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

jueves, 6 de octubre de 2016


   Jean grabbed her purse and the bag where she kept her laptop. She walked very fast but tried not to look angry, disappointed or anything else. She just wanted to leave that place as fast as she could. It was very uncomfortable to stay there after she had been so insulted. As she arrived to the elevator, the door closed as someone was going down just before her. She whispered a course word, frustrated that she had to wait like an idiot in order to leave a please she definitely didn’t wanted to stay in or return ever again. She felt too humiliated.

 Out of nowhere, one of the guys that had been there during her interview walked up to her. He told her that they had been looking for her. A tiny shimmer of light appeared in her heart only to be crushed moments later when she realized the man had come to find her because she had left her pen in the table. What was even more annoying, was that he started talking about the results of the interview and telling her, once again, about all the flaws she had as a writer and so on. She wanted the Earth to swallow her, as his voice was very loud and everyone around seemed to be listening.

 She had to close her eyes and just try to relax by breathing slowly, feeling the air through her body. Ignoring the man was not easy but she could at least think of something else as he talked and talked and talked. The lady that managed the reception on that floor looked at them with surprise and obvious disgust. When Jean opened her eyes, the lady looked at her straight in the eye and shook her head, then looking at the guy. Jean only smiled, thankful that at least one person realized in what an uncomfortable situation she was.

 Finally, the elevator opened up and she stepped in without even acknowledging the man. For a moment, it seemed as though he was going to follow her into the elevator but fortunately he didn’t. He was even able to say anything else to Jean as she pressed hard the button that made the elevator close faster. She then pressed the number for the ground floor and started breathing normally again. She felt seriously awful and couldn’t believe she had to go home now in a bus that would take at least forty-five minutes. She didn’t felt good at all.

 Luckily, the bus didn’t take long to pass and she was able to find a free seat next to the window. She really wasn’t feeling ok and even though she was going to fall asleep, her brain wouldn’t let her. Not only because it may not be the best idea to fall asleep on a bus, but also because she had their words in her head. She could hear them once and again, trashing every single part of the work that she had done for them. Saying that they destroyed her isn’t enough to describe what went on in that conference room. A few tears rolled down her face.

 She had to clean herself with her hand because she had no tissues or anything like that. But it was clear to her that she had no intention to be the crazy woman in the bus that cries “for no reason”. So she tried to clean her tears off and attempted to think about something else. For example, the fact that she had left her family cat by herself. It wasn’t something that she did for the first time but it was something to think about. The cat was obviously ok but she had to create a problem in her mind in order to be able to resist the urge to cry.

 The bus took less time to her stop than it usually did. She hadn’t realized but she had left that office so early that there wasn’t even the normal traffic jam of peak time out in the streets. When she came down of the bus, she checked she had everything with her, including the pen she had forgotten in her pocket. Walking home took only five minutes. Her house had a cute garden that was brimming with light and color as she entered. It was as if nature was trying to cheer her up.

 And it did make her smile at least. When she entered the house, she called for her parents. Fortunately, no one answered back. They were normally there but she didn’t care where and why they had left, she only wanted to go to her run and be able to fall asleep and nap for while, all afternoon was possible. She dropped her purse and laptop bag on the ground and took off her shoes before lying down in bed. She faced upwards, towards the ceiling and, again, she could her all the criticism and the things all those men had said.

 She began to cry again but, this time, Jean didn’t clean her face or attempted to appear tougher than she looked. She didn’t need to do that, as that was her bedroom, her place in the world. There, she could do whatever she wanted and in that moment she wanted feel miserable for her. The words those men had said had been like daggers and they had stabbed her with them once and again and again. It was almost as if they had enjoyed themselves by doing so. To her, it was a very sick thing to do but she only reflected on that many days later.

