TECHNICOLOUR

 

It had been a week since the riots had stopped. However, she still heard strange sounds. Sounds of glass breaking, of car alarms, of honking horns, of anarchy, and of carnage. In their climax, the sounds she heard were mostly in her head—Resilient remnants of terrible times. However, more often than not, the sounds were very real.

In the aftermath of the riots, the remaining survivors had taken to the streets. They were jumpy, cautious people in search of food, ammunitions and other survival gear. The worst had passed, yet their hurriedness remained as a monument to their fear.

Alternatively, there were people fully resigned to the reality of their situation, spending their time breaking into jewelry stores. The decaying bodies of angry rioters and unlucky police officers were the silent witnesses to their meaningless crimes. In this new world, a diamond was little more than a shiny rock.
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The thought of going outside still terrified her. In her fear, she sought to drown herself in isolation. This was an exercise in futility, as the sound of break-ins always kept her acutely aware of human presence.

Thus, she tried another type of therapy. She cleared out all objects from what used to be her bedroom, until it was nothing but a space enclosed by four walls. After this, she sat cross-legged in the center of her room. It was her intention that, with a muted room and a muted mind, there would be no anchor for her bad thoughts to hold onto, and her anxiety and paranoia would fade away in the overwhelming nothingness.

Unfortunately for her, things did not go according to plan. And this was very much her fault, for she had desperately purged from her subconscious a vital factor needed in her calculations. At nightfall, the object she called “a demonic halo” proceeded to cast the room in a bluish hue, and her space was void no more.

Before things had really escalated, people had taken to calling the objects that floated above their heads as “tags”. Insofar as the form of the objects was concerned, “Tag” was a very suitable epithet. The objects were holographic, rectangular and seemingly fixed. Placards floating above each person’s head. Each of them a different color, each of them denoting a different number.

There in the silence, the bluish glow of her tag brought to her mind an image of a scene that took place days earlier. An image of a man bleeding out on the floor while she hid just a few feet away. And before she knew it, against her will, she began to relive, in its full totality, the chaos.

As the night progressed, the PTSD did its worst. That night she lost consciousness in cold sweat and with trembling hands.

…………………………………….

Hours later she was faced with the same conundrum as before. The sun was setting, and with its slow descent upon the horizon came the promise of another episode. Typically, her choice had been to suffer through the night. However, this time, she was leaning towards taking a different decision. This had a lot to do with the fact that her agony had now surpassed her fear.

Naturally, the part of her that had lived through the riots still wanted to remain within the safety of her apartment, but it was dusk, and she wanted to get ahead while it was still light out.
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She tried to make as little noise as she could when opening the door, however, due to rusty hinges and deathly silence, her endeavor must have been announced to all the inhabitants of her building, if any remained.

She hesitated after opening the door. Waiting for a sound, for a reaction, for an indication of danger, for the signal to rush back into her room, for the safety of living under circumstances beyond her control, for the safety of her decisions being taken for her.

But no warning came and she was simultaneously disappointed and relieved. In her disappointment, in her relief, her conviction hardened and she began her descent down the stairs.

……………………………….

She stood in front of her building now. It was cold, as she expected, and she tightened her jacket. The street was empty. She estimated that seven out of every ten people must have died in the days before. But three out of ten was still good odds, and she was bound to run into someone sooner or later. She reached into her pocket. The cold touch of the steel of her knife reassured her. Then she began to walk down the street.

………………………………..

A few blocks from her starting point, she reached a newspaper stand. Before the halos appeared, back when things were still normal, she used to pass by this same spot after work, to grab her favourite fashion magazines. She would always give in, against her better judgment, to tabloid celebrity news rather than fitness magazines. She had even developed an acquaintance with the stand’s owner. A middle-aged man named Stanley who had a fetish for Asian porn magazines. Judging by the state of things, he had been caught up in the Helter Skelter days earlier. She didn’t want to think of Stan’s fate. In spite of herself, she began to wonder if he had been trodden by the crowd, knocked down by a car, or shot in the head. The thought of his brains leaking out on a street somewhere made her want to puke.

