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

miércoles, 8 de febrero de 2017

Strange place

   The woods outside the small town of Iris, were a very lonely place almost all year round. Not a soul dared to cross through it to get anymore, no matter if it came from outside or inside the small town. People would rather cross the lake by boat to reach the village or simply take the main road that made a big detour around the woods. After so much time of this prohibition having settled in in the minds of the people, they simply didn’t think about it anymore and saw it as one of those things of nature.

 But it wasn’t exactly nature, which barred everything living from the woods. It was possibly the opposite, something dark and sneaky that didn’t wanted for people to penetrate the place were it lived. No birds crossed over those woods or even built nests on those trees. All animals, from bears to butterflies, avoided that patch of the world as if it was something automatic and not something they could do something about. Nature had nothing to do with that chilling place, not at all.

 On Iris, people loved life. It was such a strange thing for first visitors because one would think that living with a certain fear for so long would be quite a marking experience but it wasn’t at all. Children there loved to play all day long and the adults were kind people that loved to greet new souls to their community. They welcomed strangers as if they were a gift sent by the heavens and would also celebrate for an entire day if a new citizen was born inside the boundaries of Iris.

The festivities there were always something to behold: they put small flags of many colors over every doorway in town and they would sing beautiful old songs all day long, celebrating life. They also cooked the best food, especially fish, when a newborn entered their community. They also cooked some sweets that were specially made according to the tastes of the person being celebrated, meaning it was also done in birthdays, which were always a very grand occasion in town.

 The best part though, was the fact that people seemed to be having the time of their lives every single day. It didn’t matter if they were selling products in the markets, fishing on the lake, running around town or cooking lunch for their family, people in Iris always had a helping hand for everyone and big smile to top that with. All traders loved to visit, as they felt doing business there was more like being on a vacation were everyone is very kind to you. The name was famous in the region and the fact that the woods were so close, was baffling to so many curious people.

 They couldn’t understand how those people in Iris could be so happy. After all, those tall dark trees and that frozen wind had a presence that was not easy to ignore when one would travel through the main road towards Iris. People from the small town had moved the trail further away from the forest, many times during their history, but the woods seemed to catch up every time they did that. So every time a particular part of the road felt colder and simply strange, they rebuilt the road further away from that place.

 That work was normally done in a few days and it was something that needed to be done every year. But even so, the people from Iris that worked on the road weren’t even a bit worried about that. Every year, their town kept being pushed away from the rest of the civilized world. When the road was first created, the journey to the nearest town could be achieved in about 10 hours. With all the changes on the road, Iris was now located 12 hours away from civilization and it kept moving away.

 The route through the lake, by boat, was used my traders mostly. And that road was also altered every few years do to the fact that the dark woods seemed to be conquering the opposite side of the lake, little by little, and people now have to change courses a little bit which also made the trip a little bit longer than before. But people just did what had to be done and they tried not to think too much about it because there was nothing they could do, or at least that was the general opinion.

 A couple of experts in biology and other fields had studied the woods from the outside. Of course, most of these people came from other towns and they would go to Iris at least once to study the forest from there. The problem was that they were the only people not to be welcome in town, asked very politely to leave after spending one night in town. People usually agreed to do it in order for them no to cause any sort of unpleasant mood among the normally chilled population of Iris.

 Not many findings had been done by the very few experts that found the dark woods to be a fascinating anomaly in nature. The fact that no life could be detected there was strange enough, no matter if it was on the trees, the soil, the air or even the water that existed in the form of puddles. But even stranger was the fact that every single person that got too close to the forest, and lived to tell the story, would always tell others about a presence that was strong among those trees. There was something there but no one could really say what it was, if it was something at all.

 Of course, the people of Iris were not very big on any of those stories. The few people from town that had grown any interest in the woods, no matter how fleeting, would be asked to live the village and never come back. That seemed a little bit too hard but the fact remained that Iris was not a town where being curious was rewarded in any way. They lived a quiet peaceful life between a lake, some mountains and the main road; they didn’t really need to ask the world for anything else.

