#FridayFlash – Carrefour part 1 (mini-series)

The old man had watched his grandson play in the dirt for hours. They had come to the crossroads at dawn and the sun stood high above the world, beaming down with merciless heat. The crossroads offered no shade where you could hide from the cruel gaze of the sun. Large beads of sweat rolled slowly down the old man’s forehead and cheeks, the child didn’t seem to mind the heat.

Crows flew across the blue sky like black clouds, cawing ominously. They were taunting the old man, challenging him to stay awake, to stay sane. The man’s eye lids were heavy with sleep. He was very old and they had walked a long way through the night, his bones felt brittle and hunger was in his belly. He had only brought an apple which he had split in half with his pocketknife. The child had eaten his half of the apple hungrily, like a dog, the old man thought. Himself he had savored the taste, eating the ripe fruit in thin slices until nothing but the core remained. He had eaten that as well, seeds crunching like ancient bones between his yellowed teeth.

Time slowed down and transformed into a thick black tar in the heat. The sun hadn’t moved in a long while now. The old man closed his eyes for a moment and felt the kick of sudden sleep and opened them again. A man older than himself stood in front of him. He was leaning on a crutch made from sugarcane and on his head he wore a wide straw hat to protect him from the sun. Other than the newcomer wore only ragged trousers held up by twine. He wore no shoes and no shirt. His black skin glistened in the sun and his belly was swollen.

He nodded towards the old man, “He comes soon,” he said with a voice dry as the desert.

“When?” The old man croaked. He hadn’t had a drink since they had left home during the night and his throat was swollen and dry. The apple had done little to wet it.

The man standing before him uncorked a small water pouch and drank from it, richly. He offered nothing to the old man sitting at the crossroads. “Be patient, Carrefour, soon,” the man repeated.

“I will wait then.”

“Yes you will, child” the man on the crouch said and started to walk south support his frail body on the sugarcane.

“Thank you, Papa Legba,” the old man tried to yell after him but his voice failed him and all that came out was a hoarse whisper.

The child was still playing in the middle of the crossroads, he had noticed nothing. Children are so busy with their own fantasies they have no time and forget the world around them. The old man envied the child.

To be continued…

© Hugo Oddlane, 2014

Advertisements

#TuesdaySerial – No Longer Alive, p4

Gunshots.

Time had vanished. It had rolled out through the open balcony door like a slow sluggish tar. Instead a heavy heat had settled in the apartment. Amy sat next to her father. She was staring at the news, trying to comprehend the images. It had only been a minute since she woke from her comforting nap and a low voice in the back of her head tried to convince her that she was still sleeping.

“It can’t be real,” Jack said, breaking the silence. His voice came out real calm, almost like he believed himself.

Amy heard that her father spoke, but didn’t take in the words. She replied, more out of habit than anything else. “They are all dead,” she said, “All of them,” when she said that she wasn’t thinking of the lifeless bodies lying in the city streets. “Look at them dad, they are all…” the last word stuck in her throat like an uncomfortable fish bone, stabbing painfully, insistently.

“Yeah,” Jack nodded, “and they are killing everyone.”

Silent tears streamed down Amy’s cheeks.

“I didn’t wake you,” Jack continued, “I thought it was just rioting or something. I didn’t see. I was rationalizing.” This last word he said without any conviction. Maybe there was a hissing voice deep down in her dad’s head telling him that he had fallen asleep on the couch next to her, Amy thought, she felt dazed.

A sudden noise broke the numb moment. It was coming down on them like a storm, demanding their absolute attention. The TV’s spell was broken, replaced by a new fear. Jack turned his head towards the hallway, expecting a horde of those stumbling and awful creatures come crashing through the apartment door. The sound grew in strength but nothing broke through the door. The sound kept growing, and growing until it was right above them.

“Outside,” Amy almost had to shout, she pointed towards the open balcony.

Jack got up from the couch and took a few quick steps to the balcony. In the same moment a formation of black helicopters swooped into view. He quickly counted seven identical helicopters, no numbers or logos on them. Some kind of military black ops he thought, he had seen one just like them once, while doing a stint in Iraq for Doctors Without Borders. Maybe they were here to resolve the situation.

Amy came out on the balcony, “They are flying so low” she said. Jack had trouble hearing her over the roaring noise. The helicopters flew low and fast and the noise faded out quickly as they flew out over the city and split formation. Three helicopters held a straight course for the centre of the city with the two on each side breaking off in opposite directions, then they vanished into the dark night, the only evidence of their passing was the low humming of the propellers spinning angrily.

“Who were they?” Amy asked. They were both startled by the volume of her voice now that the noise was gone.

