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

jueves, 21 de julio de 2016


   A photographic safari works the same way a normal safari would, except no animals are killed in the process. Instead, people take pictures of the creatures they want to see or they take as many as they can and make it kind of a contest. The one with the most types of animals in pictures could win something especial, whether it comes rom it fellow safari goers, the company that organizes the trip or himself/herself.

 Olive was one such person. She had dreamt for many years to go Africa and do a proper safari with the help of her best camera. She had been an amateur photographer for a long time and was looking forward to test herself with the weather and the creatures in a continent she regarded as wild and beautiful.

 In the plane towards her destination, she started take pictures and documenting her journey in a smaller camera, doing videos she could later edit into bigger ones and then upload them online. The idea was that people could follow her progress over a week and make it something that would not only change her life but also the life of people that may want to know more about where she was going and the reasons she had to do it. She was an animal passionate, a real defender of nature and wanted to take the best pictures to show her respect for the true magnificence of it.

 The first day was full of movement. She didn’t see any animals in Nairobi, as the city was not really a proper place to see wild animals. But she was picked up by a nice man called Arthur and taken to a hotel in the middle of a close by natural park. It was the afternoon and Olive hated herself for having no other option than to choose the flight that made her arrive so late but it was the one she could afford with her salary.

 As she crossed the gates of the small hotel, she took her first picture: it was a couple of giraffes feeding off a very tall tree. The sun was setting so the animas in the pictures could only be identified for their large necks against a beautiful orange sunset in the background. She took several pictures of the same subject; afraid she was not using her camera well.  She even changed the angle and wouldn’t go inside her room until she felt she had gotten it right.

 Arthur told her he had been living in the area for a long time and that some of the animals would not be as easy going as the giraffes. Some of them really did not like to be filmed and photographed. Furthermore, they would have to go out at night in order to take pictures of every single animal if that’s what she wanted. Of course, Olive got worried because she wasn’t experienced in nocturnal photography and she also felt she wasn’t fast enough, taking too much time to achieve a single shot.

 The next day, she posted her best picture of the giraffe series on her blog and had breakfast very early in order for Arthur to take her deeper into the natural park to take more pictures. But they weren’t going to go there alone. Other guests of the hotel also wanted to attend the safari. Most had very professional cameras ready and only a couple only had very basic machines because they did not come to take pictures but to experience the real Africa first hand.

 The first creatures they saw were zebras. Again, Olive took several pictures and realized she was nervous because of the amount of pictures she took of a single specimen. She was clearly worried that she wouldn’t be able to get the perfect shot and she had to let that go in order not only to achieve her goals but to actually have some fun doing the safari. She had to realize they were competing in this one so she could relax and just try to enjoy it for what it was.

 The next animal was a rhino. Arthur said it was very uncommon to encounter one so early in the safari but, apparently, the creature had needed to refresh his body first, before running away from the cameras. It was deep into the mud, barely moving, ignoring them completely or simply thinking that if he didn’t move no one would see him. Olive didn’t like those pictures at all because it was hard to recognize the rhino’s head. She tired to take some more but the jeep moved along.

 They saw a big flock of long legged birds and Arthur also stopped next to a rotting tree in order for his passengers to check it out for insects. There were many beautiful and large ones, having really bright colors and curious shapes. Some of the other women were scared, squeaking like a mouse every time a big insect moved. But Olive was very busy taking pictures to be scared. She managed to get some very interesting angles and was pleased with herself for the first time that day.

 They so more giraffes on the way back to the hotel, as they were going to have a break for lunch. Olive was not interested in eating too much but she did have to attend and stand the silly conversations that broke out between the various people of the tour.

She had always felt very different in large groups. That wasn’t a very large one only about eight people were there, but she knew what she had come for and she didn’t like to make small talk or to pretend she was there to make friends instead of taking pictures and getting better at it. She almost didn’t have a bite and decided to be the first in the jeep for the afternoon ride, getting away from the chatter and the silly laughter.

