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viernes, 6 de octubre de 2017

The golden carp

   Fishing had always been the way to live for Lin and his friends. Fro ma very young age, their parents had taught them the best parts on the river and the ocean where they could easily catch a vast array of fish and other living being from the ocean’s floor. They even had a friend named Chen, who lived his life by diving on the ocean and fishing things that many net couldn’t pull away from the sea. When he was lucky enough to find pearls, he would sell them and stop working for a month or so.

 However, the rest of them could never take a day off or anything like that. They had to work every single day for many hours, from dusk till dawn, no matter how tired and bored they sometimes got. The youngest one of them was Sun, who had only started the year before. He had being made to leave school but, after a very vivid argument, his mother had managed to convince the father to let him stay in school. So Sun had to wake up really early to fish for a while with his father and then he would go back at it in the afternoon.

 It was a hard life for such a young person but it wasn’t a unique thing for anyone on that region. They all had to do things that they didn’t really want for themselves. Most young people, for example, had the ambition to travel to big city, any of them, and being able to live the lives they sometimes saw on advertisements or on the television set, when people had one. It was a matter of doing what was needed to be able to reach that moment when they could choose their own path.

 When in his family’s boat, Sun would often try to do his homework but the fishing rods that he put on the edge would always move in the precise moment he was concentrating, on the verge of getting to a point where he would advance in his studies. He was doing poorly on some of his assignments and he really needed to get better soon if he wanted to get ahead in life. He knew the only way to get out of his town would be to learn more than others, to be smarter than any of the people he knew.

 Suddenly, one of the rods moved violently and then it was pulled into the water. It didn’t float for a moment or anything; it just disappeared in the blink of an eye. Sun leaned over the boat and tried to fish for the rod but the only thing he got out of it was a powerful bit from a huge carp that suddenly came out of the water. Normally, a fish bite wouldn’t really hurt but this one left a red mark on Sun’s hand. However, the weirdest thing was to see the carp looking back at him, almost as if it was staring. Then, out of nowhere, the carp spoke with a deep voice.

 He moved his mouth very differently than a human would but it was obvious that it was the one who was speaking. There were no other boats in the vicinity and Sun was too stunned to produce any words. The fish wanted to know where he was, as he had been following a current for some days and now it seemed he had found himself on the opposite side of the current. He apologized to Sun for biting him, but he explained he had been very scared when looking up and watching a hand reach for something.

 A little bit calmer, Sun rubbed his eyes and moved his hair around: he was obviously surprised but also very skeptical that it was actually happening. It seemed much more probable that he had fallen asleep in the boat and the sun on his head had created some kind of illusions or nightmares. It was very uncomfortable for that to happen, because of the response his parents would have if they looked at him sleeping on the boat. Yet again, he wasn’t very close to the beach.

 So Sun decided to play with the moment and just decided to ask the carp more questions, in order to really understand what was happening. Sun asked the fish where he wanted to go. The animal named a bay that he had never heard about. It had to be somewhere very far, so he just told the carp the name of the river that was nearby and the one of the bay they were talking on. The carp then did something even more unexpected than asking: it yelled, very loud, a very harsh curse word.

 The carp told Sun he really needed to go where he wanted because his whole family was reuniting for a very special event. He explained that he was part of a very special kind of carps that turned golden after a certain amount of time. When that happened, they were allowed to join a special school of fishes that could travel the ocean at fast speeds and could also grant wishes to anyone, human or animal, that came across them. It was a special thing that only they could do.

 Sun then interjected. He was very interested by that story because his mother had told him about how his maternal grandmother had come across a golden carp when she was young. Apparently, the fish had healed her from a very powerful disease that was creeping its way through her young body. The wish had made her well, and even better, it had made her a very vivacious woman until her last day. He remembered her from his toddler years and asked the carp if it was possible to know which carp had granted that wish, in order to give his thanks.

 The carp moved his head from side to side. He explained that golden carps never returned to the same place twice, so it was rather difficult to know which carp had granted which wish. Then, it started swimming back and forth. It was obvious he was really upset by the fact he was going to miss the best and most unique event in his life. Sun realized that, illusion or not, he should help the fish just because he had been the cause of him existing. No grandmother would have meant no Sun.