“I think they were military, I’ve seen helicopters like them before. They send their best guys in those,” Jack replied, “They’ll soon get things under control,” he tried to sound reassuringly but didn’t do a very good job of it. Amy bit her lip nervously, a habit her mom had possessed and Amy had picked up when her mother had passed away. Jack took his daughter in his arms and held her, “Everything is going to be alright,” he said, and now, holding Amy he could almost believe it.

“It has to be” Amy replied.

The night had gone silent again. The only thing breaking it was two sharp gunshots from the apartment above.

To be continued…

© Hugo Oddlane, 2014

List of episodes for No Longer Alive: http://wp.me/P4cKL8-l

#TuesdaySerial – No Longer Alive, p3

Amy Wakes.

Part of Jack wanted to turn his head and look out the apartment windows towards the memorial park, but the other much larger part refused. He wasn’t entirely sure that he even could. The fear was too potent, holding his spine in a cold and lifeless grip. The images rolled on and the woman behind the news desk moved her silent mouth in a frantic pace. He wanted to turn the sound back on but was afraid of what she was saying. She looked like Jack felt, absolutely horrified.

Suddenly, something next to Jack moved, he startled and groaned loudly. Ripped from his frozen state he turned his head to see what it was, leaning backwards to shield himself from a sudden attack. He imagined a thousand different and dangerous things that would jump at his face and bite as he switched his gaze to look upon the dark monster that would be his death. His eyes adjusted to the gloom and Jack saw his daughter. She was still sleeping on the couch next to him. A lot of the fear faded away as he looked at her, sleeping soundly on the couch she was a bright sunbeam cutting through thick and ominous rain clouds. Jack felt the fear drain away almost like a physical feeling and that was a good thing, but it wasn’t replaced with safe feelings, but a soft and imposing sense of worry.

Jack turned back to the TV and turned on the sound. He had to know what was going no matter how much it scared him. If it was something really serious that could affect his daughter’s safety he had to know. The city might impose martial law or something to combat such disgusting and terrible violence. It was so widespread and so close. He had to deal with it, for Amy.

The TV blared into life. It was way too loud. Jack hurried to lower the volume but it was too late, the damage was done. Next to him Amy stretched, opened her eyes groggily and gave her father a confused look.

“God I’m tired,” she said with a yawn. Amy pushed herself up into a sitting position, “What time is it?”

Jack didn’t reply. In fact, he didn’t even hear his daughter. The things the news lady was saying were just too surreal and it took Jack everything he had to comprehend what she was trying to tell her viewers.

“Dad?” Amy asked, “What’s going on?” She prodded her father’s arm.

“Uh?” Jack tilted his face slightly towards Amy, only for a second did his eyes leave the TV screen to meet his daughters. “I was just…” His words trailed of as he jabbed dozily towards the TV with the remote.

Her dad was acting very strange. A thick worried feeling was rising up inside of her. A chill ran down her spine, she felt the creeps in a major way. Some of Jacks fear had unhitched from him and was now sinking its deep dark hooks into Amy. She didn’t understand why she felt like this, she had never felt anything like it. A single thought entered her mind, something truly horrible was about to happen.

To be continued…

© Hugo Oddlane, 2014

List of episodes for No Longer Alive: http://wp.me/P4cKL8-l

#FridayFlash – The Room and the Box

The walls were closing in. Rick could barely stand it. Time was lost to him, the monotonous red wallpaper kept it at bay. Rick had forgotten his wristwatch, very uncharacteristic, and the first thing he had done entering the room had been to look for a clock. There was none. In fact, the room was almost completely naked. An old rickety table stood in the centre of the room, and behind it a rickety old chair. So he had sat down, placed the box and his gun on the table and lost time.

   Rick knew that he had dozed off, more than once. He wasn’t worried about that, the door had squealed loudly when he had closed it behind him, and it would squeal when someone opened it, plenty of time to wake up and regain composure.

   He thought about opening the box but hadn’t, so far. As his mind slipped away from him it was harder to keep up being a professional. If someone didn’t come to collect the box soon he would open it. And after that, only god knew what would happen. Rick wished that they had put a lock on the box. As it were, they hadn’t, and the only thing standing between Rick and whatever was in the box was a small hook latch. He ran his fingers over the hook latch, the rough texture of iron burned. His senses were jacked up with fatigue and tangled nerves. He tried the gun, ran his fingers over the familiar shape and the steel was ice-cold. He put his hands in his pockets and they were too confining. Somebody had to come soon.

   That cursed wooden box, in this cursed room, where time was stretched out until you could see right through it. Rick put his palms on the box and the surface was oily and cool to his touch, inviting. He would open it soon, he didn’t care what happened.

   Suddenly he heard heavy boots walking up the creaking stairs. Rick looked up at the door. His eyes wide like those of small children on Christmas, so goddamn much anticipation. The footfalls grew louder. The boots came closer, closer, closer. Someone was right outside. Then the footsteps started to diminish until they vanished. Silence settled again. Rick couldn’t believe it. He just couldn’t fucking believe it. He grabbed the lid of the box carefully with the tips of his fingers, why not open the box, he had earned it, sitting in this dead room, waiting for no one to show up.