 Arthur was the first one to walk up to the jeep and he asked her if she was ok. At first, Olive didn’t understand the question. She only instinctively moved her head affirmatively because she didn’t wanted to talk, to busy checking her pictures in her camera. That night, she would recall that moment and feel stupid. It was obvious Arthur was actually concerned about her but she had dismissed him in a second, as she often did when people tried to be nice to her.

 The first creatures of the afternoon were elephants. A rather large group of them was resting under a very big tree, so big it was able to cast a big enough shadow for a group of ten elephants. They looked so peaceful and wise somehow that everyone in the jeep decided not to make a single noise. The engine of the machine was turned off and the tourists were able to stare at the creatures for a long time. They were resting and didn’t care about humans.

 As Olive took pictures, Arthur got close to her and told her in very low register that she could go closer if she wanted, but not too far away from the vehicle. She nodded and immediately jumped off the jeep, landing very hard on her ankles. Olive tried to ignore the pain and got the camera ready to shoot the best pictures yet. A couple of the other tourists stepped down from the jeep too but they didn’t walk too far way from it, just a couple of steps.

 She got as close as she felt was safe and then she started to take more and more pictures. Of the big elephant that was “sitting” on the floor, with a similar expression a king would have on his throne. Also of the three little elephants that were taken care of big the larger ones in the group, probably their mothers. Olive tired to move in silence but she was too excited to do it properly. She couldn’t realize what was happening because of that excitement but the creatures were getting anxious.

 As she was kneeling to take a better group shot, one of the elephants suddenly turned around and charged towards her, as fast as it could. It took her a couple of seconds to realize what was going on and her first thought was not to run towards the jeep. That proved to be a mistake because there was no other place in that savannah to hide from an elephant.

 A gunshot then scared the elephants away, including the one chasing Olive. It had been very close to tackle her with its tusks and crush her with its weight but fortunately Arthur had a rifle in the jeep and was able to shoot at the sky when necessary. Yet, Olive had not gone unpunished from the experience. In the run, she had dropped her camera and it now laid destroyed on the savannah floor, stepped on by an insulted elephant.

 Olive felt she was done. That accident meant she just wasn’t fit to be there, to pretend she was someone she wasn’t.

martes, 9 de febrero de 2016

A hotel story

   When Peter got to the hotel, the first thing he did was taking off his shoes and socks. He massaged his feet for a while after arriving, checking if it was as bad as he had imagined. He had some blisters on his foot, probably because he had used the wrong shoes or the wrong socks or who knows. The point was he couldn’t walk anymore so he decided to shower in order to freshen a little bit and then go to bed.

He decided to sleep naked, as the rest of the body also ached from the long day and he wasn’t planning on doing anything special the next day. He wanted to be comfortable during the night and that was a nice way to be at ease. The weather was nice so he wouldn’t feel cold at night or anything like that. Just five minutes after getting into bed, he was already asleep, dreaming some wild story were he had to run and do many things that he would simply not do in the current state of his poor feet.

 All night long he tossed and turned and pushed his pillows to the ground and pulled up the covers and then down. He couldn’t stop moving and he finally woke up when his body felt the smell of smoke. His senses were not very good but he was certain it smelled as if someone was smoking right there in his room. He looked from one side of the room to the other and couldn’t see were the smell was coming from, if that makes any sense. He came out of bed and suddenly the room’s main door was pushed open by a group of men with flashlights.

 Poor Peter fell backwards and looked like a turtle trying to get back up. He had hurt his back and the men had to help him up and tell him to go out. With a hand on his back, the man obeyed and walked towards the door and it was there he noticed the smoke was everywhere. Maybe he had so many weird dreams because of the smoke and no because of his own head but, yet again, he always had weird dreams.