She reached into the stall and took out a newspaper. One of the last that had been published before everyone lost their minds. The cover story read:

DO YOU THINK YOU MIGHT BE A PIECE OF SHIT?
WORRY NO MORE!
FEBRUARY 20th, 2017.
Ever since the mysterious rectangles appeared over everyone’s heads the whole nation has been going crazy!!! Stocks crashed overnight, unemployment skyrocketed and divorce lawyers just can’t get their phones to stop ringing. The holographic placards seem to follow you wherever you go. If that isn’t disturbing enough, think about the numbers they denote. Numbers which most people are convinced represents value. The best scientific minds are at a loss to an explanation. The Minister of Defence is convinced it’s some kind of terrorist attack and has been locked in a meeting with her advisors since the appearance of the placards. The President is yet to give a public address.

One of the world’s smartest economists and a supporting member of SETI, Dr.Mau Koch, has been seen on TV expressing a professional opinion that the number on a person’s placard is actually the value of the person’s life! Don’t be so quick to denounce the claims though, because thought they may not admit it, people have been reacting to the placards in surprising ways. Some people were denied entry into a club because their numbers were too low. Green energy company, SunFlower, saw their stocks fall after rumours surfaced that their CEO had a two digit number on his tag. Rachel Royce and Michael Sputner, celebrity power couple, have filed for divorce. Insiders suggest that this is due to a large difference between their individual numbers. People are starting to get agitated and people are starting to get scared. Police Reports reveal that some minor “incidents” have also taken place, though no loss of life has been reported yet.

An informant has informed as of impending Martial Law! Stay indoors people and stay safe!
-Richard Shultz

After reading the poorly written article, her mind flashed back to the first appearance of the halos. She had been visiting her parents in the countryside that weekend. That afternoon, she sat in the porch reading, while her next-door neighbors organized a barbecue. The fragrance of flowers in the nearby garden and the odour of burning pork combined beautifully to produce a smell that excited her. A smell which she gobbled up in deep, strong breaths.

That Sunday had been tranquil. Maybe even halcyon. But in retrospect of all the horrible things that proceeded, that day had been nothing but a portent of destruction. Like the soft, cold sea breeze that brings to sailors the scent of salt and memories of home, only to turn out to be the first gale of a coming storm.

She had given in to drowsiness and was descending softly into sleep. To her dismay, her peace was disturbed by voices from the house next door. Voices which were rising in volume. Freaking neanderthals, she thought. She had just decided to ignore them when she heard her sister scream. A sound which jolted her into full awareness.

Later that day, what was supposed to be a special family dinner had degenerated into a heated debate. Of course her father, the family know-it-all, was in full swing. His protracted speech made little sense. As though it was more an attempt to explore the full range of his vocabulary than to provide illumination. He was so raucous, mannerless and totally oblivious to the fact that he was showering everybody in spit. A piece of chicken dangled from his beard. She had always thought him so unevolved. He disgusted her.

“What’s the matter sweetie?” her mother asked. “You haven’t said a word.”

“Nothing Ma, just tired.”

“It’s the government I tell ya! Spying on its own citizens like we’re tadpoles in a fishbowl!” her father went on. Her mother, sister and brother, his awed spectators.

She was tired. Tired of arguing. Of noise. She had hoped this weekend would rejuvenate her after her hectic week at the firm. Yet, trouble had found her yet again.

“It’s nothing Dad,” she barked. “It’s probably some kid’s retarded science project. Geeze! Can’t you shut up just once?”

He looked at her, as if he had just noticed she had been standing there.

Perhaps she should have felt guilty. But all she felt was the satisfaction of having gotten her way.

She might have been foolish. Foolish in not showing more concern. It wasn’t exactly her fault. Her fatigue kept her from giving thoughtful consideration to which she had decided was merely a passing headache. That night, sleep did not come to her easily. The blue glow was already having an effect on her psyche.

The next morning, she said her goodbyes as she prepared to leave. Her father did not take notice of her impending departure. His eyes were glued to the television screen. Frankly, she was surprised he hadn’t wrapped his head in tin foil yet. He was watching the channel five news.

