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

viernes, 15 de junio de 2018

Trip to the city


   The smell of books was overwhelming but soothing at the same time. The rows and rows of books stacked to the ceiling, stood there still forever, as the sunlight came in through the big windows and caressed different parts of them. It was a beautiful place that seemed to be miles away fro many sound that could be caused in the world. Only a very low-pitch murmur could be heard, caused by people flipping pages or gently breathing as they immersed themselves into the worlds described in their books.

 Martina walked towards the center of the gigantic room and tried to appreciate the beauty of the place from there. Sadly, it could not be done. It was way too big and with many hallways and corners to see it all at once. So she walked to a metal staircase instead and ascended to the second level, which had been built all around the edge, enabling views over the first floor were people were granted access to the library and the books. The view from there was much better but there was still a lot to explore.

 However, Martina was not there to explore the place. She was there to look for a specific book. She had the name of it in a small piece of paper she had in her pocket, given to her by her father. He needed it in order to complete a paper he was writing for the university he worked on. It was only to check some facts and maybe give a bit more of information to the reader. He had sent his daughter to this mission because she wasn’t doing much at home, as the summer holidays had recently begun.

 At first, she thought it would be very boring to go to a library. After all, they were not known to be the best places to have any kind of fun. Besides, she had to walk to the metro station and then take the train to downtown and then walk once more, this time towards the library building. It was quite a trip from her home. Such a long trip it was that, her father, had given her some money to pay herself some lunch after she had grabbed the book. However, he had asked for her to come home “as soon as possible”.

 That was all before she had seen the beauty of the place, of its main room at least. Because, according to a sign outside of the main door, there were lots of different rooms, further divided in sections. She had entered the largest one but the truth was that she had no idea if the book she was looking for was there. Martina had just been pushed inside by a feeling that she had the moment she saw the very tall windows and the sun entering in the most beautiful way. It took her a while to realize that she had a mission to accomplish and that her father was waiting for him back at home.

 She descended the metal staircase and almost ran towards the main counter. It was obviously not a thing people should do because a couple of people raise their heads only to look at her disapprovingly. Martina slowed down and almost tiptoed the rest of the way. When she got to the counter, she waited for one of the ladies that worked there to notice her. As she did, she saw a weird looking kid come into the room and walk straight into a dark corridor to the left. He was wearing strange clothes and what looked like makeup.

 One of the ladies interrupted the moment and Martina just passed her the piece of paper her father had written on. The woman moved her glasses a bit, as if she needed to make out what she was reading. The woman did not say a word and Martina had no idea what to say. There was a very uncomfortable silence, and that’s was in a place were silence is pretty much the norm. The woman then turned around and started using a computer, probably looking for the book’s location in the massive collection of the library.

 Again, Martina had time to turn around and look at the rows and rows of tables, where people were reading and trying to study. It was kind of amazing how some of them were reading only one book, in some cases one of the most popular novels in existence, and how others had a huge stack of them next to their main read or a laptop. Martina smiled because places like those were almost extinct at it was nice to see that they kept going on, no matter what happened with life and technology in the world.

 The woman came back from her computer and told Martina that book was a very unique exemplary and that a special permit had to be granted. Martina started getting worried but the woman asked her if it was possible for her to call her father, who they would talk to in order to make the permit that morning. Martina grabbed her cellphone and called him, passing him on to the lady. They talked for a long time, which wasn’t very nice for Martina, as she was already getting hungry and her cellphone battery was not eternal.

 When the woman finished, she told Martina that her father would have to talk to the manager of the library too. They were kind of doing that right then, so she would have to wait for a while until the permit was approved. When Martina was about to ask how much time that would take, the lady only said “In an hour” and started talking to another person. Martina was a bit surprised by that attitude but decided to make the best of it and have something to eat before coming back for the damn book. She was already thinking of a big subway sandwich when she noticed the kid she had seen before.

 He was coming out of the dark corner he had entered. Martina now noticed he was wearing something resembling a cape. He apparently felt her eyes on him because he stared for a bit, until she decided to move on and walk out of the building. The kid passed her on the stairs outside and almost ran down the street. Martina stayed there for a bit, both because she was thinking about where the subs place was located but also wondering what that kid’s deal was. He looked very suspicious and way too young to be that.