 He continued walking down the corridor, barely seeing were he was going, until he hit a wall and didn’t know where to go next. He noticed a fire escape sign on a wall and followed it. The firemen had remained behind, probably fighting the source of the smoke, so he had to go down some dark smelly stairs all by himself. He wasn’t thrilled to do it, especially since his feet hurt and he couldn’t walk very fast.

 It was just before descending the last step when he heard the voices of many people and realized he had arrived to the lobby, which was packed with people; probably waiting for the firemen to extinguish whatever fire they were fighting against. It was then when Peter realized he wasn’t wearing any clothes, not even underwear or a t-shirt. Not a towel, not a robe, nothing.

 He decided to remain there, in the darkness of the stairs and just hear the people talk in the lobby. He got very near the door and heard someone saying the fire was in one of the rooms, not very far from his own room. It was probably because of a smoker, said a man in very deep voice. He blamed the hotel for not having a policy against smoking and letting some people just do whatever they wanted. He also reminded his audience, which Peter couldn’t see, that many children had caused a scandal the night before at dinner in the restaurant and that it was rumored an old gentleman had once peed right there on the lobby.

 Peter wanted to laugh because that last story had to be false but the man had said it as if he was talking about some very important matter. Even if he couldn’t see him he was sure he knew who he was, a guy that looked at everyone as if they were a bother to him. He had seen him once during breakfast and he thought it was curious that such a large man could blame others for not respecting boundaries. That thought made him want to laugh but he knew he couldn’t.

 Then, he heard some noise coming from upstairs and decided to hide on one side of the stairs. Thankfully the space was almost completely dark except for the emergency exit signs. Sure enough, about five people were coming down the stairs and a fireman was accompanying them. He assured them everything was going to be fine and that they just had to join the rest of the people in the lobby. They passed very near Peter and opened the door, flooding the space with light for a while. Everyone outside turned to look at the family coming out.

 It was really unpleasant to hear so many people faking worry, as if they all knew those people. They were a mother, a father and three children, probably the same children the fat guy didn’t liked and he was one of the people to ask if they were okay. It just proved how false a person could be. Shortly after, the fireman attracted attention to him and announce the fire source had been found and that they were close to extinguishing it. After they had done that, sleeping bag would be borrowed for people to sleep in the lobby.

 Someone asked who had been the responsible for the fire and all that smoke but the fireman refused to answer that as the most important thing was that everyone was alive and well. They were still going floor by floor checking no one had been left behind. He then asked people to be still and let him count them in order to know if someone was missing from the lobby. After all, they had the list of every single person staying in the hotel and they could easily find out who was missing.

 When he heard that, Peter felt some cold sweat in his forehead. It was obvious they were going to see he wasn’t there and if that fireman had been one of the men that had entered his room, it would seem even stranger. The most obvious thing would have been to come out and just reveal himself naked as he was but he had a better idea: he climbed up the stairs as fast as he could and waited by the door there to check for anyone passing by. When he noticed that the floor was deserted, he came out and started pushing every room door he could.

 That level wasn’t as filled with smoke as the others but people must have been evacuated anyone. The bad thing was that many rooms had blocked automatically but not every one of them. Some had been left open and the system hadn’t closed them back. He entered some rooms and realized many women were at the hotel because he couldn’t find a single clothing piece for a man. He finally decided to put on some pajama pants he found in one room and just come down like that, with nothing else.

 Hoping no one would notice their pants on him, he went back down and opened the door to the lobby to reveal… Well, nothing. No one was there. The place looked even more deserted that the floor he had been in before. He had no idea where so many people had gone so he decided to go around the place to see if he could find someone. They weren’t in any of the two restaurants, or in the kitchens. They weren’t by the reception or by the smokers lounge. Finally, he saw some people running by the building and screaming. He understood right then he had to go out and see what was happening.