 It had been really unnecessary to tell her all those things. They didn’t have to sink every single fiber of her soul by saying a lot of things that, even if part of the truth, weren’t as important in real life as they might have portrayed them. They essentially told her she had no idea how to write, that she couldn’t put three words together and that she made no sense whatsoever in what she had written for them. It was an essay about internal practices in very big companies.

 Jean had no idea of that. She had not been to business school or anything like it. She was just a normal girl trying to make her way into the world. She had thought that her English level was good enough for them but apparently it wasn’t. And of course it wasn’t because they had told her that she didn’t need to correct her essay for them and she didn’t. They lied to her because she would always do corrections but they had assured her they weren’t necessary. Besides, she had no idea of any business practices. She had a degree in creative writing, for God’s sakes!

 They had also told her that her way of portraying the business world was not very professional. And when she attempted to explain that she had no experience in the actual business world, as she had told the woman she had applied for the job too, they wouldn’t let her speak. They would only raise her voice and just keep talking. The guy that gave back her pen had been particularly nasty when saying that she shouldn’t have told them that she was actually good in English. At that moment she felt so enraged, she stood up and decided to leave.

After all, three men in one small conference room were attacking her. And it was all because of one miserable test they had set up in order to chose the perfect person for the freelance job they were looking for. They weren’t even going to take her into the company; they only wanted to see if she was available to do some texts for them once in a while. And, later that week, Jean realized the pay for one piece of writing was extremely mediocre compared to what people with no big company attached to them could pay her.

 It wasn’t the fact that they hadn’t hired her but the fact that they had been deceitful in a way and that they had been so rude in explaining to her why she hadn’t been selected. After all, it made no sense that they had invited her to their offices only to insult her. It would have been better to receive an email with two phrases: one thanking her for applying and the other rejecting her application. It would be more direct and less surrounded with bullshit. She realized those guys only wanted to feel superior somehow and they had found their guinea pig in her.

 Jean fell asleep as she was thinking all of this. She woke up to the voice of her mom telling her it was dinnertime. When her parents asked how it had all went down, she told her everything that had happened and that she was planning to move along. It was hard for her to be her age, living with her parents and she did wanted to earn some money for herself but she wasn’t going to stop looking for a perfect fit to her talents. That company wasn’t the only one in the world and she was certain that, sooner or later, someone would be interested in what she could do.

sábado, 30 de abril de 2016

A horse named Alex

   Every single horse ran immediately, except one. Alex, named like that after the leading character in A Clockwork Orange, had stayed exactly were he was and no matter how much the jockey on top of him kicked him, he didn’t move a single millimeter. Everyone in the team was seriously pissed. They had all invested something in the race and now it was all in the trash can just because a horse had decided to show his opinion during a very important event.

 To be fair, it wasn’t that Alex was especially bright or anything, the point was he had been well trained by his former master. Lady Claire had been only ten years old when her parents had gave her that horse as a present for her birthday. It wasn’t exactly a surprise, considering the family had strong connections with horse that went for years. They had even provided the police and the army with horses and won several contests and shows with their best stallions.

 Alex was, nevertheless, Claire’s pet. He was never supposed to run in any race or to be under scrutiny of any person ever. Yet, when he grew up and transformed into a very well formed horse, more than one person started telling Lady Claire’s father that he was wasting a great horse by letting his daughter have him just running around his premises every day. They saw how he played with the girl and how he ran when she asked for a mount and all the other instruments.

 Those men were always around the house, normally just overlooking the training process for the horses that had been specifically raised to enter competitions or to serve certain institutions. But one of them, called David Byrne, got obsessed with the idea of seeing Alex run in a real race. The man insisted daily to Claire’s father that he had to make that horse run and that he could make a lot of money with him. He also proposed him to sell the horse to him and he would be the one to train him in the best conditions possible.

 But of course, as soon as Claire heard someone wanted to take her away from her pet, she insisted to her father that he couldn’t simply take something he had given to her as a preset. The horse was hers and only Clair could be the one to decide if he ran or if he just walked around their estate. And she had no intention of selling or training Alex for anything, so the answer was always a negative one to Mr. Byrne.