“The Government have released a report saying that the holograms are merely part of a population census. All should remain calm.”

Later, as she was being driven to her house, she wondered if she should have kissed him goodbye. She didn’t dwell on the matter though, as she was soon pondering what she had heard on the news. A population census? This is merely an invasion of privacy. I feel….violated.

To distract herself, she began to read her e-mails.

Moments later, the driver of the truck in front of her car saw a red tag and mistook it as a traffic signal. Her driver, in order to avoid the halted truck, turned sharply to the right. Though he avoided the vehicle, her car turned up on the opposite lane, and before oncoming traffic.

………………………………..

A soft bang drew her out of her reverie. With the onset of awareness came a temporary panic. By standing in the middle of the street, lost in her thoughts, she had advertised her vulnerability. She looked around nervously and then started walking again. Her pace had increased perceptibly.

While walking away she fell back into that same train of thought. It was somehow funny, that she had experienced the apocalypse not as a leading character or a protagonist but from a third person perspective. After the crash, she was hospitalized, and a 15 inch TV had been the window through which she saw the rise of madness and the fall of civilization.

A few feet away from the newspaper stand, she heard another bang. This time, her pace was not the only thing that quickened. Her heart started to pound with an intensity that rattled her cranium.

She could tell that something was coming. The volume of the bang brought her to the awareness of two details. One-Something was approaching. Two-It was approaching fast. Slowly at first, and then with a heightened intensity, she began to hear, a rumbling noise. A deep growl, like thunder, but incipient.

She started to run, but in her panic, she lost her balance and fell hard. The adrenaline flooding her system numbed the pain she had been expecting to just a dull throbbing.

The source of the sound was much closer now. She willed herself to rise but her muscles just would not obey. Despair was taking over now and tears began to flow.

“Quick! Over here!”

She turned and saw that a few feet from her, standing to the side of the road, at the entrance to an alley, was a short man, beckoning.

“Over here, now!” the man said.

She was frozen in place.

The sound grew louder and louder. Closer and closer, it came.

Then, in several quick movements, the man dashed to her location, heaved her to her feet and helped her into the alley.

Moments later, it came thundering past. And she saw that “it” was actually not as abstract as her mind had made it seem, for “It” was actually “they”.

In the relative comfort of the alley, she looked toward the street and saw several men on horseback galloping at full speed.

Hooves collided with tar to create small explosions. And over the sound of that terrifying noise one of the men shouted “WOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOO!”

And as quickly as they had come, they were gone.

“We’re safe now,” the man said.

She said nothing as she was still panting.

“That was some crazy bunch,” the man said. “Damn. I think one of them had a chain of grenades over his chest. Were those assault rifles? Good thing they didn’t see us.

“My name is Errol. What’s yours?”

Silence.

With subterfuge, she slipped her right hand into her pocket.

“Not much of a talker I see,” Errol continued. “I don’t blame you though. We’ve all changed.”

She turned to look at him. Critically, this time.

He was average in every sense of the word. Except for two distinct features. One, he had a wide scar above his left eye. Judging from the look it must have been recent. Two, his tag glowed a light green. On it was the number 22345.

“We have to get going. Can’t stay here for two long. They might be back. Or worse.”

She wanted to protest, in spite of the fact that he had just saved her. However, with the horsemen in mind, she found herself thinking that he might not exactly be the worst company.

Hesitantly, she followed him.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

It had been a day since she had decided to leave her apartment. A day since the crazy horsemen. She was now in what used to be a bar with other survivors. Among them, Errol, his brother and six other people.

Since she followed Errol to this location, she made sure to keep a cautious distance from everyone. She rebuffed all initial attempts at small talk and soon, they all knew not to bother her.

They had spent the previous night in silence. As if they were all in denial of the reality of their situation. As if they did not want to taint their delusions with conversations.

However, this night was looking to be different. Maybe it was the bottle of booze they had shared earlier, but Errol and his brother Siegfried were feeling very chatty.

“Come on Errol, you really think this number above my head isn’t currency?” Siegfried said.

“That’s absolutely ridiculous Sig,” Errol said. “The government said it’s just a population census.”

