Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta death. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta death. Mostrar todas las entradas

miércoles, 20 de junio de 2018

Survival


   Fire blurred my vision every single time I leaned over my right leg to run. It hurt like nothing else had ever hurt me, but I had no choice. Running required me to be agile, not minding what was happening with the rest of my body. Those legs that had carried me around all my life had to work at the top of their game, never minding anything else. I felt the taste of iron in my mouth and my mind seemed to leave my body for a couple of moments, but somehow I moved on through the night, like a wraith between rocks and chopped trees.

 When light finally broke the darkness of the night, there was not much to look at anyway. The fields had been almost carbonized and smoke filled every single corner of the once green and lush environment. I stopped and tried to hear the world around me. My ears were buzzing and my head was turning like crazy but I tried anyway but I couldn’t hear a thing. It was then when I noticed that my leg was in a horrible state, a large part opened and spilling blood all over. However, the pain was not as bad as it was supposed to be.

 I tasted iron again and realized I had bitten my tongue while running. There was blood on my head too but I didn’t touch myself to know where it was coming from. It was urgent to find a place to get the proper help I need because, after all that had happened, I was still alive. They had sent troops after me, I had been strapped to a torture table for days and yet there I was, in the middle of a field that they had apparently abandoned. I started walking once more, trying to find a proper exit to that horrible place.

 I might have wondered through the smoke for several hours. I knew it was still day because there was light but it was very hard to see where the Sun was exactly. I tried to identify it a couple of times but it was absolutely useless. So I moved on, walking through the scorched plains, hoping to find a place to rest for a while. I have to confess I never thought of anyone else during that time, I had only myself in mind. What would I be good for if I died? The only way to help others was if I made it alive to the other side.

 When light began to wane, I found the first untouched trees that I had seen in several days, maybe more. I had no idea how much time had passed since everything had started. But there they were, smelling like smoke, with the tips of their leaves burned, but alive nevertheless. I walked into the forest, with a frankly good mood. No one would enter the forest to only look for me. There was a lot more to do in the world than to go after one person that got away. Maybe they thought nature, or what remained of it, would finish the job and make my bones be food for the ground.

 In the dark, I eventually found something of use. It was a small village, made of about a dozen little houses. It looked like one of those places were people gather when they expect to be mining for something, one of those temporal towns that were built back in the day, when retrieving the remaining minerals was of outmost importance for the world. Now, all those miners and their families worked in the big factories in the cities. The old villages had been left to rot under the sun and the rain and everything else.

 Plants had overrun the place, flowers growing everywhere. The smoke around there was much less dense. I was able to breathe a little bit easier. I walked around and eventually found the little hut that had worked as the doctor’s office. Maybe they hadn’t been able to attract a proper doctor to that remote place, only a nurse or maybe someone that came once every two or three weeks to help as much as they could. As I expected, there wasn’t a lot to use around there but almost nothing was better than nothing at all.

 I cured my wounds with whatever there was around and I was lucky enough to discover a linen closet filled with clean sheets and other fabrics. I cut a large one in order to use as bandages for my wounds. My body felt a little better, especially when I lay down in a cot. There was only the light of the moon, which happened to be almost getting to its fullest state. The beautiful pearl color of its surface, visible past the sheet of smoke, made me think of the past, of simpler times that I had been lucky enough to live.

 I fell asleep, dreaming about things that I remembered but mostly about things I had no idea how to understand. It was obvious that I had begun to forget things. Their attempts to make me less of a human had actually worked, as I didn’t feel like my old self anymore. My dream did not make any sense and everyone in it, or most of them at least, felt as a fabrication of my mind or maybe even someone else’s. It was so disturbing, that I woke up very suddenly, sweating profusely and damning my humanity.

 I realized I had slept much more than I had thought. It was morning already and the sound of birds reached me. For a moment, it seemed very normal. But then I realized there was no way. The plain had been destroyed or at least most of it. It was improbable that wildlife would have found a way to survive the destruction of the war and all other things that had happened. I stood up and went running outside, realizing I was not dreaming at all. There was a bird singing somewhere close, and I wanted to see it. I wanted to remember what a bird looked like, one that was real.

 I walked, slowly, out of the smoky cloud that had covered me for hours, maybe even more time. I seemed to be walking on the edge of the forest. The bird was chirping away, probably flying away slowly. I eventually arrived to a place where the trees began to be shorter and there were more rocks and reddish soil. It was then when I saw the little bird making the noise. It was small, brown in color and a little bit puffy. I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. It was happy and talented and free. That was the most important: free.