 Just as he crossed the doors, a horrible sound flooded the space. He knew he had to run but not why. He followed a fellow runner and just sprinted as fast he could which wasn’t much because of his feet. But he had to make them hurt because his mind knew it wasn’t a time to choose. He ran for at least to blocks until he stopped. Many people were running more but he just couldn’t. His feet were red. He sat on the ground and looked up, realizing why he had been running so much.

 The fire in the hotel had apparently been much more serious than what the fireman had said. A whole floor had sunk and the top part of the building had collapsed into the other and now it looked like one of those futuristic visions of architecture, the top part of the structure not far from collapsing into the street. It was certainly going down but for the moment it stood there, in an odd balance that everyone was fascinated with. He realized many people were looking at the spectacle besides him and that the people of the hotel were just some steps away.

  He walked there slowly, sitting on a bench near them. The fat guy was arguing with some lady, a woman was drunk or high or something, fighting against one of the fireman and a paramedic was curing a child that cried incessantly. Peter felt tired right there. So much he closed his eyes and the last thing he heard was: “I have a pajama just like the one he’s wearing”.

domingo, 18 de enero de 2015


   They had been walking for at least two hours, without taking a break or dropping the rhythm of their movement. They were only four people, all dirty on the faces, their clothes a bit ragged, their shoes all broken. The group kept on walking until they reached a group of large rocks, enough for them to hide from anyone coming from any direction. Inside the rock group there was sort of a clearing and a soft surface. They finally stopped walking, dropping their bodies hard against the rock.

They were two men, both around thirty years old, a woman of the same age and a child about ten years old. They all rested, laying down like starfish on the hard surface. It was late in the afternoon, so the shadow made by the rocks was perfect to avoid being toasted by the sunlight. One the men opened a backpack he had being holding. He extracted a water bottle and took a sip. He gave it to the others, who drank hastily, as if thy knew they wouldn’t have the chance to drink any liquids again

No one spoke, maybe because they wanted to keep their few energies to use them on something more worth it or maybe because there was nothing to be talking about. The truth was both reasons were accurate. What could you say when you’ve seen so many people killed, when you’ve escaped death by nothing more than a few seconds? Nothing, that’s what. The group lay down and didn’t move until it was almost night. It was the two men who got out of the small clearing, into the terrain outside.

It was clear they were in a desert or at least near one. The rocky surface on which they stood was covered, in some parts, by a thin layer of sand and other bright particles. One of the men, the taller one, went to the edge of the rock formation and stared at the horizon: he couldn’t see any light except the first stars appearing on the sky. He sighed in relief as that meant no one had followed them. The reason was of no interest; as long as they were safe the reasons could wait to be known.

The other man, some centimeters shorter, climbed the rocks steadily but making a sort of a grin as he did it. It was clear he was in pain, as with each step he let some air out. When he reached the top of that smooth hill, he was suddenly victim of a cough attack, in part because of what he had seen. He hit his chest a bit to clear his throat as he raises his head and so a never-ending desert past the hill. It wasn’t far at all and seemed to be larger than any ocean that the man had ever seen. This was good and bad, as it was a safe escape route but only because they exchanged a few dangers for other ones.

He turned around and joined the taller man. As he neared him, he realized the other one was crying. He wasn’t bothering to swipe the tears out of his face. He just crouched in the spot and cried in silence, staring at the horizon, which was now pitch black. The shorter one kneeled besides him and hugged him and kissed him on the cheek. Again, they didn’t say a word. This time too it was highly unnecessary to talk as everything they had gone through was beyond any word invented by men.

Some time afterwards, they penetrated the big boulders and found the woman and child sleeping. They looked at each other once and decided to join the others in the floor for a sleep. It took them almost an hour to feel the drowsy and to finally fall asleep. When they woke up the next morning, it seemed to be early still, as a cold wind blew over them. The shorter man stepped out of the boulders and took another look at their surroundings. Then, the first words spoken in that place for many years were heard:


It took them only a couple of seconds to wake up and run out. They all stared at the horizon, were a cloud of dust could be seen, nearing the rocky hill they were standing in. It was clear their pursuers were still after them, restless. The shorter man turned around and walked uphill. They all followed fast. When they reached the top, they had to run down the other side. This had to be careful as many small rocks covered the hill. The woman actually fell and was helped up fast.