“The government. Ha,” Siegfried said. “You’re so naïve Errol. None of those fools knew what was going on!”

“C’mon Sig”

“Listen here little brother. They say it’s a census yet people all around the world have these tags above their heads. Some people have even been spotted with numbers waaaaaay in the trillions. Even your lady friend there should be proof that the census claim is pure horseshit.”

She shifted uncomfortably in her seat.

“Then what exactly are these numbers Sig!” Errol barked.

“I really can’t say for sure, little brother,” Errol said. “Everybody seems to have their own opinion. But there are several key pieces of evidence that could inform your own opinion.”

The bar quieted down. Everybody was now listening in on the conversation with an intensity.

Siegfried, who was a natural showman, adjusted to this attention with panache.

He went on, “A friend of mine at the factory had a wife who worked as a janitor at the space agency. He told me that a few days ago, she had stopped going to work. She hadn’t been fired or anything. Apparently, they had discovered something which they absolutely could not risk being leaked to the media.

“Unfortunately all their efforts were futile. A few days after her suspension the channel five news reported that astronomers had discovered an artificial mega-structure lurking behind Jupiter.”

Channel five news, She scoffed. She remembered the news item very well. She was in the hospital, recovering from a foot surgery that day.

“You’ve got to be kidding,” Mae, a middle-aged woman, said.

“I kid you not, my lady,” Siegfried said. “Look, I know it all sounds ridiculous. But Mau Koch, you know Mau Koch, right Errol?”

Errol grunted in affirmation.

“Well, anyway, Mau Koch figured the whole thing out,” Errol said. “In an exclusive interview with Richard Shultz, he revealed that the “mega-structure” was actually an alien ship!”

“There’s no such thing as aliens,” she said, speaking for the first time.

They all turned to look at her.

She did not cower at their stares. Rather, she went on, “There’s no such thing as aliens. Channel five news is trash. Other news channels reported that the ‘mega-structure’ was actually a ninth planet just outside the solar system. ”

Siegfried smirked at her and then took a sip of his beer.

“Well Ma’am, you have your beliefs and I have mine,” his tone was so condescending. As if she was nothing other than an ignorant buffoon.

“But Sig,” Mae said, “You can’t possibly expect us to believe that. I mean, come on, aliens.”

Sig smirked again, “some of you are so stupid that you won’t even believe something when it hovers right over your head.”

Silence.

She felt very insulted and was about to raise her voice when a man said, “I think we’ve exhausted all other rational possibilities.”

She turned and looked. It was the man they called Karl. A former sociology professor.

“I don’t like the sound of aliens any better than any of you do,” Karl said. “It may be absolute bullshit. But when last I checked, no nation in this world possesses such an advanced holography technology.”

He gestured to his tag. “567,768” it said.

“All this time. We have lived under the assumption that humankind is the only race in the universe. This belief stems from the age long evolutionary mechanism of self-centeredness.

“Human beings have an inborn habit to glorify ourselves. Religiously, we are the chosen people. Mortal, flawed and ordained by the gods. Historically, we are the winners, the survivors. The sons and daughters of the kings who did not fall in battle. Scientifically, we are the perfect people. The right combination of genes necessary to thrive and to reproduce.

“But if it turns out we are not alone in the universe, all those beliefs are merely self-comforting lies.”

Siegfried broke the silence first, “Couldn’t have said it better myself.”

“So how do these three elements fit into the narrative?” Errol asked. “First the tags. Then Aliens. And then the carnage.”

“Two elements, my brother,” Siegfried replied. “Just the Tags and the Aliens. The carnage was entirely a construction of human beings.”

“That can’t be right Sig,” Errol said. “After the tags appeared, shit just started going south.”

“Things had been going south way before the tags appeared, Errol,” Karl said. “The tags were merely catalysts. The carnage that followed was the climax of human decadence.”

“It is truly sad,” Karl continued. “Human beings have never been perfect creatures. But the worst thing to happen in the history of human kind is the advent of self-consciousness. Of rational thought.”

God did not plan on our consciousness developing so well,” she spoke, surprising everyone including herself.