 I wanted to go closer, to touch him, at least for a moment. But another sound cut me off from desire. The bird seemed to notice it too because it suddenly stopped singing. It stayed on its branch, silently staring right into a group of trees. Then, suddenly and very fast, a bullet rushed through the air and blew up the bird into oblivion. I saw its feathers fall slowly to the ground. I saw beauty being destroyed just because it was there. I felt enraged but also very much confused. I really didn’t like that at all.

 A group of two men and a woman came from the trees. I had walked back a bit just before, hiding behind the thickest tree I had been able to find. I trembled when I realized who they were: Ravagers. They were mercenaries that captured rebels in order to surrender them in exchange for money or food. Sometimes even more ammo for their guns. They didn’t care at all for the rights of others to live or to think differently. That was all done a long time ago. They had sold their souls for a cheap price.

 The woman grabbed the bird from the ground and did something I only heard, because I couldn’t make myself watch any of it. I only heard the crackling of bones and then laughter. I knew of their sadistic ways, identical to those of the people in power. There was no real difference between them. They had all been complacent in what had happened in the country. In the world, even. I only waited for them to go and they eventually did, walking back into the trees, their voices unable to hurt my ears anymore.

 When I felt better, I decided to go back to the village and grab everything I could find that might be useful. I used an old rag to make a sort of bag and put everything I could inside. I put that ball of stuff almost at the end of a thick stick I had found in the forest, getting ready for my next move.

 That night, I decided to walk in the opposite direction of everything that I had seen the day before. They had been the ones to almost kill me. My legs and feet walked on, hoping to move away from everything that had happened. Nevertheless, deep down, I knew that wasn’t at all possible.

lunes, 14 de mayo de 2018

My partner


   When I saw him, I could only laugh. He looked at me exactly in the opposing way, making his eyes turn around as if he had just witnessed the most annoying thing happening right in front of him. That was the kind of relationship we had the moment we started working together. For some reason, our boss had decided our skills complimented each other’s, so he appointed us to missions together very often. I have forgotten how many times I pretended to be his brother, his friends and even his boyfriend or even husband.

 It all depended on the places we had to go and the things we had to do. Sometimes, the mission would be a very relaxing cruise through the Caribbean on an enormous boat that would float peacefully for over a week, carrying carefree tourists around. People that just wanted to get a tan and swim and maybe walk the massive ship, enjoying everything the place had to offer. Yes, I have to confess I loved those kinds of missions but we got assigned to them because they were specifically for rookies in this business.

 I remember one time; only about a year after we got to know each other properly, when we were sent to the Bahamas pretending to be a married gay couple going on an exclusively gay cruise. We had to steal some very important papers out of the office of a very important businessman who happened to be frolicking in the boat with his lover, unknown to his wife. It was a hilarious place and situation to be in, and of course stealing the plans was the easiest part of the whole thing. We did it the first night.

 For the other eight days, we had to hold hands pretending to love each other to death, when in reality we had almost hate for one another. Well, it wasn’t really hated but we certainly didn’t see eye to eye. He was the kind of guy that loves to focus on the job and is obsessed by doing everything by the book, like a little boy scout trapped in an adult man’s body. That to me annoyed me so much that I would often just go rogue for a couple of hours and that would, of course, made him go insane, a result I always loved.

 In the bedrooms, we agreed on sleeping on the same bed but avoiding anything weird during the night. No touching each other’s private space, especially not each other’s bodies. The first one to wake up would be the first one into the shower and so on. After a few months, we had a great system that avoided, almost always, any unpleasant moments during our missions. And as they would often take long periods of time to get over with, we just had to find a way to live with one another. It was almost a sacrifice for both of them and we did it because it was our job.

 However, those were our first missions, years one and two. By the third one, they sent us to shorter missions that required a greater deal of commitment from our part. In not so many words, that means that we had to risk our lives during those assignments. Sometimes, we wouldn’t even see each other but once, in critical moments. Besides those, we would often fly solo and assume unrelated identities. I have to confess it was kind of fun at first, playing to be so many different types of men, so many times.