 That of course included the answers that so few had asked for but that no one was apparently willing to give. The only possible way to get a proper answer was to enter the woods themselves but even among people from other parts of the world, that was a crazy idea. All studies qualifies that place as dangerous and unstable, because of the road thing, so why would anyone try to enter to find answers to questions that no one really is begging for? One thing is wondering, the other is demanding an answer.

 Only a handful of people had done that, demand an answer from the forest. And the fact was that none of them remained to tell others why they asked themselves that dreadful question. That is because all of them, a group of ten or less, had walked into the forest and had never returned. When that happened, no one really asked for an explanation or for their bodies to be buried or anything like that. Not even their families wanted to know anything more that what was a fact.

 Those people were part of the mystery of the woods and every time of them had entered the forest, it seemed that year was one of especially big growth for that space as such. Trees seemed to get thicker trunks and the cold air seemed to become even colder. It was a very scary thing to think about and that was probably why people just kept ignoring those facts and the conversation over all. They didn’t want to confront the reality of the situation they faced every day, so they compensate it with joy and optimism, as they didn’t have anything else to go for them.

 In about twenty years, a young woman will realize a very dreadful fact that people in Iris will again accept as one of those things that happen and no one can do anything about it. She will reveal to her people that the road will be cut off because they won’t be able to push it further away from the woods. The trees will grow on the trail and the town of Iris will be cut off from civilization, same from the lakeside. They will be prisoners of the forest. And one day, they will all disappear because of it. And even then, they won’t say a word because that’s they way they are.

sábado, 3 de septiembre de 2016

Phalanx mystery

   Everyone that crossed William’s path was always amused by what he did for a living: he was the marketing manager in a company that sold condoms called Phalanx. He was very popular at parties, telling one and ten stories about the funny things that happened both in his department and in the factory where the condoms where actually made. He even knew some other stories about people that had called the Phalanx hotline in order to ask silly questions that no one ever knew if they were real or false.

 The point was that he had a lot of fun at work and out of it. However, for a person that saw condoms so often at work, he didn’t really get to use a lot. In one of those ironies of life, William had not had a real sexual encounter in a long time. He was a very busy person and he always failed to have time to party or socialize except for the events hosted by Phalanx. The few times he met people was in those parties but they were always funny for a while but not for the long haul.

 Every single Monday at the office, they held pitching sessions in which any of the employees of the company could present new ideas to make the product more attractive. Normally, they would laugh a lot more than do actual work but sometimes, once every six months almost, they got a very clever idea that could easily become a big thing in the world of condoms. Anyhow, it was a very fun thing to be in and most people were very serious about their ideas.

 There was the typical things like making condoms into different sizes or different flavors and colors, but then they were the crazy people telling them to sell condom certain foods in supermarkets, or not only having flavors but also smells, which everyone thought was absolutely awful. They laughed a lot the time that someone proposed to print images on the condoms and even the possibility of personalizing them with your signature. It seemed like a good idea but it wasn’t.

 There were some good ones like having a guy dressed like a penis or condom in some popular area and make him do funny dances and stuff and then handing out pamphlets about how important it was to use condoms. Others had made proposals about the packaging and image that they were really considering. As in any industry, they needed to keep innovating and doing different stuff or they would get obsolete.

 But there was one presenter William remembered for weeks after they moved on. William had always identified as a straight man but somehow that man had captivated him and he had no idea why. It was something more than looks and his idea. It was something he could really pinpoint.

 The man’s idea was very simple: in each one of the condom packaging’s, putting a drawing of a different position in order to kind of make it like a challenge towards the couple that was going to use the prophylactic. Everyone received the proposal to mild enthusiasm and only William seemed to be distracted by the guy that was in front of him. For weeks, he had him inside his head moving around, appearing in the weirdest moments and it was a long time after that, when they were executing some of the ideas people had pitched, when he realized why he thought of him so much: he knew him.

