Thursday, June 14, 2012

Short Story: UNKNOWN




11:42. His chest felt heavy; a feeling he had never before felt. He was void of an adjective amid his vast vocabulary, that could accurately, and precisely describe the feeling moving across his chest, like a slab of marble, or a grand piano being slowly dragged across it. He closed his eyes against the dim light emanating from his bedside lamp, as fatigue began to shroud its tedious, yet heavy wings around his body.

He had spent the day with Farrow. The two of them visited the old, and vacant church on Clark Avenue; apparently, some revelation would have taken place, had they arrived two minutes earlier. Marlowe was disappointed that they had missed it, but more than he was crestfallen; he was passive. He had for long been despondent toward the news of the revelation, and when Farrow had brought it up, time after time, he had felt his insides fold like neatly ironed laundry by the hands of some clumsy domestic, before being scattered across some frozen landscape upon which he jolted, and attempted to hurl himself upward, but the frozen platform had by then, already swallowed half his body into its icy chasm. Farrow was optimistic about it; parading about haughtily, and professing his anticipation to anyone not deaf. He had always been passionate, perhaps too passionate, Marlowe thought, when it came to the secular realm. Perhaps he had so been birthed; birthed to serve the outer world- the world which was feared by many. Yet he aspired to embrace it, as if it were his newborn sister, or a regal cloth touched by a prince. 

Marlowe forced himself from his sweat-stained duvet and for a minute, stood silently, resembling someone whose sight had just been dumbfounded by the appearance of a ghost; his arm rested weakly against his peeling door frame, all the while his chest heaved back and forth, like a demented robot whose wires had, by some force, been tweaked. He tried to stop pondering over the revelation, and Farrows anxiousness. He tried to think only of what he could write next; writing was an escape- a tunnel, as he had so often described it, to anyone who had asked him why he did it. He always thought that they were a little inquisitive or idiotic rather, especially when they asked him to write something for them.

"Is it going to be like this every night now, Marlowe?" It was Shilo, and his near-husky, machine-like voice. He was standing, arms folded, at the end of the long and unlit passage; he was merely a shadow, yet so sturdy, and poised with the same verbosity that had, eons back, drawn Marlowe in. 
"Because if it is," he continued; his voice sterner, and seemingly colder this time. Marlowe knew, intuitively that he meant business, and any chance to transform this moment into a more pleasant one, was annihilated by that very embodiment of authority that stood, arms folded at the end of the passage. "I am going to leave Marlowe. I can't carry on like this; everyday we're fighting. If we're not battling addictions, we're battling things that happen only in your mind. I can't carry on like this! Look at you emaciating before me; one would swear I carry the badge of a nurse."

Marlowe was speechless; Shilo was right, and he had every right to be furious- more the right to be tired. There was too much truth in every word that fell from Shilo's mouth, confidently, like dice from the hand of an experienced gambler, who had memorized the game, and found out how to win. It wasn't memory that could save him here, and neither was it truth; actually, Marlowe thought, the truth could only lead him astray.
"I'm sorry," He murmured. It was guilt consuming every possible explanation, or reason he could put forth to convince Shilo. But after guilt, there was only truth, and then pain, no reason. You can't be forgiven when your truth, no matter how justifiable, causes the heart of another to lose its truth.

"You're sorry?" Shilo laughingly asked. "What are you sorry about?" 
"For everything I put you through, Shilo." He surprised himself with this influx of words.
"Forgive yourself Marlowe," Shilo said sternly before moving closer towards him. He metamorphosed, gradually, from a mere shadow, to the more distinct outline of a boy, with his blonde curls glistening in the dim light that splattered from within Marlowe's room. His sky blue eyes were big and bright as an owls but with the beauty of an angel's. His piety, and sheer beauty were some of the things Marlowe had yet to make sense of.
"I made too many mistakes!" Marlowe began to shout; trembling slightly, his hand falling clumsily from the door frame, slapping his sides so that a loud squeak of a sound echoed across the passage. "I hurt so many people, don't you think I know that Shilo? Don't you think it bothers me, every single night of my godforsaken existence? Or am I wrong here? Does agreeing with me make you less glorified, and perfect than you already are?"
He knew he was speaking illogically, and that he was being nonsensical. Shilo had always agreed with him; in fact, he was more of the demigod, while Shilo was the mortal with all the beauty, who had been drawn to him. It was a lie. They had been drawn to each other. Could he reverse the effects of the statements he had just proposed? In the few minutes ticking between his cries, and Shilo's response, he could feel his heart start to dissolve; black molasses heart he whispered to himself. But it was heavy molasses; thick, like sinking sand with the power of the ocean- against the tides of demented waves, there are no fists clenched tight enough to withstand such ferocity. He felt small, smaller than a mouse, and yet the shame he felt was much bigger in magnitude, than the palatial contours of a palace, or perhaps larger than anything largest upon the mortal earth.
"There are no more justices left to define mercy on your behalf, Shilo. The only thing left now is death, and yet..." Shilo paused to laugh softly and shake his head in disbelief. He half-turned, rousing the impression that he was preparing to walk away, but he had his back towards Marlowe now. Could he be showing him disrespect?
"Yet," he continued. "Death is your biggest fear."
"Be fearful of anything your mind cannot perceive of; the unknown has more forks than the devil." Marlowe whispered, turning into his room and walking towards the window through which the moon could be seen clearly, and boldly, as if it had been dragged, and then tied, by invisible ropes, to the many billowing trees in the backyard of the manor house.
"The unknown is where the imagination shouldn't wander, as a prerequisite, it is never wise to live through invented scenarios. By such thoughts, one is either a false hero, or a defeated warrior."
"You are right, Shilo." Marlowe smiled, his face moon-splashed, so that he looked as if he was standing directly below a bright UV light.
"Of course I am right, Marlowe. You think I know nothing of philosophy, and how the sorcerers converse. You think I lack fluency in the language of the secular? There's only one thing I don't understand, and that is you. Now, until you tell me what it is you and Farrow are after, I will not relent pestering you...pedantically so." He smiled slyly, his blue eyes glistening as surfaces of bold crystal would beneath banquet chandeliers. 