Once they reached the sandy bottom of the hill, they started to run, straight to the heart of the desert. It was difficult to run on sand, as it didn’t allow them to progress a lot. Nevertheless, they did it as if their lives depended on it and, actually, that was precisely true. As they ran more and more into the desert, they were all thinking exactly the same: they knew the hunters had no intention of entering that place as they knew people always died in there, never coming out on any side of the gigantic sea of sand.

But that was precisely the advantage they thought they had over the hunters. They were too busy hunting easier targets and chasing someone through a desert was not really worth it if they thought the desert and its lack of everything could kill them faster than they could. So when an hour had passed and the small group was already exhausted, they looked back for a moment: the hunters were at the edge of the desert, on a jeep, and appeared to be thinking what to do. Then, they did something no one thought they would ever do: they got out a missile launcher and pointed in their direction. Now, it was the tall guy who yelled:


And they did but the missile had already been launched. It hit the soft desert surface and blew sand everywhere, forming a small storm in the spot. They were all thrown forward, over some small dunes and hitting the sand hard. The jeep turned around and the hunters left, as the small group began to regroup. The short guy had been spared of any injury but as he ran to the tall one, he realized he had been lucky. The other man lied in the ground, panting. His right arm had been burned, from elbow to shoulder.

The kid was crying, not far. He looked good, not injured besides some scratches. But it was the woman that did not seem very well. She was panting too but wasn’t sitting or standing up. She coughed and the kid screamed. The short guy neared him and realized the woman was very badly injured: one arm and one leg were broken. Her face had been badly burned and, as they look at her, she stopped breathing. The kid had stopped his crying but resumed it once he realized what had happened. The thing here was she wasn’t his mother but had acted like one for many days.

The tall guy had crawled next to them, just as the other one had closed the woman’s eyes. Again, he spoke very softly, as if he didn’t want to disturb the woman’s peace.

We have to bury her beneath the sand. Vultures won’t be long.

And he was right because, as they excavated the sand and put the body in there, several shadows began to circle them from above. When they finished, the birds landed close by, as if they needed to verify if there was a dead body among them. They had covered her in a lot of sand and hoped no storm would uncover the body. They didn’t mind the birds as they started walking through the desert, now slower than before.

When night fell, they sat close from one another and tried to light a fire with a lighter and some paper they had on the backpack but they weren’t successful at all. The cold was awful and only the kid fell asleep fast, surely because he was so tired. The short man decided to clean the other’s wound with a bit of water and told him, whispering to his ear, that he would need to get the burnt skin scraped of to let new skin grow. He agreed and stood up instantly. The kid didn’t felt as they walked away, behind a dune. The short guy moistened the paper he had tried to set on fire and advised the tall guy to bite something. He took of a shoe and put it in his mouth.

The screams could have woken a whole town, or so it seemed. But no one was near to hear it. The kid woke up but didn’t move, deciding to stare at the stars and remembering his family and all that had happened before then. As he heard the disheartening screams, he realized he didn’t remember his mother nor is father or any other relatives. He felt he had been running for years but realized that couldn’t be true. He fell asleep realizing he heard nothing anymore and feeling alone and hopeless.

Behind the dune, the two men were hugging. The arm had been properly scraped and it bled a bit. The man held it high as he had his nose in the other man’s hair. Then, in a raspy and sad voice, he said:

What are we going to do? – He sighed. Tears filling his eyes – I’m tired…

The other one gave him a gentle kiss on the lips and cleaned his eyes of tears.

We’ll keep living. They won’t finish us. We’re not dead yet.