 He proposed the fish to jump on the boat in order to help him get somewhere, anywhere he wanted. Maybe there were other carps nearby that could help him get to the place he wanted to go. The carp was a bit skeptical of the plan but it really wanted to get to the event so he asked Sun to take him to a place where he could talk to many other fish. Maybe in such a hub he would be able to get some information on how to get where he needed to be. Time was of the essence.

 So Sun pulled the rods into the boat, a net filled with only water and then turned on the engine. The carp told him it would follow from underwater. Sun tried to remember the place where his father would fish every single day but then he realized the place would be crowded and all other fishermen would see the talking carp. Sun still believed he was asleep or maybe delusional, but it wasn’t enough to make him do such a stupid thing. They would capture the carp and kill it or maybe sell it because of its abilities.

 He stopped the boat at least three times; changing courses frequently because he remembered people would be there. Maybe even his friends who would taunt him. When the carp swam to the front and asked why he appeared to be so indecisive, Sun realized he wasn’t dreaming at all. He started taking it more seriously, less like a weird dream and more like something that was really important to do. He turned to the carp and was about to say he was sorry about not being able to help but then he remembered Chen.

 He was a good friend and had told him once where he fished for oysters and other animals. Sun turned on the engine again and in a matter of only minutes they were in the spot used by Chen to have his leisurely life. Then, Sun jumped out of the boat and indicated the carp to follow him.

 The carp followed and they found a colony of mollusks on the ocean floor. The carp started communicating with them and Sun went back to his boat. The carp surfaced later on, thanking him for his help. When the carp left, smaller fish appeared out of nowhere and jumped into the boat. Sun’s family was very surprised by his success.

viernes, 28 de abril de 2017

Those voices

   I was awake, of that I’m sure. My eyes were open, I was kind of seating, kind of lying on my back while I had my laptop over my lap. I had turned it on only a few minutes before. So, I’m certain I was awake, there was no other way. As I wrote on the keyboard, I realized I could hear voices. Often, it would be someone talking by the window, on the outside of the building. It happened all the time and it always felt as if those people were inside my room, just chatting about something.

 But this time, the voices didn’t seem to come from outside. Actually, I was very certain that wasn’t the case because the voices coming from below the window always had the same tone, whatever the voice. This time, it felt as if he voices were coming from inside the building. I could hear them increasing their volume, as if they were approaching me but that wasn’t possible. The nearest someone not from my family, being inside the building, had to be several meters away.

 Besides, there were two closed doors and a couple of walls to go through, so the voices shouldn’t have been come so clear. It was as if they were clearing their throats and now the voices were just perfect, clean and powerful. What was worst, the voices weren’t speaking anything in particular, or at least it didn’t seem that way. What was really awful was the fact that they started singing, like a choir. They were all male voices and they were very potent, professional in a way.

 They sang a song with no real words, only loud sounds perfectly executed with their voices. They did it perfectly but that seemed to me even creepier, because if they had made a mistake, I would have known they were just people rehearsing some awful song or something. But no, that didn’t happen. Instead, the voices kept increasing their volume. By the end of their song, I was surprised none of my family members came to my room to ask what was going on.

 Later, much later in the day, I would learn that no one else had heard anything like I had heard. I felt a little bit crazy, because I didn’t think the voices had any supernatural backgrounds. I mean, they were just voices. Yes, they were not behaving very normally, but there was nothing that spectacular or unusual about them, except maybe the unique weirdness of the song. They had to be coming from actual people but I found it hard to believe that voices could be heard so clearly inside my room, when they were apparently coming from inside the building.

 There was the possibility I was mistaken. Maybe the voices did come from outside and I just thought that wasn’t the case. It always happens that the mind chooses a certain way and it seems impossible that the opposite one could be true but that doesn’t mean it isn’t. Maybe some group of men was rehearsing something near my home and the voices were carried in some way that I don’t know how to understand. Maybe it was one of those natural things that are complicated to explain.

 I’m not the kind of person that believes in voices from the grave or something like that. I respect the dead and everything around them, so much so that I prefer not to go to graveyards and funeral homes unless I absolutely have to. It’s not because of fear but because all those rites are normally linked to a religion and I find myself feeling like a hypocrite in the middle of all that. Besides, the people crying and that entire aura that surrounds dead people, it’s really not for me.