 But after a while, it got annoying and the stakes started looking at me in the face. On my first mission, I got fired several times and they had to pull me out of a dumpster with a bullet on my thigh and several cuts all over my body. It was a weird experience, which was better than what my former partner was going through. I say former, because sometime after we started that decisive year, the bosses decided we wouldn’t be working together as often as we had done in the past. They said it was the right thing to do.

 However, I heard a drug lord almost killed him, after his disguise as a dealer was blown by some snitch. The snitch got killed right in front of him and the drug lord ordered his people to tie my former partner to a pipe and beat him up in every way they wanted. I have no idea of the details, but some people say he could have been killed if it hadn’t been for his security bracelet, which was a secret piece of equipment we all wear that activates itself if we fail to report to it at least once a day.

 You see, the drug lord took all of his clothes away and let him in a cold basement for at least four days. So the bracelet activated itself, called for back up to that specific location and the agent was saved. I was in a mission during that time, so I just heard it all from others. I was tempted to visit him in the hospital, the moment I was able to go back home, but I decided against it. Actually, I realized I was caring for someone I had never cared before, and that confused me enough to do nothing and go back to my life.

 It was almost a year later when they assigned us to a mission together. This time, it was a classic spy stunt: we had no covers, nothing sleek or sexy or nice. We just had to get our hands on a witness, extract him from a certain country, and go back home with that person alive. It was a nightmarish place to be, a horrible experience to be having. But, between all of it, I have to admit I was comforted when I saw his face in the airport the day we left for our mission. I wanted to tell him something but had no idea what to say. So, again, I decided to stay quiet and focus on the mission at hand.

 As predicted, the situation was dire. We had guns and a contact, but that was all blown to hell the second day of our stay in that dreadful hellhole. A group of guys attempted to blow us up in a crappy hotel. It was just luck that the cleaning lady had gone in before us. I know, that sounds insensitive but you kind of lose that part of yourself in such a job. We just started running and killing them all to get the fuck out of there. And in that moment, we were the best team anyone could have ever hoped for.

 It was as if our minds were connected, as well as our bodies. We didn’t even have to look at each other to work in unison; it was almost like a dance that has all the perfect moves to be the best anyone has ever seen. At the same time, I realized we weren’t the same people that had enjoyed those cruises and nice hotels at the start of this whole thing. We were two entirely different men and it showed. I saw it in his eyes the moment we started running away and I had felt it in myself for a long time before that. It just had been confirmed.

 He surprised me with his knowledge of the underworld of that city. Maybe he had been there before or maybe he had just changed that much. I had heard that after his traumatic experience, he had stayed on his post, taking many other risky assignments. He had a nice fiancé at the start but eventually she left him and no one could point at the exact thing that had caused that rift. However, the job was not one where you could see a lot of happy endings. So I understood if that had been the reason why he had decided to be left alone.

 In time, we got our witness and got her out of that place. It was by the skin of our teeth, as I was shot in the shoulder moments before our party rescued us on the border. The thing was, he had stepped in front of me and blocked most bullets by using a metal door as a shield. Only that one bullet had been able to reach me. Making me lose a lot of blood. I fainted in the helicopter that was carrying us and woke up many days later, back home, in a hospital bed. I was very dizzy, so what I saw seemed very unreal.

 It was him. He was fast asleep in the only furniture in the room other than my hospital bed, a very old sofa that seemed to have seen better days. When the nurse came in, she told me he had been there for over two days, never leaving for his home, never going anywhere. He just stayed there.

 After she left, I watched him sleep for a while. And as I did that, I tried to understand the whole situation. It was confusing for me and I know it must be the same for him. So I just decided to think it through another day. What was important was that I felt safe now, and I could finally rest properly for a few days.

lunes, 30 de abril de 2018

You have a letter


Dear Richard,

 I write this letter hoping it will find its way to you in these moments of war and uncertainty. For a long time now, I have been thinking about you and about the moments we spent together two years ago on my European trip. I know father wanted me to open my eyes and be receptive of all the things I could learn abroad, but the truth is that I only had eyes for you during the whole time. They wanted me to get interested in sciences and arts, but all I wanted was to talk to you about anything. I just wanted to hear your voice.

 Hopefully, this confession letter won’t strike you as odd or coming from a strange place. After all, we did have a moment to speak and you dedicated some very kind words to my person, words that I haven’t forgotten and that have been stuck in my brain for all of this time. I write them over and over in my notebook and when we had class, just before things got worse, I would daydream about that moment over and over again. You could say, Richard that I fell in love with you right then and there.