 Annoyed by the fact that a girl was on his way and that her father was a man that couldn’t even control his own daughter, he decided to do what he knew most: manipulate the context. He decided to end various deals he had reached with Claire’s father, which put him in very serious problems with a lot of people, like the government and a large amount of private investors that had invested their money in the very large and modern stables in which all of the horses trained and maintained by Claire’s father lived. Although the hit was not very strong at first, it became a problem after some months.

 Byrne was a very bitter human being and he didn’t like to loose at all. He hated the idea of even stepping aside to make someone’s life easier. The moment he had the idea of making Alex his horse and making him run in various competitive events, he had decided in his head that it needed to happen and he wasn’t going to stop for details, like the horse not being his or the opposition of the real owner. Besides, he was rather accustomed to winning his arguments so he knew it was a thing of time until he had his way.

 Claire’s Father, who she called Daddy even when she got older, came to her room one day and decided to ask her for Alex in the nicest tone possible. She was already a woman, almost off to college. She visited Alex every day in the stables and treated him more like a dog than like a horse. She even had the idea of going to study to a school where she could have him around in order to make some exercise and not to loose her connection to the horse. And it was then that her father realized what he had to do: promising something he wasn’t going to do, like taking good care of the horse.

 The girl trusted her father because he was who he was. She left for college months later and once she was out of the picture, her dad attempted to deal with Byrne. The man was obviously beaming with pleasure when he received the call and he even decided to play dumb and not accept the man’s calls for a while. But he eventually went to the stables and talked to him, hearing his proposal. Claire’s father was not ready to sell the horse as, legally; the horse was his daughter’s property. However, he would let Mr. Byrne trained the horse and earn money that way.

 The man accepted. Claire’s father was very glad because it meant they could do business again and he could access all of his former clients again. The money made from the horses was very important to him and his wealth. So Alex begun training under a very harsh woman hired by Byrne, who was supposed to be one of the best in the field. She was a very harsh person and used a whip to make her results even better.

 She made Alex work a lot more than he had ever worked. Called Françoise, the woman was as big as a small horse and cracked the whip every time she thought the creature was not doing what she was asking or had been doing it wrong for a while. She made him run and jump for hours, until Alex was exhausted.

 Even the other trainers, the ones supervising the horses that would go to other owners, seemed appalled by the way Françoise treated Alex and her energy around the stables. Every single horse got quite restless when she appeared and would only calm down after a while. Alex would always respond to her arrival by kicking the wall of his small room with his hind legs. He kicked so hard, he broke the wood once and that had to be mend by Claire’s father.

 He witnessed one day how the woman did the job and was horrified by it but he didn’t say anything because it seemed Byrne was very happy with the results. Françoise stated that the horse would be ready for a race in just a month and Byrne had already booked him for three different events taking place just within days of each other.  The only thing Claire’s father did was checking his calendar and making sure his daughter wasn’t going to be around for those dates.

 He had dodged any questions about her horse for days now. He would always answer to her vaguely over the phone and change the subject abruptly to her studies and she didn’t say anything because she was grateful to her father that he had understood her choices in life and that she had chosen to study a liberal art and not the career he had always wanted for her. So she went along and never insisted on speaking about her horse or anything else really.

 The last month of training was simply brutal. Françoise cracked her whip more times in those days that in all the others days combined. Her trained was becoming so intense, that some of the stable workers decided to ask her to relax a little and let the horse rest for at least a day or she would kill him from exhaustion. But she simply cracked her whip at him and they never insisted again.

 The day of the race, Byrne and the whip women were really confident that Alex was going to win. They had run tests with him against other horses and he had won every single one of those. So there was no doubt they had a winner in their hands. So it was baffling, to say the least, when Alex stood still and didn’t budge one bit.