 That day, after all work was done, he went to the archive room and asked fro the file on that man. Apparently, he had been working in the office for as long as William had been there. He was his same age and had gone to the same college too. The difference was that that guy hadn’t been able to ascend in the company whereas William had climbed that ladder a lot faster than anyone else ever before. He was very talented at what he did.

 When he got home that day, he was relieved to realized he didn’t like the guy for his looks or something like that but because he unconsciously knew something weird about him. He couldn’t really remember him from any of the classes in college but apparently something inside his brain did remember him and had been curious to reveal that.

 As tired as he was, William relaxed that day with a bubble bath. He was so tired that he fell asleep inside and only woke up because he was slowly sinking into the water. When he got out of there, he just dried himself up and fell asleep naked as he was on the bed, above the sheets. He must have woken up at four in the morning only to crawl under the covers because of the cold.

 After the weekend, he stumbled into his old college partner in the elevator on the way to his office. It was kind of an awkward moment: there was some tension between them but William had no idea why. He knew now that he wasn’t interested in that guy physically and that was the only thing that had been weird before. But now everything was tension and looking down to their shoes and it was very strange.

 For the rest of that day he didn’t really pay attention to anything else because his mind was still trying to understand what had happened in that elevator. He tried to remember anything about that man but he just couldn’t remember him in college. Maybe crossing him one or twice in the hallways but that was it. He was so distracted during the pitching session that day, that he missed every single one of the funny presentations. His fellow managers would laugh and he would just smile.

 The following day, he was lucky enough to have dinner with a friend from college he had not seen in a while. She had always been one of his best friends back in college and now she worked out of the country in a job that paid very well. So they got together and talked and laughed and drank and ate. It was a very fun evening. When the dessert was brought to them, William remembered the man from his office and instantly asked his friend about him. He described him as well as he could and she was surprised by the degree of detail he was able to give her.

 His friend had no idea of whom he was talking about. Then, William looked for a picture on his cellphone and showed it to her. Crazy as it seemed, William had taken a picture of the file on the guy in order to remember his face the next time he saw him and now he got to show to his friend so he didn’t see how awkward it was.

 Then, she immediately recognized him. Trying not to laugh at her friend for having some random guy’s picture on his cellphone, she reminded him that that guy had been a good friend of the people they used to hang out with during college. He would even go to some parties with them although she didn’t even remember his name. He wasn’t a particularly social person but she knew she had seen him a number of times around there with them.

 William thought about that for a long time. He looked at the guy’s picture that night before going to bed and then spent a good half hour trying to sleep but really thinking about why he had no idea of who that person was. The next day at the office, he got the rumor that many people were being laid off because the company had decided to wipe out a whole section in order to make room for new people that were going to be in charge of social media and such.

 As he went to get coffee, he saw the guy from college with a single box, eyes very red, standing in front of the elevator. He had no idea why, but he walked towards him and asked what was wrong. The guy was obviously surprised to see William but he just answered the question: he had been fired. William offered to help him with the box and in the time from there to the first floor, he was able to remember who that guy was.

 They had kissed once in a party. William had been very drunk. He was sure to have vomited at least a couple of times that night. And somehow, in between all that, they had kissed. He gave the box to the guy and told him to call him if he needed any help. The guy seemed confused by that and honestly William was too. He didn’t know why he had said it but he thought it was the right thing to do.

jueves, 16 de junio de 2016


   The walk couldn’t be too long. They were allowed to reach a big boulder on the top of the hill and then go back almost instantly. There was no way to really enjoy the moment, although no one got out for a walk to enjoy themselves. They did it because it was necessary to walk, to train for longer walks in the future. The funny thing was that the distance had not change in a year so they couldn’t really know if they were able to do more in the suits or not.

