will handle things from here, this place is more than just a church or science lab you know” Karen said.

“Okay, so let’s go.” Jess said, making her way back towards the door they came through.

“There’s a quicker way, follow me.” Levon said, making his way around the corner of the room where a huge glass box stood, touching the roof of the tomb. Jess followed him and watched as he scanned his arm across a reader by the glass. It changed colour to green and the stones behind it moved backwards. Beneath the floor a small hover cart moved upwards until it was docked in place. The glass slid down, the cart hovered there at knee height.

“Jump in.” Levon said.

“Transport too?” Jess said, hopping into one of the seats.

“Of course, the popemobile silly.” Levon replied, jumping in next to her. He swiped the dashboard and the glass returned to the room and they were lowered down onto magnetic tracks. A casing came up over their heads, making it indeed look like the popemobile from days of old.

“Hold tight.” Levon said as they were suddenly propelled off into the tunnel before them.


 

Raining underneath

Underneath. Down here where it’s calm.
Where the black beauty of the abyss touches my feet.
All is quiet.
All is still.
I’m entombed as if in a coffin.
Locked forever in my own space
Controlling the promise of my ever after.
And then you came.
Pelting my world.
Hurtling across like a comet in my stretching blue sky.
You bring the change, flowing through like a weather system.
Flourishing my eyes open like a new season.
Calling sub-oceanic flowers to bloom within me.
Aquatic forest pines that reach up to touch the surface.
To reach and touch your face.
My hands branch to catch the light you dazzle.
A sudden rush you instill within me like heroin bubbles in my blood.
Coming up too soon, bending my compression that has kept my heart safe.
Heading for the bends.
I’m a fish not born to fly with you.
High where the birds and angels soar.
Hidden in these depths for reasons.
For sins that keep me drowned.
Now it rains under water, puddling the pool of the sea that parts us.
And I drift in the stream of sorrow.
Knowing that the rain on the surface, is really your tears.

Wish the end

Simple words say more in silence.
Like the break between heartbeats.
Like waves hitting the sand.
To swim or drown in your fiery light.
You cover your eyes with intent.
Stealing the beauty away.
Keep us trapped.
Keep us safe.
Locked into your skin like DNA.
Longing after life’s mystery.
Build the pyre from your bones and burn me inside out.
Collapsing into your cells.
A martyr for your majesty.
Burning the past away, leaving only the gold.
Tasting sweat and love with each gulp of air.
The salt from your waves.
Here is where you’ll find me.
Here is where I wish to end.

Conflict(ed)

The ticking clock moves my bones.
Vibrating to a new chorus.
Such fear and bravery dogfight within.
Triggering the gunfire in my heart.
Bringing other humans to their knees.
It stains this soul.
Are we cast out of Eden?
Ordered here under the guilt of honour.
Directed there by badges that shimmer in the sorrow.
A broken moral compass, scratched by time.
Left stranded out to sea.
Struck by the passing grief of that tide.
The one that washed over me.
Seeing death in the eyes of those all around.
Feeling hope strangled, feeling fear take hold.
Who really wins the fight, when we lose ourselves in the struggle?
Stretched and stricken, sunk by the force of your hate.
Every tear here brings the ocean higher.
With every cry, a family welcomes in a stranger.
A void, the blackness. The stories to tell a generation.
Of the great fight, that felt so wrong.

Sirens

Like a ship lost at sea.
Suffering in circumstance.
Battling the waves.
The tempest explodes and soaks each bone.
Weighted already by lack and distrust.
Yet in the surf the song swells.
A calling, rippling over the wounds.
Run away, if you were to listen closely.
But the beauty forgoes all sense of reason.
What was really meant for you and I?
Seems fallen from the perfect sky.
And dances now in the sea, for we; crying into ecstasy.
They touch us deep, and lick the skin.
An immodest turn that welcomes the watchers.
Hungry eyes devour each weakness.
Humility is placed in dirty pockets.
Like an apple, in the mouth of the fallen.
These sirens call, with whispers and smoke.
Consuming the threads of morals, which catch in their throats.
They will have their way, and destroy all before them.
Collapsing in a sweet undoing.
As we fall to the bottom of the sea.
And they retreat, to shadows and forest of opportunity.
Silence there, and nothing more.