   He took a deep breath and steeled himself, unhooked the latch… There was a sudden and loud knock on the door.

© Hugo Oddlane, 2014

#TuesdaySerial – No Longer Alive, p2

The News.

At the end of the movie all of the actors were smiling, looking generally satisfied and the villain had been carted off in a cop car. Jack deduced that it must have been a happy ending. He reached for the remote, turned off the DVD-player and started flipping through the channels. He had almost given up hope of finding something interesting when he finally reached a channel that showed the news. The images were violent and gruesome. Jack grimaced in disgust. He didn’t get it. The act of using violence against another person was both horrifying and childish to him. And this kind of gang violence was really getting out of hand.

   Jack felt both sad and blessed as he watched the violence on the news unfold, sad because so many people had been left behind by society, and blessed because he could provide a safe and stable home for his daughter, far away from the violent suburbs he himself had grown up in. Both of his parents had been cops, working in the same neighborhood they lived in. It had been fine for the most part. They were fair cops and well-respected, but they lived by the code that the only way to beat violence was with violence, an eye for an eye, all the way to the bottom.

   Jack hadn’t agreed with his parents. He refused the idea of violence as a force of good. So he had bunkered down and sweated through school, all the way to an internship at a fairly good hospital. He had been a doctor for a good long time now. Saved more lives than he had lost, so that was good. His parents lived outside the city now, in a house he had bought them when they retired. They always told him how proud they were, but in his heart, Jack knew that they would much rather he’d been a cop like them, fighting fire with fire, and not become some soft-hearted doctor without grit or guts.

   His dad had taught him to shoot as a kid. Jack had been dragged out to the range once a week until he had turned eighteen and his father told Jack that he was a man now and could make his own decisions. In that same moment Jack decided to never fire a gun again.

   The news flipped through a couple of clips, all with violent and gruesome images. Jack felt his stomach turn and try to somersault. He had never seen anything quite like this on the news. It reminded him of bad horror movies, the kind he had liked as a kid. The images were raw and uncensored. Fear rolled over him like a cold black wave, he recognized the scenes. It was here in the city, every one of the clip the news rolled through where from different parts of the city. The scene switched again, Jack put his hand to his mouth and gasped, this one wasn’t far away, down the block by the memorial park, and he could almost see it from his window if he wanted to. He didn’t. Four bright red letters burned on the screen, ‘LIVE’.

To be continued.

© Hugo Oddlane, 2014

List of episodes for No Longer Alive: http://wp.me/P4cKL8-l

#FridayFlash – The Patient Man

Tonight he was going to kill a man. He drew a last hard breath on his cigarette and flicked it, casually, to the sidewalk. The night air was cool on his face. It coiled around him in a slow breeze. Above the tall buildings clouds darker than the night sky were gathering, muttering ominously, looked a lot like rain was coming. He didn’t mind, the only thing better than the cool wind blowing through the city was a good hard rain to wash the streets clean.

   He stood, leaning towards a red brick wall, just outside of the yellow spotlight from the street lights, watching the building across the street. Lights were lit on the second floor and in a dark night like this a lit window was just as entertaining as the films they showed at the drive-in. He had seen this particular movie before. Over the past weeks he had spent many moments standing right where he was standing right now. Watching and learning. Gangsters were men of habit, and the one he was watching right now was no different.

   The hooligan would scream at his girl for an hour or so, actually until he was red in the face and his throat was soar. At this point she would break down in tears and lock herself inside the bedroom. Sometimes she would sit at the window, sobbing, looking at the dark city streets with longing eyes. She was a beautiful girl. Tonight he couldn’t see her. He assumed that the nights she didn’t spend at the window were spent in bed.

   The gangster was combing his hair in the lime tile bathroom. He could see the hoodlum’s reflection in the mirror. The goon had his best suit on. It certainly was his favorite, he wore it a lot. It was a dark pinstripe suit. Soon he would be done combing every stand of greasy hair to perfection and jam a ghastly white hat on his head, which probably made him think he looked like Al Capone, but only made him look like a man that wanted to look like Al Capone.

   Lost in the moment of watching the scenes unfold in the lit apartment he hadn’t noticed the rain. Big drops of cleansing water landed on the street in great splashes. He pulled up his coat collar and walked away, following the ant trail of street lights that shone up his righteous path in the lonesome night. He knew where the gangster was going. No need to stand around on the street in the rain. It would look suspicious. Besides, gunning the lawbreaker down in the street wasn’t what he wanted. He needed to make a point. It had to be public. He had to show the low men in pinstripe suits that they weren’t safe anywhere. Not even if the cops and city officials had been bought of proper. He would get them a belly full of lead. It was the western way, the way of his forefathers who had come here looking for opportunity, but found that it had turned to corruption. So he walked through the city with determined steps.