Karl looked at her and smiled. “A line from a poem, if I’m not mistaken? But it’s rather superbly appropriate. Human’s should never have evolved to the point of developing a consciousness.”

“Why,” Errol asked.

“Because with consciousness, our actions were no longer directed by instinct. And we now had the power and free will to defy nature.”

“Well that went on great for us,” Siegfried said, taking another sip.

“I know right!” Karl replied. “Lead-poisoned drinking water, human cloning, carbon emissions, unnatural weather patterns.”

“The atomic bomb,” Errol chimed in.

“The atomic bomb. The apotheosis of it all.”

“You men are being to abstract,” Mae said. “The riots started because people started to believe that these numbers above our head represent the value of a person’s life. That belief was the trigger that upset the social order.”

“And who said they don’t represent value?” Karl said. “What Siegfried said about the space agency isn’t some made up rumor. The mega-structure is not, as they would have us believe, a ninth planet.

“It’s true they found something lurking beyond Jupiter. And its true that it was an alien space ship. Soon after the discovery was made, a probe was sent out. They found the aliens all right, but they were all dead.”

“What?” Siegfried exclaimed.

“The Aliens were all dead.”

“Who killed them?”

“Not who but what. Many astrobiologists and astrochemists believed they were diseased. Who knows, maybe it was some space parasite.”

“This makes absolutely no fucking sense,” she shouted.

“I know. I know it makes no sense,” Karl said. “Before the riots started, one of the popular theories circulating among higher ups was that aliens were actually here to enslave us.

“Some intellectuals thought that numbers on the tags represented our serial numbers. But a conflicting and popular idea was that the numbers represented the value of our lives.”

“What criteria did they use to judge the value of a person’s life?” She snapped. “My number is the highest I’ve seen yet I’m nothing special.”

“I think,” Karl said, “The criteria used is unknown and unknowable. The question itself is a deeply philosophical one, well beyond our tiny minds. Even beggars and junkies have been seen with higher numbers than kings and politicians”

“Why did they even need to display these numbers?” she asked.

“I really don’t know. When you walk into a supermarket how do you determine the price of items?”

“Are you kidding? You think they intended to sell us? To who?”

“I don’t know. To other aliens I suppose.”

“Oh fucking bullshit.”

“Look, I know this is very hard to take in,” Karl said. “This narrative didn’t go exactly how anyone thought it would go.

“The aliens are dead. And their price tags have already catalyzed the collapse of governments. It would be naïve to consider what took place in the last couple of weeks as anything other than an apocalyptic event. The end of the world has come to pass. But instead of a super flu, a volcanic eruption or a meteorite, we were destroyed by an unlikely combination of events.

“It fucking sucks. To be left behind in this senseless world. But we’re here now. And I don’t know about you but I want to live.”

Karl finally stopped speaking and the silence that followed was heavy. Everybody was taking in what he said and everybody was contemplating the future.

She was thinking too. Karl was right. It didn’t matter how the world had ended. Only that it had. Maybe she was lucky to be alive. Maybe she wasn’t. But the long night had come and she had to live through it.

The world had become a cold and dangerous place. Filled with the insane and the fearful. This group was her best chance of survival. Sure, they weren’t perfect. But they were her best shot.

After all, she wanted to live.

DAWN

Life is a funny thing. Even in death. The more you get, the more you want. At first, you’ll be happy just to hunt. Just to kill. But soon, you get inventive. Shall I kill killers today? Or thieves? Prostitutes? Children? Shall it be a quick death? A slow death? A sip? A feast? Before you realize, you’re in full swing. Discretion never meant anything to you in the first place. You’ll feed right there in the night club. A perfect scene to stage a murder. There among the cacophony of lights and the dissonance of guitars. There among a hundred not-witnesses. What does it matter, as long as you arrive at your coffin before the sun comes up?

Sometimes, when you try to avoid the most obvious dangers, you fall prey to the more insidious ones.

Gone are the days when I lived wild. When I was a young vampire high on the remnants of my human blood. Nighttime fumblings with strange women in dark alleys easily transformed from sexual endeavors to nutritive ones. Sometimes they were combinations of both.