 In any case, none of that explains the voices I heard. What was worse, I later remembered that I had been woken up by a sound earlier that day. Maybe three hours before I actually woke up. The sound must have been louder than a whisper or I wouldn’t have heard it. But I did. And then I heard it again. It was a voice. I don’t remember what it said but it was only one person, not a group like it would happen later. I wish I remembered what he said… I fell asleep a few seconds after.

 So I heard voices twice on the same day. The most likely reason for all of this, besides the voices been of a natural source, is that I may be going crazy. This may sound funny or just stupid to many people, but I actually believe I might be going insane. It’s clearly not normal to hear things that aren’t there. And I don’t believe in the paranormal. Besides, ghost speaking in broad daylight with no other backup “occurrences”? Doesn’t seem to be in line with all those things people claim about ghosts.

 Maybe I am going crazy. I have reasons to and it’s certainly not uncommon for a crazy person to hear voices. They all come from their heads, being a certain version of themselves. They are their own inner demons, created by their illness to torture them. Maybe that’s what I have, maybe that explains everything. I don’t want to keep this story going longer because there’s nothing much to say except that I’m very scared for my mental health. Headaches are almost a daily thing and my life is not really going anywhere. Could anyone blame me if I went insane?

 Damn. Here they are again.

viernes, 3 de febrero de 2017

Wild Space

   Above them, the various pieces that made up the space station had caught on fire and were falling at high speed to the ocean in front of the islands. It had been a miracle that the planet had a archipelago in the right place, or their pod would have landed in the middle of the water and they would now be dead. As the biggest pieces collided with the surface of the water, the five survivors of the station looked at the water in horror, as an enormous creature roared, visibly enrage by the fallen projectiles.

 There, above the ground and the sky, their life had been ideal but not perfect. They had everything they could ask for, such as running water, food, information, communications and so on. The program they were involved in was only about civilians in space, so none of them were actual astronauts or scientists. They were all normal people, in the sense that they only had the basic knowledge of how to survive in space. And now, survival skills were the most needed.

 The group started walking downhill, as their pod had crashed against the highest part of a mountain that seemed to be made of something sand-like. Shock wouldn’t have let them move but they noticed the ground shaking below them and the monster in the water became a second problem. In front of the team, Richard was leading them towards the beach, where he thought they could be safer. No one really said anything, they just followed and tried to hear everything around them.

 Richard had been a boy scout as a kid. He had camped in various national parks back home and he had enjoyed it thoroughly except for a traumatic experience that made him retire from the scouts. Their parents never demanded to know why and he concluded it was better like that. Now he was walking under a blazing sun, with four other people he barely knew, even after living together in a space station for a year. That, somehow, had not been enough time to get to know one another.

 When they arrive to the beach, the first to sit down was the only other man, a man called Sebastian. Despite the English sounding name, he was actually Swedish and spoke with a very thick accent. Sebastian was older than Richard and he had been a magazine editor back home. He had become a part of the team as they all had: paying a big sum and basically winning a lottery. He wanted to get out of the Earth fast, as his wife had died only a few years after getting married. He felt so heartbroken that he decided to leave on an impulse and now there he was.

 The three women were called Maria, Kim and Victoria. Maria had only win the lottery. She had won the only seat in the station that was up for grabs without the need to pay anything. She was a janitor back on Earth and had decided to join in order to get away from her family, who she secretly hated. Kim was a famous supermodel, tired of being in the spotlight and Victoria was an architect from Angola, named after the queen that had conquered the African continent.

 The three of them seemed tired but none sat down on the ground. They instead watched the ocean, looking for the creature. At some point, it had disappeared, along with the wreckage from the station. Richard was still trying to understand what had happened but it had all been so fast… They were all sleeping and the alarm started beeping: apparently the ship’s hyper drive had ignited by itself and they were now ramming against a planet. With only minutes to decide, they jumped on the pod and saved their lives.

 As they had no idea how that world worked, they agreed that the best thing was to walk along the edge of the ocean and look for something to eat. Then, they would try to find some sort of cave or safe place to rest. After those two things had been achieved, they could be thinking about the future, if that was a possibility. They walked in silence, watching the strange bushes growing by the beach, hearing the strange squishing sound coming from the greenish water of the ocean.