 She remembered the place was only one block away, so she walked slowly and enjoyed the sun hitting her head. She noticed then that the library was a bit colder than the outside, probably because of all the marble and other stones that had been used for the construction of the building. As she got near the restaurant, Martina tried to remember if she had ever been inside the library before, but she somehow could not remember. It was as if accessing those files in its head was not possible.

 Inside the restaurant, Martina bought one of the biggest subs, with everything on it. She asked for the spicy sauce and potato chips with tomato flavor as a side. Instead of soda, she asked for an iced tea. After paying, she took her tray to a small table by the window and sat down there to have a view of the people passing by and the sun moving along the front parts of the building and over the sidewalk. The city could be very nice sometimes, even if she didn’t get very excited to be there often. Maybe that could change.

 As she bit her sub for the first time, and then cleaned the sides of her mouth with a napkin, Martina saw the kid with a cape walking on the other side of the street. He had just come out of a small store. In the front it said “Mystical treats” and it was adorned with many candles and painted all in black. It looked like a very spooky place for a kid that age (maybe ten or twelve). The fun part was, Martina thought as she took another bite, that no one else seemed to be noticing the kid with the cape. As if he was invisible or something.

 It was then when Martina realized something. The same thing had happened in the library. She had been the only one looking at the kid there too and he looked quite surprised and even angry when Martina stared at him. It was as if he was not very used to that happening to him.

 As she sipped some iced tea, Martina stopped and left her food on the tray. The kid was still on the other side of the sidewalk, in front of another store: “Mirror Wonderland”. But that was not the most surprising part. The fact that the kid had no reflection on any of the mirrors in the storefront was.

lunes, 28 de mayo de 2018

Dragon Valley


   The real treasure of the mountains was hidden beyond the highest peaks, in a very difficult to reach valley. The water there was the purest in the world and those who went there had, in general, no intention of going back. The monastery of the valley of the Dragon was the crown jewel of the mountain range, covered in gold leaf and constructed for thousands of years, with the help of every single monk that had ever arrived there to dedicate his or her life to the cause of enlightenment and knowledge.

 Men and women were allowed in the temple and they were not segregated in any way. Actually, people of every single ethnicity had at one point lived there as a monk. It was a welcoming community, who had no interest in the personal lives of their people. They only lived to achieve the highest state of knowledge and compassion. They believed humanity existed to learn all that it could and to teach others about the wonders of the universe. They thought that teaching and learning were the pillars of any civilized society.

 That’s why, once in a lifetime for every single monk, they had to live the monastery and journey to the outside world in order to teach somewhere whatever they thought people had to learn. Some went to the villages in the outskirts of the mountain range. Meanwhile, others were more adventurous and traveled further, to enormous cities and remote towns where they felt they could make a real connection with people. Each one decided the destination on his or her own, no obligations attached, except for one.

 They always had to come back. The life of the monks of the Valley of the Dragon was forever tied to the monastery. After a year outside, they were obliged to come back and dedicate the rest of their lives to further learning and teaching, in the form of writing books or painting illustrative art. They could also help restoring the building, as it was getting very old or they could even attempt to take care of the few crops and animals that they had in that remote space so far into the mountain, so high up too.

 Most of the monks never had a problem with coming back to their monastery. After all, it was there where they had felt the ray of enlightenment for the first time and that was a sensation no one could really forget or dismiss so easily. That’s why they felt compelled to go back and keep helping their fellow monks and humanity in their quest to be more cultured and aware of the wisdom that was in all things. However, they had been various exceptions of monks not coming back the moment they were supposed to, which was dealt with in the most sensitive but also serious way their community could.

 They would send another monk to the place were the person that didn’t want to go back was and they attempted to talk to them in order to understand why they want to stay in the outside world. They would hear the complaints and the thought of their fellow brothers and sisters and then they would try to make them realize how all of their fears came from places of insecurity and not from any hatred or ill will against their faith. After such a profound conversation, most runaway monks would come to their senses and head back home.