And then they hugged tighter and the pain on the man’s arm wasn’t as strong as the one in his heart and soul.

miércoles, 22 de octubre de 2014

The Crossing

My family was very tired, they couldn't walk any more. We all helped putting up a bit tent beneath a rocky formation, in order to spend the night there. We had walked over twenty kilometres today and that was a lot for some of us.

Grandma was the most tired. Mom had to massage her legs for her to be able to sleep. Dad and I agreed to carry grandma on our backs if it was necessary.

Dad, mom, my sister, her husband and I decided to check the map on our mobile device, as grandma and my niece slept in a corner of the tent. According to the map, we were only a few kilometers from the border that passed over the highest peak. If we passed it, we would be safe, at least for a couple more months.

The war had suddenly erupted and, even if we recognized it or not, it was our fault. Many of us helped that mad man with our votes and now he was the only ruler. Many had been killed and he had decided to cleanse the nation of people he deemed "dangerous".

And that's what we, apparently, were. We didn't even now why but we realized it when the police raided our home and wanted to arrest us. They actually took grandpa and, in part, that was the real pain grandma was suffering. They were my father's parents. My mother's parents had been killed in the first wave of the war, as they lived in another city.

We escaped thanks to my sister's husband, a former member of the military, and now we were all on the run, trying to get to the border over the mountains. We couldn't afford any other way of escape as boats and planes had been forbidden, except for those used by the armed forces.

I turned off my phone fast. We had four phones but used only one at a time in order to preserve the batteries. The communications were cut off but somehow some of the apps still work, such as the map.

We slept on the ground, covering ourselves with a few blankets my sister's husband had stolen from the barracks. They were really warm and cozy blankets and we were all grateful for them. Still, I couldn't get any sleep, thinking of the next day. Without a doubt, it would be a very important day: we would cross the most dangerous part of the mountain and then get to a country that no one knew if it would be welcoming.

I woke everyone up at the first light of the following day. Grandma complained and my little niece was happy as some snow had fallen overnight.

We tore down our tent, we put it on the biggest backpack and started walking. Snow made our ascent mucho more slow than I had imagined. We had to pull out the blankets and cover ourselves with them as our clothes were not made for cold weather.

We didn't stop for lunch: we ate in motion, being very careful with the food as it wasn't necessary to lure animals or anyone to our position.

Sunset arrived and I checked my phone: if we walked fifteen more minutes, we would pass the border. I told everyone and insisted on walking in the dark if it was necessary: we were too close to stop now.

What I didn't expect was for the wind to be so strong and chilly, freezing our faces and bodies to the bone. Grandma fainted and we had to stop. After putting up the tent and putting the elderly woman inside, I checked my phone again. With the last remaining battery power, I could see the border was only 700 hundred meters away. The phone died. When I told the news to the others they seemed relieved and we agreed to wake up early to walk to the border and then down the mountain.

There was apparently a town nearby and that was their goal. We knew many people had fled to the neighboring nation and that it might be problem to get in as such, but that was a problem for tomorrow. Now we felt a bit more at ease and and I even slept a couple of hours before been awoken by a rumble, a horrible sound in the distance.

All the family woke up and, although we did not day, we were scared. We packed up again and started walking. The wind had calmed down and the sky seemed cloudless.

After some minutes, we finally arrived at the top, to the border. My mom gave me her phone so I could locate the town. As it was very early still and the sky wasn't properly lit, we may have seen the town from there.

A horrible sound again. But now it was a rumble but something like an engine... an airplane. We all stared at the sky and saw the shadow of a large aircraft. The first light of the day let us see what was happening: in the valley below was the town we were looking for. And the airplane was heading there but not with refugees or food. They were bombing.

We hadn't seen lights because it had been cut off. From our vantage point, we could see at least five more planes descending into the valley and drop dozens maybe hundreds of bombs. The city was on fire.

From our tiny spot in the mountain we were witnesses of an invasion, the first of many. Our future was now even bleaker.