 What they didn’t know was that Claire had found out some days earlier about the whole thing and she had visited her pet in secret. Having spent her life with him, enable her to just tell him what he had to do when he heard the gun going off at the racetrack. She claimed her horse back after that and decided not to forgive her father for his behavior. Claire just took Alex and moved him closer to her and away from betrayal.

sábado, 24 de enero de 2015

Her war

  Alicia had just taken the lives of at least ten men. But she didn't care. She had learned not to care much when it came to do what she had to do. The past had taken the lives of many people she had loved, some way or another. Who cared if even more people were killed now? The world wasn’t one to care no more. And she, Alicia Hall, wasn’t one to feel sorry anymore. She just didn’t care.

 The fight had happened just outside of the many quarantine zones. This one encircled the whole city formerly known as Panama City. As many knew, even then, Panama had been a worthy ally to the Statian cause. So much that, during the attempt of the Confederation to take the south part of the continent, they built a parallel city on the other side of the Panama Canal to ensure their troops were properly supported. They had even built a large nuclear energy complex to feed both cities with electricity.

 But no one predicted a surprise attack; done by the Southies (slang termed the Statians used to call the people living on the other side of the canal) but covered up by the Statians, calling it a “failure” of the energy station. There was an explosion and everyone got evacuated. Many people died, though but no one ever knew about any of them. The place was rapidly turned into an exclusion zone for airplanes and the whole city was barricaded and put into quarantine. The people living beyond it were left to their deeds. In other words, they were left to die to the radiation.

 That had happened almost thirty years ago. The world today was very different: the war had ravaged entire regions. Food was hard to come by and countries were not as important as they had been before. The Statians had been reduced to a mountain range and many others had done the same. Technology existed, of course, but had been improved. All innovation had stopped. Anyway, people were more worried about feeding their families than about anything else.

 Alicia herself remembered her parents and brother often. It was true that she cried every night, thinking of them. She would always remember the day she had been taken from her home by a group of Righties. Righties were people that still believed in the superiority of one race or one group of people. They were loads, as people in fear always trust the wrong folk. They ravaged towns, raped women and killed innocent people, thinking they were Vikings of sorts. They also kidnapped women to be sold as sexual slaves and that’s what had happened to Alicia.

 But she had escaped. After an awful trip across the ocean, she had been sold in New Africa, the center of the Statians country. Strangely enough, the city was located by the sea. It was the commercial center of the country. Nevertheless, most of those folk lived inland, scared of invasion. Alicia then became the slave of a renowned politician and lived in his state for two years. Then, a storm broke out and there was fighting between the Statians. She took her chance and escaped the compound, unseen.

 But the day after, when she got up to a high hill, she realized they were following her. So began a journey of many days, even months, chasing through wilderness of all types to escape her captors. Eventually, they let her flee thinking she would die in the wild but Alicia was better than that. She learned to hunt and gather fruits in the forest. The young woman had even found useful things in more deserted cities: clothing, weapons, water bottles and food.

 The food was the best, by far. People everywhere were starving and there she was, having a whole city for herself, where she could pick up anything she wanted to eat. For example, Alicia had never had a spoonful of ice cream. The first time she had some, she laughed like a little girl and ate a whole bucket of it, tasting of vanilla. The stomachache that followed was awful but she thought it wasn’t a high price to pay for such a delicious treat.

 It was in that deserted city when she first killed. A group of men in military clothes walked in the center of the city and she saw them as they dragged two women along. The women looked foreign, like Alicia. She realized they were slaved. Rage ran through her veins and in that moment, she decided to do something bold. Without giving them the chance to say a word, Alicia penetrated their camp at night and killed the four men, with a couple of knives she had grabbed from a department store.