 Helena arrived at the Boulder and looked up, to the sun. The veil that covered the sky was especially thick that day, blocking most of the sunlight from arriving to the ground. The sun appeared to be cold, as if it didn’t care of what had happened. And he certainly didn’t because everything that had happened had nothing to do with the sun but with the planet and its inhabitants. They had always been a real danger but no one ever thought something might actually happen.

 The alarm begun. She had enough oxygen to go back to the Hut and couldn’t waist more time looking at the sun or at the reddish sky. She wanted the oxygen tank to be bigger, she had asked that several times. But they couldn’t do it. They had no materials and also no interest in letting anyone wander to far off. The truth was that the government of the Hut was not interested at all in reconquering the surface, only in surviving for a hundred years or more.

 When she stepped into the entrance and the airlock decontaminated the chamber, she felt sad. The world outside was no different than in the books and the images she had on her computer. Yet, there was death and desolation all over the place. As a team of people cleaned her outfit with a variety of chemicals, she wondered if the human race could ever be what it once was.

 As she removed the suit in the next room, Frank came to talk to her. He was the person that controlled every walk outside and had some questions, the same questions they always asked people. It was some kind of an obligatory test for every single person that asked to have a walk. There weren’t many who did, not all wanted to go back and see what their house was like now or what the world looked like. Some had actually moved on.

 She answered the same as always: there was no plant life, no animal life, the concentration of particles had not changed and the deterioration of the different materials was advancing as scheduled. She was obliged to take pictures but this time she hadn’t taken any. She told the man it was because her earlier walk had only been a week ago and nothing had change out there in such a short time.

 Frank wasn’t happy about the pictures. He wasn’t really the boss and he knew someone else would get all over him because of that. But he didn’t insisted. Helena was one of the few people that dared to go outside and walk around, they needed her more that she needed them or at least that was the way he saw it. So he wrote in his report that the camera inside the suit was damaged and that they hadn’t realized before she had stepped out. That way, the questions would be less.

 Helena thanked him and, walking slowly, she went directly to the food court. According to her mother, that wasn’t the term they should use but it was the one promoted by the government. They wanted people to feel they were in a safe and fun environment, even if it was below ground. And “food court” was one of those terms that reminisced something good, or so it seemed, from a long time ago. Everyone ate there although they didn’t have many options, only one.

 As always, the young woman did the line and the cashier scanned the code on her wrist to check that she hadn’t eaten earlier. She received her tray and some minutes later she had hot food and was looking for a place to sit down. Luckily, her friend Patricia was finishing her meal so she sat down with her. Patricia was alone, as it happened very often. Many people thought she was obsessed with the outside.

 During the following twenty minutes, Helena discussed with her friend every single thing she had seen outside. Of course, it was nothing new for the scientific team but it was new to Patricia, who was not allowed to go outside on mental health grounds. She had always wanted to do it but from the first time she asked for permission, it was denied. And after many times trying to apply, they finally told her why they wouldn’t let her out.

 She loved to hear every detail about the outside and Helena knew how much her friend like her tales so she tried to make as entertaining as she could. The tale ended when she arrived at the boulder and looked at the sun. Patricia was smiling and her eyes were full of water. She told Helena she was very lucky to have seen that because the world, as she knew, was very beautiful.

 Helena did not really know if the world was beautiful. In theory, it was. The millions of pictures available to them seemed to tell the story of a bright world were people were happy and lived very complete lives. Yet, those same people had been the ones to destroy it, her parents for example. So she always had problems processing that. Besides, the world outside was dead and no sign of that beauty remained.

 After lunch, both women went through the Market. It was a large and long corridor filled with different stores. Each one of them sold something different, so there was no competition. And the amount of things each store sold was very limited. Yet, most people loved to stroll around to check if they had pulled out something new from their vaults or something. People still had hope that things would change suddenly, even if they hadn’t changed at all for so long.