 Apologies are something I have to ask of you because I know this comes as a surprise. You knew I liked you and I know, or at least I understood, that you thought I was at least interesting. I remember that we were having wine in Lisbon. My father and sister had gone with your aunt to a party in our honor. And I had stayed behind telling them I had lost my notebook, which I had hidden carefully in a drawer. You stayed on with me, pretending to look for the notebook, but you knew it was a lie.

 I have to be clear: I wanted for you to take me on your arms and just stay there with me forever. I remember that, through the window, I could see a cobblestone street lined with beautiful colorful buildings. And beyond that, there was the ocean and up there the sun, shining bright as if it was celebrating our moment. I should’ve asked you for that hug, even if it was for a split second. I just needed it then and I have to confess I still need it right now, in these difficult times.

 Every day we get word from men dying in the fields, men we knew because of father’s job or my mother’s family. My sister’s fiancé, as you certainly know, was killed rather recently. It was horrible and she had to go and pick up the body to give him a proper burial. He didn’t have any parents, so she now mourns as if they had been married. It’s tragic and it scares me because I have no idea who is going to be next.

 Father has been the best kind of parent during these times. I had decided, for a while, to enlist and go to war like all other young men, but he stopped me and told me that there was no way he would lose his son over a war he didn’t believe in. He vouched for me before the men that travel the land picking up young men to send them to die. He told them I had severe health issues that would disable me from playing any role, no matter the importance, in the many battles to be fought at war.

 He had several doctors write different kinds of reports informing military officials of my health. According to those papers, which I read one afternoon after helping mother selling some of her most beloved pieces of porcelain, I’m only a few meters away from death. I have contagious diseases, problems with my bones and muscles, as well as mental issues that would scare anyone from taking me anywhere, to any kind of job. It scares me for my future but, again, I appreciate my father for doing what he did.

 What about you? There’s no war there but I hear there’s a lot of unrest because of some political thing happening. I’m sorry, I haven’t been able to read a lot about the actual situation, this kind of life we are living now is quite exhausting and we find ourselves getting up very early and then staying up until very late. We haven’t gone to war but the city and the government always has something to ask father. We have been forced to entertain military officials and diplomats and even refugees from certain areas.

 I write you this letter in the middle of the night, during a time I should be using to sleep. But don’t worry; thinking of you reading all of this is even more comforting than sleeping. I tend to have a sore back when I wake up and my body feels like levitating, as if I wasn’t really here. I prefer to avoid all of that, at least for this night. Would you hug me right now, if you were here with me in the night? Would I be able to smell that gorgeous scent you wore during the trip? I loved that scent.

 I have tried to look for several ingredients to make a similar kind of aroma but I haven’t been able to find the perfect kind of wood. As you know, the house is surrounded by several trees and we have a small forest beyond the fields, but none of those trees has the right kind of smell I want. Nevertheless, I have found other components and have been creating them in the basement, with that old chemistry kit my father bought for me in Brussels. I never thought I’d use it but, when I have a bit of free time, I spent it down there trying to find my way to you, more or less.

 I promise that, if I find the right ingredients, I will send some of it to you in a small bottle for your personal use. My father has more connections than ever now and, with luck, this letter and the eventual scent would arrive in your hands in a short period of time. How I wish it could be me to give you that present and every other present by hand! I know it is impossible right now but something that makes me going is the hope to see your face once again before I die. And I hope that moment is not very soon.

 Finally, I wanted to tell you that my appreciation of you is not only physical but also of the mind. Of course I was astonished to see you swim that time in the South of France. I have to confess I had to pull myself together in order not to reveal what I felt to everyone that day. But you looked beautiful or even more than that. Maybe it was the light, or the food or just me. I have no idea what it was but I know how I felt… I just hope I can see you again someday, better sooner that later but I whatever life makes of it.

 Before bidding goodbye, I have to ask you to burn this letter after you read it. I cannot allow anyone besides you knowing about all of this. One never knows who lurks in the dark, which has picked up something that we might have left unattended for. My sister asked some questions after the trip and I had to dismiss all of it as her imagination acting up because of her fears about her fiancé and the war, all of which ended up happening. I felt horrible afterwards but she never asked anything again.

 Anyway, this is it. I have to sleep now and you have things to do too.

 If this letter confuses you in any way, please don’t respond. I’ll understand.