   The bar was a bleak affair. Grey walls caked over with cheap burgundy wallpaper and a dirty floor hidden under second rate carpets. The yellow lights had been dimmed down to hide the cracks, but it gave the patrons a sickly look. Their teeth looked yellow and beads of sweat clung to their skin like flies. No one cared as long as the booze flowed freely. He hated places like this. It was sickness.

   He pushed his way through the rowdy crowd to the far end of the bar and sat down with the door to the bathroom right behind him. From here he could see the small basement door that served as an entrance to this horrible hole in the ground. The other advantage was that the bathroom was right behind him, and the bathroom was the key to getting out alive. In one of the stalls there was a narrow window that led into the dark, unlit alley outside. He had visited the day before to make sure that he would fit through. He did, barely.

   Sipping greasy coffee from a greasy cup he watched the crowd. There were a lot of big hitters here. Men he’d seen in papers, their mug shots displayed mockingly as justice failed to be served. He didn’t care about any of them, not tonight. The goon he hunted tonight was a rabid dog, a violent and savage beast, barely a man. And when it had gone this far there was only one course of action left to take. A dog sick like that had to be put down.

   As he waited he slipped his hand into his pocket and ran the tips of his fingers over the cold steel surface of his police badge and felt that it didn’t mean much anymore. The comforting bulge under his arm that was his heavy revolver meant so much more in this day and age. When the law went silent, the gun spoke.

   Time dragged on and he felt his nerves tangle into a right good bunch. He waited until he was sure something was wrong, the hoodlum wouldn’t show tonight. Right at that moment the small basement door swung open, he could hear the creak of the hinges rip right through the crowd, could almost taste it. The man who wanted to look like Al Capone walked down the narrow stairs, slowly.

© Hugo Oddlane, 2014

No Longer Alive – Part 1

The Last Dad-Day.

The blue light from the TV lit up the room in a series of soft and silent explosions. Jack had muted the movie when Amy had fallen asleep. She lay curled into a small and fragile ball of young teenage heartache at the end of the couch. She was fifteen years old and had been unaware of the dangers of love. A lesson she had learned today, and painfully, as her boyfriend had dumped her for one of Amy’s classmates. In Amy’s mind that boy had been the one. The first serious love, as she called it, and the only one. How could she ever love again? She had cried into her father’s ear earlier today as he had comforted. Jack had smiled and hugged his daughter, replying that of course she would, in time.

   They had promptly had a dad-day, which was what Jack called those deeply mysterious days that out-of-the-blue Amy wanted to spend doing everything with her dad. He usually never understood what brought these days on but today he did. And he was glad to spend it with his daughter. Seeing her coping with her first heartache reminded him of his. A young girl named Sarah. Jack didn’t remember her much anymore, just her long dark hair smelling softly of spring flowers. Funny the things that linger in our precarious memory banks, usually the brain is such a neat and effective machine, but with memories it seems so random. It’s like a wind blowing through your mind and only bits and pieces manage to hold on and stay behind. Most of Jacks old girlfriends had faded away with that wind when he had met Amy’s mother. Since her death four years ago he hadn’t even entertained the thought of finding another. The memory of her stood strong, her memory unvarnished by the savage storm that is time. His love for her still grew.

   Amy had so much of her mother in her and it made Jack glad. People said that Amy was so much like her father, but it was in the details that Jack found Amy’s mother, and in the quirky manners. They spoke in the same way, moved in the same way. He was both glad and saddened over the pangs of pain that came over him as he watched his daughter grow up and wishing that her mom could have been here to see Amy become a fine young woman, intelligent and beautiful. There was going to be lots of boys in Amy’s life if she wanted it to. She was going to be alright.

   Meanwhile the silent movie still sent out soft blue pulses into the living room trying to shake Jack from his thoughts and draw him into the story. They had been watching some corny comedy about love, Amy had insisted despite Jacks best efforts to persuade her to go for an action movie in the name of forgetting about love for a moment, and the images on the TV didn’t make any sense without the audio. Still jack sat there watching with his daughter sleeping beside him on the couch. He really didn’t want the dad-day to end. But it would, like all of them do. She would be alright thou. Time heals.

   Jack didn’t know then, but this was the last dad-day in a good long while. He did right in treasuring this silent blue moment, for as he sat there watching the ending of a corny love comedy the dead woke sluggishly from their shallow slumber. And they were inevitable. Like a dark and consuming plague they rose. But right at that moment Jack didn’t know. Life was still good.

To be continued.

© Hugo Oddlane, 2014

List of episodes for No Longer Alive: http://wp.me/P4cKL8-l