 Not of them wanted to talk too much. After all, there were originally six people in the space station. A man called Bruno had not come to the pod after hearing the alarm. They never knew what he was doing, if maybe he had been the one to make the hyper drive work. In any case, he was now dead, spread across the skies as the station fell to the ocean. He was a strange man, always hiding something from the rest of them. He seemed much more tormented than all of them put together.

 They stopped when they noticed a small stream coming from inside the island. The water was also green. Kim walked closer but Richard warned her that it might be poisonous or have chemical compounds too different for the human body to process them. But Kim didn’t want to drink the water but to observe it. It behave differently, not like a normal liquid but like some sort of creature. The woman got up fast, shaking. She then looked at the ocean and said what she was thinking aloud: what if the water in that planet was actually alive, moving slowly on its sides?

 As she said that, tentacles branched out of the ocean and launched themselves at the group. Richard and Kim ran first. Maria followed them closely, as did Victoria but Sebastian was way to slow and he got grabbed by the ankles. What happened next made Maria scream and Kim almost faint. Victoria vomited right there, just a few meters away from the water, as they saw the most disgusting spectacle that they had never seen. The universe was a place to be afraid of.

 The water, or whatever it was, had absorbed Sebastian’s body through those tentacles. It was like watching a kid drink out of those juices that come in a bag, only that this bag had been alive just moments prior. He didn’t even had the chance to scream or anything like that. The man just died, obviously, his empty body dumped carried by the tentacles towards the ocean. Apparently, the tentacles fed the creature that had been disturbed by the fallen debris. It appeared again, eating their companion.

 Victoria was trembling wildly and Kim had to be helped by Richard, as her legs didn’t properly work. It was Maria who, her face white of the horror, suggested they looked the opposite shore. They had to verify if water was like that all around. It could be the decisive point between remaining alive in that planet or dying without any possibility. So they walked, in silence, still shaking and wanting to scream. But hey feared potential creature in the bushes, so they kept to themselves.

 The opposite shore was only an hour away, cutting through the island. When they saw it from afar, they noticed right away it was a different kind of ocean. When they got closer, they realized it was normal water, the one they knew from back home. Deciding it couldn’t get more dangerous than a stomachache, they decided to drink some. It wasn’t salted, as ocean water on Earth, rather on the sweet side. They each drank a bit and then sat down on the beach, to rest their trembling bodies.

 It was Victoria who started crying first, then it was Maria and then everyone was crying. In a weird way, that united them more than anything before. They hadn’t really been friends or anything back in the station, just travelling mates,. Now, things had to be a little different.

 They were drying their tears with their hands when a loud noise was heard above them. They looked up in horror to discover an enormous ship just passing above them. It was obviously not man made. It had all sorts of inhuman features. And it hadn’t noticed them… yet.

lunes, 16 de enero de 2017


   After all the hustle of the day, the sidewalk was finally left alone, although not untouched. Lots of glass fragments were scattered all over the place, as well as paper and some pens. Journalists weren’t really careful with their stuff. Like their cameramen, they just dropped things wherever it was convenient for them. And the sidewalk in front of the Oak Tree Hospital was not a place they would respect in any way. They didn’t care if the patients needed silence to sleep, they’d rather had their story.

 And they did that day. After coming day after day, waiting for him to finally kick the bucket, the seventy-four year old man had finally passed away due to complications with the procedure he had gone through. It had been a very challenging adventure to fight where he knew he was already a loser. His mother and then sister before him had died exactly the same way, around the same age. So it wasn’t very surprising at all. That night, his body was sent to the cremator.

 The next day, he was incinerated and his ashes kept on a small jar to be given to the only person that had been with him through the last few hours, his partner Eddy. They had been together in the industry for years and had formed a bond no one could match, especially not in the modern times when friendships and all sorts of relationships seem to be built on something very fragile, that could break at any moment. It wasn’t their case at all, because even then they felt the same towards each other.

 They had never dared to be more than friends. They did agree on having to work together to fight the competition that plagued acting and all other forms of performance. Sydney, the one you had been cremated, had only been sixteen years old the day he arrived in the big city, looking for a chance to shine. Back then, the industry was only beginning. No major studios existed and the craft of cinema was thought to be a thing that would have only a couple of years in this Earth.