 All the best,


 Tom.

lunes, 16 de abril de 2018

Every day is a raining day


   Every day is a raining day. Or at least that’s what it seems like these days. A storm follows another storm, which follows one more after that. There are only a few hours each day for people to get from one place to the other without being drenched in water. The rest of the time is almost impossible to look beyond oneself. There’s this mist that accompanies the rain, a strange vapor that seems to set in whenever water comes down pouring and those are the things some people thrive in.

 Not most but some. Some like to live in the dark, in alleys and dimly lit corridors. They even fear the light and what it brings, the people it lets into their lives. They’d rater stay in the shade with the other creatures of the darkness, as it is more comfortable for them and for the dealings they do with others like them. We all know what happens in those places, in those corners of the world we never really see but that we can imagine, with the distorted help of media, such as movies and television shows.

 The truth is that the darkness is way darker and grittier than we think. It’s not just about ugly people doing ugly things. It’s about every single kind of person doing things that we cannot even imagine. It’s about their lives, taking a turn for the worse and having to head for those shadows in order to survive, probably doing things that we think we would never do. But we haven’t fallen to the darkness, not yet anyways. We don’t even fear that happening because we feel it will never happen to us.

 But it does, all the time and everywhere. There are people right now; doing things they have to do in order to survive the day, maybe even to get some money to have something to eat. It won’t be a nice meal, a complete set of vegetables and proteins. It will most likely be something not very sanitary but cheap enough to sustain a body and a soul for a little longer. It’s what they have and what they can afford. And most of the times, they don’t even care. They just need the fuel to keep going.

 Eating is not a priority in their lives. Some of them don’t even do it often and they have lost all taste for things that they may have loved in their past, their better past. Food is a luxury to think about and to have. They go seeking other stuff, harder stuff; in order to be able to stay up all day doing whatever it is they need to do. Some of them sell drugs, some others sell themselves. Some kill and some are escaping people that want them dead. It’s the lowest and grimiest circle of life, one that barely exists and its filled with the worst this world can produce, which happens to be more than one would think.

 Once they hear thunder in the distance, they run to their hiding spots. These creatures, these people if that’s how you want to call them, they don’t really have a home. They have places to stay and the most fortunate ones amongst the unfortunate have a room somewhere that they can call their own. But it never feels like a proper home because most of the things there are not really theirs, the place is not theirs and they can never stay there for long. It’s just a place to go if they need such a thing, and a storage room.

 Everything is different in the dark. Not only you have to be stronger than in most places, you also have to be a bit smarter than the rest or at least more intuitive than in the real world. People will want to deceive you and there’s not really someone to trust fully. There are no friends or family, they are just people that are ok in one moment and then enemies or strangers the next second. It changes that fast because it has to, because it is a world in a never-ending flux.

 They also feel, like us. That’s not really different. The thing is they have to mask those feelings and even make them harder to manifest. They will love someone if the proper situation arises, they will also hate them with ease. But feelings can be dangerous to have in such a place because they are a weakness others can exploit. So you have to be tough, you have to be a rock even if you do feel like any other human being. Because they’re also humans, just ones that have ran out of any luck.

 Luck is not only about being fortunate enough to have a loving family and the right set of opportunities in life. Luck is also that thing that always seems to help you in moments when nothing seems to be able to give you a proper hand. We are all lucky, up here. In one way or the other. But down there, there is no luck. You actively have to know how to survive; you have to think your every move. One misstep, and you are out. And when you are out in the darkness, the consequences are much more serious.

 The darkness feeds on those who inhabit it. It’s a symbiotic relationship that is very tense and can break in any moment. That’s why those who live in it have to be careful. They don’t have one second to stop and think about life and feelings and how everything around them happens or doesn’t happen. They don’t have that luxury. They have to keep moving, keep doing things in order for their head to stay above water level. Because if for only little moment they forget where they are or who they are, they will drowned in the deep darkness of the world.

 And there’s nothing or no one that can help after that. In this world you are on your own and that is even more of a reality down there. Things may hurt and be scary but the real trick is to adapt fast and use who you are to stay in the most advantageous position you can be in.

 It’s not always easy and many; actually most of those who live in the dark, die without anyone else in the world knowing what ever happened to them. And that’s sad but its also not surprising seeing the kind of species we have become, one that is more than carnivorous but does eat one piece of meat.