 But that day, the fifth store on the left was filled with people in front of it trying to look for something the vendor had put in display. It was the store that sold paintings and pictures and such things. Most of the things the man there sold were made by him or his family. But the little image in the transparent urn he had put on display was something another walker, the people that go outside, had found in a recent walk.

 When they were able to get closer, Helena and Patricia realized the image was very small. It was a black and white photography, probably a very old one. It pictured three baby boys, or so it seemed. One of the babies was crying, while the other two held hands and were apparently playing with some cubes with letters. The most intriguing part of the image was a shadow behind the crying baby. It seemed to be the arms of an adult, or maybe the legs.

 They could only see the picture for a while before those who had just arrived pushed them aside to have a look. They talked about the picture all the way to the dormitories, wondering if the shadow behind the babies was really another person or maybe even an animal. It was a very weird picture too: who would take a photo of a crying baby instead of taking a look at what he needed.

 Patricia concluded that it might have been a fake. Maybe the vendor had taken the picture and he said they had found it outside. That was very hard to do, thought Helena, but not impossible. They separated in a corridor, as Helena lived further ahead and Patricia lived one floor below. They committed to see each other the next day and then parted ways. Not a minute had passed when Helena fell to the ground.

 A very large, very powerful earthquake was shaking every single part of the complex. It had been built for that but that didn’t mean people wouldn’t get scared. It was the first one in a long while. Helena could hear screaming behind the doors, where people lived. When it stopped, she stood up fast and ran towards her home. But she never made it there. A general alarm was issued: the compound had been breached.

 No one knew what that meant. Was it toxic gas or something like that? What did they mean with “breach”? Helena wasn’t sure she wanted to find out but, instead of going to check on her mother, she decided to turn around towards the laboratory. She had to know what was going on.

lunes, 14 de marzo de 2016


   And then she found herself in front of a pretty neat table, with various forks and spoon and knives. The room was very bright and she could see the rest of the room was also very well taken care of. However, there was something that made her feel uneasy: she couldn’t move.

 Betty felt she was tied to the chair, arms and legs. She fought with it for a couple of minutes until she felt suddenly freed and fell to the ground. The chair also fell but instead of a loud noise it didn’t almost make a sound. Betty wondered why that was but she decided it was better to know where she was.

 The last thing she remembered before appearing in that strangely perfect room was thinking about her problems paying her tuition at college and paying the rent and paying every single thing she had to pay. She was in a lot of debt and didn’t know for how much time she would have to keep juggling it all. So that room she had suddenly appeared in, had nothing to do what the problems she had. In fact, she had never been there before.

 She realized that, despite the bright light, there didn’t seem to be anyone else there with her. She got near to one of the wall to hear if someone was coming from outside and discovered the wall were hollow, like made from plastic or something like that. That feeling made her nervous so she decided to try and not touch any of the stuff anymore. She put her hands on the back of her body, one hand holding the other and walked around the room to see if she recognized something.

 But there was nothing to recognize. Inside a big cupboard there were many cups for serving tea and coffee and also very cute plates with amazing floral and animal designs. She wanted to take them out and see them closely but remembered she promised herself not to touch anything. She just put her nose against the glass and saw every single little thing. Nothing. Nothing made a memory appear or made any connection to anything she knew.

 She kept looking at the small paintings depicting flowers and landscapes and realized the room was almost prepared for a dinner party of sorts but there was no food or other people there.

 Then, a clicking sound made her flinch for a moment. It had been the room’s door, which she hadn’t seen before, that had suddenly opened. Immediately, she walked towards it and pushed it. Again, there was a feeling that the door was not real, was something like a toy, a fake. She put her hands back to where she had kept them and slowly walked past the doorframe to the next room.