 When she was finished, the women escaped screaming like mad, looking at her as if she had done something horrible. But she knew she was right. All those men, all those people that thought were better just because they were of some color or lived somewhere, all of them, they had to pay. So, in her time in the city, she killed no less than a hundred men. She had trained herself, alone, to use every single weapon she found. Alicia had a small flat on the top of a small building and, in a case where she kept guns, knives, axes, arrows, grenades and other instruments to kill.

 But it was after some time that she realized she had to move on. Someone would get wise and would come to hunt her. And she didn’t want to give none of those people the satisfaction to do so. So, after gathering her things, she did a tour of various stores to replenish her stash of food and ammo, as well as some technology devices. These didn’t really worked well but she needed a GPS in order to know where to run.

 She wanted bad to go back to her country but she knew that was even more dangerous than facing a buck load of army men. She would have to penetrate the Statians territory and then, somehow, board a boat back the other side. No, that was a stupid idea, filled with things that might go wrong. Instead, after looking on a paper map, she decided that her best choice was to go south, through the old border and beyond.

 At the border, precisely, she met friends for the first time. They were indigenous peoples. Alicia had never seen people so beautifully dressed, not after the devastation of the war. But the indigenous women she met told her, in signs that they wanted to preserve what was theirs. War had torn them apart but they trusted that everything would get better. Alicia wasn’t as optimistic but shared a couple of days with them before continuing south.

 It took her months to cross through jungles and devastated cities. It was incredible to see how many people had survived the war, hiding in forests and going back to the lives lived by their ancestors. They were casual hunters and some had even started to grow food again. Many volcanoes made the soil a good friend but many people ran scared when rain came of when the wind blew to strongly. They talked about La Mancha, some sort of explosion that hey had seen and had destroyed, even more than war, the land were they lived.

La Mancha was no other than the horrible stain floating over the nuclear power plant that had being blown up by the Southies. Alicia heard of the story many times, by many people, on her way to the canal. But she noticed something else too: the more she traveled, the more Statians she saw. Some of them were taken as refugees by the locals but others were in occupation of small territories.

 After crossing lake Nicaragua, Alicia was arrested by one of these Statians. The man called himself a general and said they were retaking these territories “in order to protect them, as only us have the intelligence and power to do so”. They had killed several locals and threatened to turn Alice into a slave, again. But this time she knew better. She faked compliance and started giving them all a private show but when she was almost naked, Alicia took a gun from the general and killed him. Everything turned into chaos but the locals and Alicia prevailed.

 In the midst of the fighting, Alicia realized women where also members of the Statian army. They were not many, but they were there. She realized she had no compassion for them either, thinking of how low they had gotten. They were no different than the men. Alicia realized her struggle was not again the Statians alone; it was against every person that wanted others to do as they said.

 After the skirmish, the young fighter crossed more mountains and forest until she got to the exclusion zone. It was there where she killed ten more army men. She went through several papers they were carrying and realized they had been set to check the plant and retrieve something from it. Dead as they were now, they weren’t going to finish nothing and, hopefully, it would take some time before the Statians knew what had happened to them.

 Alicia then reflected on her being there and realized something: she was alive. She inhaled and exhaled several times and then stood still, as if waiting for something to happen. Nothing. Somehow, she could breath. Was that why those men were there? Then, she heard something she had only heard from afar and in television: a helicopter. It appeared just above her, flew a bit further ahead and landed softly. From the machine came out a gorgeous women, tanned and with short black hair. She neared Alicia and she was surprised by her question.

-       Are you all right?

 The young woman nodded. The woman told her to come with her. She took Alicia’s hand and they both walked towards the helicopter. Once inside, the machine started roaring again and rose above the trees and old buildings. Alicia didn’t say a word but saw the woman besides her give her a smile.

-       My name is Rosa. You might refer us as Southies…

 But Alicia was fainting. Unknown to her, one of the soldier’s bullets had gone straight into her right lung. The last thing she saw, before falling asleep, was Rosa pulling out  a needle from a case and yelling at her. But Alicia couldn’t her a word. She was pretty tired and just let herself go.