 But yes, they were very few that even after the conversation had no intention of going back. Maybe they had remembered what they had missed from the outside world and they just wanted to experience all of that more permanently. Complaints of that nature were unfounded as the monastery had found a way to use technology in their own advantage, for example protecting the most ancient texts with the help of very advances machines and using the internet to further their cause and connect with others seeking the same goal.

 The monastery had actually been in contact with several universities in the world and they would often send their monks to those places in their year of teaching, in order to exchange ideas and learn from others who were also seeking the answers in nature. It was mutually beneficial and it was an experience that could make a person grow beyond his or hers wildest dreams. Maybe even love would be born from such exchanges and the monastery welcomed it with open arms. They were not celibate.

 In recent years, the monastery had allowed the construction of small huts all around the Dragon Valley in order to accommodate some families that had decided to live there permanently. Life was much simpler, filled with hard work but with a sense of being able to actually help people in a meaningful way. That’s why every monk could decide when and where to go for his teaching year. It was left open to their choices in order to let them feel their way through life, not based on what others said.

 However, the place was still remote. Technology had also been used in order to install disruptors in the vicinity of the mountains, in order for satellite imagery to be unavailable for the whole area and to render high-tech equipment obsolete if someone wanted to find the valley through “easier” means. Whoever wanted to join the order had to do it with conviction, by foot and with effort. It couldn’t be in any other way. Men, women and children were all equals in that way and it happened to be the best way to make a proper selection of who deserved to be there and who didn’t.

 Dragon Valley was therefore a small fragment of the world that most people had never seen or even heard of in their lives. Sometimes it sounded like a myth or a legend, and people would even dismiss it as fictional. That wasn’t a problem for the people that lived there, at all.

 They would live their lives trying hard to actually have something to show for after years of studying and learning from the world around them. They tried not to just be here, doing things, but actually trying to hear the world and also speaking back to it. Their lives were always filled with purpose.

miércoles, 23 de mayo de 2018

Synthetics


   The small teddy bear looked out through the railing, trying to catch a glimpse of what the other were looking at: indeed, some kind of ship was descending rapidly through the thick clouds that engulfed the tower and soon disappeared beneath them. It was well known by every synthetic life form, that the Spire had been built tall enough to observe anything happening in the vicinity, for thousands of kilometers. The air was very thin up there but that wasn’t a problem for their kind. It had never been.

 Teddy pulled back from the railing and descended with other synthetics to level Ninety, where they had their quarters. Some others were still in the elevator when it closed, as they were heading for the tracking center in the lower levels. Most of those synthetics were what one would call scientists and anything that seemed odd or out of place was extremely interesting to them. For Teddy though, something falling from the sky was not that much of a new thing, as he had seen it happen so many times.

 Secretly, most synthetics were hoping one of those things falling from the sky would be a ship piloted by their former masters, the former rulers of that world. They had left thousands of years ago, leaving behind many of their creations. The synthetics had been something like their offspring and they had been abandoned from one day to the other. It hadn’t happened for no reason: the planet had become toxic for their masters and if they wanted to survive they had to leave as soon as it was possible for them.

 The consequence was leaving their planet to the synthetics, which over the years, decided to take charge of things and try to make the planet more hospitable. It took a very long time, but the air in the surface eventually became breathable and they were even able to recreate water and vegetation, as it had been in the past. Of course, synthetics had no need for all of that as they couldn’t breathe or feel like their former masters, but it was the sense of achievement and purpose that drove them to do all of that.

 Teddy had belonged, so long ago, to a series of children, all from the same family. He had no recollection of when and how he had been made but he knew that he was one of very few toys that could actually interact with their owners in a more realistic way. However, he was left behind as if he had been another working droid, with no mind or soul of his own. He always wondered why he had been left behind and many answers would often come up in his head. The one he liked the most was the one where his owner had just being forced to leave him there, so no one was to blame.