 Sydney, however, had always seen the magic in the movies and was sure it was going to become the largest groups of performers and other artists to be known in the world. He began cleaning around and helping people getting coffee or whatever they needed at the moment. The directors took pity of him and let him attend some rehearsals and even some casting sessions. By the time he was an adult in the eyes of the law, he was a very knowledgeable man, with a great deal of respect for acting. That was what got him inside an acting school soon enough.

 He met Eddy in one of his first productions. Eddy was an assistant of the director and Sydney had land a role as the son of the protagonists. It was a big deal to him because he had never acted before. He was so determined to be good, that he did his best with the little lines he had. It worked in its favor, as many others started hiring him for their pictures. It was mostly for the young brother or son parts, but he knew that was a way to climb to where he really wanted to be.

 With Eddy, they shared their love for industry and their yearning for a time where they could be next to the biggest stars in the business. When there wasn’t any work, they would go out together and watch a movie and then walk around or have something to eat while they discussed said movie. They had fun like that and it was during those long and elaborate conversations when they probably noticed, for the first time, what was happening between them. They didn’t acknowledge it, though.

 Sydney’s first big picture came in when he was twenty-five years old. He was offered the role of a young sailor who falls in love with a mermaid. It was one of those beautiful fantasy setting, with the grand costumes and the elaborate production design. The day filming started was the happiest day ever for him, as he had finally reached he point that he wanted in his career. And although the film was not the serious kind of thing he would like to dedicate himself to, it was a great way to begin.

 It was so well received in the theaters by the general audience that he was signed on to reprise the role for two more movies. The studio proposed to him to raise his salary as well as given him many more accommodations and luxuries in exchange for him staying with them for the saga of movies they had planned. He accepted but with fear of never going back to the more serious movies that he had always longed of doing. Maybe, he thought, he could work something out.

 There was the sequel of the mermaid movie, and then the other movie and then the next one. Suddenly, he had already signed on for five more, for a whole series with the character, and nothing had changed, not even the costumes and monsters he fought. It was Eddy who gave him the push he needed to demand more of the studio and of anyone working near or around him. He needed much more creativity if they wanted them to stay. That was how he put his foot down, in the hopes that could actually grow as an actor, instead of getting stuck forever in the same place.

 After all the money he had won for them, the studio was not that reluctant to let him get closer to the creative process. It was a revolution: he was responsible for the firing of the screenwriting and the hiring of a new team of younger, more vivacious men like him. He worked for long weeks with them in order to create a new great story for his audience to love. Meanwhile, he was also eyeing some roles in other movies, more dramatic ones with potent stories and strong characters.

 He signed on to a couple of those but then he realized he didn’t do as well with the dramatic stuff than with fantasy. Critics said that he was a bit too dry during his performances in the big movies he got to make. They didn’t say he was bad or anything, but what they always said only meant that his skills as an actor didn’t really show much during those grand romantic scenes he had tried so hard to do. It was something difficult to hear but he had to accept it, as it was a fact.

 Sydney kept trying, though. With the help of his best friend Eddy, he would often get the kind of role he had dreamt of doing. But he did, he came short of having the reception that Captain Granger had in the theater. The Granger series were a huge hit among young people and their parents love the movies too because of its depiction of a true hero. The new team of writers had done a marvelous job making the character more realistic and daring. He was who kids wanted to be.

 So he kept on doing those movies. He never stopped. During his career, he filmed maybe more than thirty movies as the character of Captain Granger. He made money and fame; people loved him and appreciated him. But they also questioned his life, as Sydney never married. He argued that the lack of time and the commitment to his craft were the ones to blame for him not having a big family. He did make some relations public, to appease the audiences and their thirst for gossip. But they were all lies.

 All along the road, Eddy was there, helping and cheering him on. He was Sydney biggest fan and his best friend in the world. In their older days, they would still sit down and discuss the movies. When Sydney retired, they did it always, almost as a rite they had to go through everyday. And that was their relationship, one were one depended in the other and vice versa, to push him along the long line of life and resist the blows life launched against either of them. They never discussed their relationship further, and it wasn’t necessary because it had obviously been a great success.