 It was really beautiful but it was then that she realized that something didn’t really make any sense. It was a ballroom, with what seemed like woodcarvings all around. It had been painted in pastel colors as well as some touches of gold and silver and bronze. It was beautiful and, for a moment, Betty forgot that she was scared and imagined that this room would have been were a beautiful princess would have danced with her lover whoever that may have been.

 She wanted to touch the perfect vases apparently made of glass and painted by hand; she wanted to get closer to the many mirrors surrounding the room. But she didn’t. She controlled herself and, instead, decided to just sit on the floor, in the middle of the room, and try to be objective. She really liked the place but Betty knew she didn’t belong there. She had never been in a palace like this. Every single house, mansion or palace with such rooms was many kilometers away from where she lived. How was it that she was suddenly there?

 Betty forced herself to remember. She crossed her legs and closed her eyes and tried to remember every single little thing she could. She had been worrying about money… But, what about it? Did she do something about it? Or was she waiting some kind of help or at least some clue to how to get away from all the problems she had?

 The fact was, she couldn’t remember. And suddenly, a strange thing happened. It was as if she felt compelled to stand up, open her eyes and dance around the room as if she had a big gown and was accompanied by the prince. But Betty didn’t want to dance: she wanted to remember. Yet, there she went, gliding gracefully all around the room, doing nice turns and beautiful gestures with her hands.

 But she didn’t want to, so she started crying and kept on dancing. It was a very awful thing to see, like a doll movie around without any will of her own. And then, in one of those turns, Betty saw that mirrors were very close and then she realized something she hadn’t really seen before: her image in the glass was different. She wasn’t looking her reflection but some deformed face. She screamed and moved away but then she tripped and felt backwards.

 She felt herself fall and fall. Betty didn’t open her eyes until it felt safe. When she finally did, she realized she had somehow arrived to the kitchen. But it wasn’t a modern kitchen like the ones she knew. It was a kitchen made for a house with ballroom full of mirrors and a dining room filled only with tiny cups and utensils no one was ever going to handle. It was scary.

 She stood up and decided to sit down in a small stool near a fireplace that seemed to be on but didn’t produce any heat. Betty suddenly felt very cold and then tried to remember, again, what it was that she was doing before she had arrived to this place. But her memory was blank, as if it had been erased by hand. She even tried remembering something else but she couldn’t. Betty only knew her name and random words and that was it.

 In a sudden move, she touched her throat. She had just realized she wasn’t able to speak. Everything she thought she had said out loud had simply not produced any sound. She had just thought about it. So Betty started crying because she felt miserable and was sure she didn’t belong to this place. After all, people belong to where other people are, right? Why weren’t there any other people around this place? Why was she the only one?

 Like an answer to her question, a door she had not seen by the cupboard had opened and a girl, maybe a bit younger than her, entered. She was wearing a dress that was a little bit more in tune with the room. She walked very slowly but did so towards Betty. When she was close enough, she sat down in another stool and just stayed there. She was very beautiful but sad. Betty wondered if she looked like her.

 Suddenly, she almost fell of the stool. She had heard a voice. She looked one way, then the other. And then towards the girl, who was looking at her with her big eyes. She then understood it was her who talked. Somehow, without moving their lips, they were having a conversation. The first thing Betty asked was if they could walk out of that place. But the other girl didn’t even answer.

 She only said her name was Norma and that she didn’t even remember there was somewhere else to be. She had also appeared there one day and, in time, she had gotten that outfit. She didn’t really moved anymore. It was hard for her to explain but, although she did walked all around the house, it wasn’t her who made her legs move.

 Betty got stuck on the word “house”. For a moment, she was master of her own body again, standing up and running towards a nearby window. But she suddenly tripped and fell hard to the ground. Her feet had stopped responding. She slowly got up and returned to the stool, with no will of her own.

 What is this Norma? Where are we?

But Norma didn’t answer. It was a voice, coming from every single side, which answered: “This house is now your house”.

 Betty begged for all of it to be just a nightmare.