"Where is it?" A woman yelled. Her voice was raspy, cold, and it sent shivers through his body that had already been seemingly dipped into ice water. There was only darkness, and some indiscernible shadows began to move, eerily towards him. He couldn't make out if they were human, or beast, yet his gut told him that whichever they were, they were far more sinister than he thought. He began to press himself against the cold surface behind him; he couldn't make out the texture thereof, but it was the only comfort around him; everything else was obscured by the darkness. He could hear footsteps, specifically those of a woman's high heels, clinking against what he assumed was the similar surface to that of an ice rink. The cold pierced his skin savagely; the wind at its rise, every few minutes or so, gave him the impression that his skin was being pulled, slowly from his body. He couldn't feel his feet, though he knew, by some power vested in him, that they were submerged in murky ice water. He wriggled his body, and tried to push himself forward but he was weak. His bones had been weakened by the cold, perhaps weaker than an infants. He ceased struggling against the unknown force, which had been holding him captive, out of fear that should he move to hard, he would break.

Breath touched his left cheek; warm breath followed by the heavenly scent of soft musk. It was the woman whose high heeled footsteps he had been hearing all this time. What did she want from him?
He was afraid, he wanted to cry but he knew it would be to no avail; especially in the eyes of his captors. He heard some people laughing in the distance, and the slow murmur of a distant conversation, between more than two people, he presumed. The woman touched his face with her warm hand, and almost instantaneously, he fell to the ground, that had now turned to a mahogany wooded surface. She was tall, pallid, and had eyes like a wolf's. He recognized her immediately; she had come, he knew it all along. She towered above him, looking down at him though her constantly changing eyes. She was intimidating, breathing heavily with a satisfied look strewn across her colour-drained face. Her hair was tied into a curly bun; the curls escaping the grip of the band, falling recklessly from her head onto her heaving shoulders, that looked more like concrete slabs than shoulders.

"The truth, Marlowe." She breathed. She raised a shiny, stick-shaped, crystal object before his face, from which a great flow of purple light begaon to shoot. It was like an explosion moving magically from her hands through the air, to the unseen end of the room. "Give me the truth!" She implored of him, before grasping his shirt in her warm, and tight fist. She smelled of death, mangled with the scent of musk he had inhaled earlier, and he could see very little compassion, or sympathy emanating from her eyes, that were now a shade of grey he had never before seen, nor imagined. She loosened her grip, and let him fall like a rag doll onto the carpet below.

"If you want to play a game," she said softly, in the voice of a child, with her back towards him. "Then we will play a game!" She spun around suddenly, at which gesture, men cloaked in dark attire began to magically appear inside the room, and start walking speedily towards him. On his backside, he began to crawl backward, his face leaked of colour, with his mouth gaped like the opening of a cave. The woman scurried towards him, holding the crystal stick in her hand. He knew she was going to do it; now was the time- the only time.

"Marlowe, for goodness sake, look at you, you're sweating a pond!" It was Shilo towering above him. The bedroom light was on, partially blinding him. He was drenched in sweat, and his joints were tightened from the effects of the dream. His mouth, dry, and barely able to move, felt numb. He pushed his body forward, and took the glass of water from Shilo's hand.
"How long did it last?" He asked tiredly.
"I can't be sure." Shilo answered him. "Maybe about five minutes, but still I can't be sure."
"I'm glad it's over..." He exhaled, throwing himself back onto the bed.
"It's not over Marlowe..." Shilo declared eerily. "It's only starting."


© Raeez Jacobs. 2012. All rights reserved.

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