 When the darkness of the night came, the synthetics took their time to recharge and fix themselves if they had to. Teddy had been repaired fairly recently, so he was working just fine. He was about to power down in order to rest for a while, not that synthetics needed it, when an alarm was heard all over the Spire. Through a series of speakers, every single inhabitant of the tallest structure on Earth was able to hear one of their top scientists say that, the ship that had fallen from the sky seemed to have brought back a human.

  Everyone went insane. Some more than others. It has to be said that most of them still missed, in one way or the other, their old masters. They didn’t think much of the fact that they had been left there alone, on a decaying planet. Most synthetics felt that humans had been obliged to do what they did, so there was no such thing as a choice. Many dreamt of the day they could encounter humans again, in order to show them how well they had evolved and how they had recuperated their planet from certain doom.

 Everyone descended to the lowest level of the Spire and did something they very rarely, if ever, did: they gathered outside, at night, by the tower, and waited until everyone was there. When realized they were complete, the scientists exposed their findings while talking from a boulder that was higher than the rest of the synthetics. That way they could speak loud and their voice would reach even the smallest synthetics like Teddy, who decided to sit down as he heard what his companions had to say.

 They showed images of the ship, taken earlier by a drone. The metallic transportation was interesting in shape, but synthetics had never really been that interested in moving beyond the planet. So travelling from somewhere very far to there, was not something that impressed them or interested them. However, the last few pictures revealed what they had all descended to see. Just before the drone had left the area, the ship had opened some kind of door and a silhouette could be seen walking out of the ship.

 Maybe it was the dirt being moved by the wind or the fact that the drone was not fully charged when it started its adventure, but the pictures were not top quality at all. The shape everyone could see in the pictures was indeed something that looked like a human, as most of them did by the way, but who says that no other creatures in the universe has been created the same way? Everyone was in doubts, discussing their points of view, their overall reaction. Then, the scientists announced an expedition to leave for the landing site in order to encounter the creature, whatever it was.

 As they were all connected via a special network, the chosen ones to go to the ship were chosen in a few seconds. Teddy had insisted to go but he was afraid he would be denied the opportunity. However, he was accepted on the grounds that his general aspect might prove to be an advantage if the visitor was indeed a human. After all, he was smaller than most synthetics and his appearance was soft and adorable. No one would dare harm such a cute little bear, or at least not it if they knew what he was and what he was created to do.

 The team left that very night, in order to get there before sundown. The landing site was not that near but they could reach it easily with transportations they had rebuilt after the humans had left. They had their versions of trains and cars, and also planes and even helicopters. They chose to hop on to something very similar to a jeep and go on their way. No one talked during the trip, as they were all very nervous of what they would encounter. What if it was something else, something dangerous?

 The moment they reached the site, they were amazed at how clean the ship looked. It sparkled in the sun, as it was setting. It had only a couple of windows and the rocket busters to help it come down were easily visible. They didn’t have much time to take a look: when one of them approached the ship, the door opened as it had happened on the images the drone had taken. And, as in the pictures too, a creature came out through the door and greeted them. None of them could really believe what they were watching.

 It wasn’t a human. It was a synthetic, just like them. It was just more refined and clean; its parts were made from things no one on Earth had ever seen. He actually looked like a human, walked like one and even talked like one. But they knew he wasn’t real, he wasn’t one of the former masters. It was another one of their creations, just like they themselves had been all those years ago. For a while, they just looked at each other, confirming that all of what they were thinking was correct.

 When it spoke though, the synthetics realized something very important about it: it had been sent by the humans to their former planet, in order to check on it and see what had become of the place they had once called home. The android even played a video for them, recorded a long time ago.

 A human male and a human woman explained their curiosity to see their former planet but also their sadness that the ship would take many years to reach it. However, they thought it was worth their time and effort. And the synthetics agreed, even if they didn’t really know what to do next.

viernes, 18 de mayo de 2018

Reflection


   Once I got out of the shower, I looked at the mirror and realized no one was looking back to me. I hadn’t become a vampire or anything, it was just the steam that had rendered the mirror blurry and nothing could be seen. For a few seconds, however, I tried to look at myself on there. I pierced the glass, the fog and the humidity, but there was no one on the other side. It was better that way, I thought. I had never really liked mirrors but now I felt almost compelled to look at my face whenever I crossed paths with one.

 You see, I had accident a few months back and I got a very bad injury on my face. A piece of glass flew from the broken car window and slashed part of my right cheek. It was a deep cut and I lost a lot of blood because of it. Luckily, that was the most serious injury anyone received that day. No one died but I felt I was dying while they took me to the hospital and tried to save my face. And they did, they were really skillful at making my face look as if nothing had happened. A couple of days later, I was going home.

 However, I had seen myself in a mirror as they pushed my stretcher through the hospital. For a moment, they left me by an office and inside; I was able to look at my face and how bad the injury was. At first, I was too distraught to even make a sound. But then, not even a minute later, I started screaming and crying. I tried to get off the stretcher but a male nurse grabbed me and held me against the moving bed while a female nurse came in with a syringe and injected me with something that made me fall asleep.

 Hours later, I woke up in a dark bedroom. Everything had being done and I had no idea how many hours they had spent trying to save my face. I also had no idea they had been successful, so when I got off the bed and went into the bathroom to check on my face and so the bandages, the blood and the swelling, I never thought I would be the same ever again. I cried a little bit and then went back to bed. This time, I had no strength to scream or yell or do anything besides curl beneath the covers and let time pass.

 The day they released me, the doctor took off the bandages and let me see myself on a small mirror. There was a lot of swelling still and some dried up blood but my face actually looked normal. I mean, it didn’t seem anything had happened, although I told him that I still felt the sting of the glass slashing my face. He told me it was a normal feeling to have and that I could go to the hospital’s psychologist if I needed any help with coping. I told my mother right there to take me home, as I had a greater urge to get to my bedroom than talking to some stranger about my feelings.

 When I got there, I told my family I was going to sleep and asked them to not bother me for the rest of the day. I wasn’t hungry at all and just wanted to lie in bed for a long while. They had nothing to say against it, because who would? No one would ever go against the wishes of a person that has just been released from a hospital. So I went into my room, locked the door and just sat on my bed for a long time. I stared at different things, thinking about what had happened and what effect it had in me.

 Once in a while, I remembered I was supposed to take off my clothes and put on pajamas or something. So I would take off one shoe and then stare at something for a while. And then take off the other shoe and stare for a while at something else. It took me hours to wake up from my daydreaming and get naked. When I realized I could see my feet, my penis, my chest and my hands, I realized what had been bothering me about all that had happened. Again, I stood up and walked to the closet.

 On the door, on the inside part of the closet, I had a full-length mirror. I stood up in front of it, my bedroom a bit dark. I was tempted to turn on the lights or open up the curtains, by I didn’t. I pierced through that glass until I saw myself. I saw what I had seen for so long: a body I had always been at odds with. The body I had been born with and had tried to mold to no avail. I moved a little but my opinion of it didn’t change. It brought tears to my eyes, because I realized I was still that young boy from many years ago.

 I had tried exercising in all sorts of ways. I had tried poses in pictures, different kinds of outlets. I had tried all sorts of things and now I was almost thirty years old and I had realized that all my fears and insecurities were still there. I could hear people talk and laugh and then the scar on my face would get larger and more visible, like a red crater on my face. My stretch marks looked brighter and my penis looked smaller. And then I grabbed a shoe from the floor and threw at the mirror, shattering in several pieces.

 They found me on the floor, crying in silence with a piece of glass in my hand. My fingers were all bloody and my eyes were lost, far from that bedroom. They rushed me to the hospital naked, as they had found me, trying to prevent more blood to leave my body. I had used that piece of glass on myself.

 I spent years in therapy, months in a special facility and countless hours trying to get over all of it. I’ve never been able to completely but at least I get to breath now, as never before. However, I now always stop at mirrors and pierce them with my eyes.

 I do it in defiance of what they had done to so many others and to me.  Of what I had done to myself because of the world, because of all the pressures coming from places I cannot even explain. I still feel it but I can now fight it. And I will keep on fighting as long as I can.