Blood was never enough for me. I would always combine with alcohol and drugs. Deep during the night, on Harley-Davidson motorbikes, speed and light trails would combine to produce psychedelic episodes of epic proportions. In those moments I was a true Modern Vampire of the City. A creature of the night. You cannot experience true hedonism until you’re free of the fear, of the inevitability, of death. Being immortal, I went all out.

But sooner or later however, you realize that actions have consequences, even in death. Spend so long avoiding the Reaper, He soon finds you.

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The members of my Coven were hunted down and slaughtered like dogs. Squealing and yelping like pigs before the butcher. I never fully realized that there is no grace in death. No. Not until I watched my brothers die.

There were the heroes of dark fantasy. The Van Helsing’s and Ben Mears’. Heroes not unlike knights of folklore, facing goblins, giants and dragons. Good and evil were never blurred lines to them. And glory and fair lady were always one climax away.

And then there are the animals known as hunters. Perhaps the greatest sign of their cruelty is their creativity. I had been captured once by hunters. Death did not come as I expected. Instead, I was skinned. My body was the canvas. The hot knife was the brush. And the hunter was the artist. A dark artist indeed. The echoes of my screams complimented perfectly the sadism of the act. As the sun rose, and my consciousness faded, I thought that I would not live to see another sunset. However, I woke again at night, to see that my wounds had healed, and that the hunter had come, once again, with his knife. The prolific Picasso. The resilient Mozart. It was then that I realized that those who died during the hunt were the lucky ones.

As fate would have it, I escaped. I was rescued in fact. The various vampire factions in the city had decided to put aside their differences in order to battle the rising threat of the hunters. The enemy of my enemy. However, I had had enough. When you’ve almost been tortured to madness, you come to realize that there’s absolutely nothing poetic about burning bright and fading fast. The hunters had asserted to me just who was top of the food chain. The message was clear. I fled.

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Hilton was a small town. Right about in the middle of nowhere. The people were plentiful and simple enough to promise sustenance without trouble. Provided I didn’t get too excited, I would live for decades without arousing suspicion.

Here in Hilton, I experienced for the first time in death, just what it meant to feed for survival and not for pleasure. In the city, I could feed several times a night. However, in Hilton, I never ventured beyond a body a week. And it wasn’t always humans. Sometimes cows, sometimes pigs. Sometimes I didn’t even kill, I just fed. Word travels fast in small towns. Get too excited and soon you’d have mobs, torches and pitchforks.

I made my nest deep underground in an old well. The water had long since dried up and the place was full enough of rodents that would sustain me in times of difficulty.
The life I would have in Hilton did not promise to be glamorous but it would be long. If there’s anything I learnt in captivity, it’s that I want to live, even as a dead man.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Fast forward several months and we come to my current predicament. It wasn’t simply death by sunlight or by hunger, but rather, a cruel combination of both. I had exactly three days. Three days after which the sun would rise, never to set for eighty-two days. Never to set for eleven weeks.

I should have seen this coming. I should have known. But in the midst of the hunt, I attuned my senses to focus on the dangers before me, at the expense of the awareness of less immediate dangers.

In the city, I was so attuned to the cycle of night and day and night and day. How was I supposed to be aware of the planetary revolution? Of the shifting axis? How was I to know of the summer solstice? However, ignorance is no excuse and nature is unsympathetic. The midnight sun was coming for me. Bright, unforgiving and seemingly eternal.

Vampires, by default, lose consciousness when the sun comes up. Provided you have enough blood in your system, you wake up once the sun sets. A fully grown human being has enough blood to sustain me for about a week, but the solstice promised to be several times the length of a week.

The danger was very real. The sun would prevent me from hunting. Without hunting I would run out of blood. Without blood I would never wake.

Desperation is a funny thing. You could call it a facet of madness. I didn’t want to die. I just didn’t. However, I knew that if I went to sleep I would never wake. My options were thin. I couldn’t skip town. The next bus would arrive in Hilton the day after the Summer Solstice began. I had just one option left.

It’s very funny. Something you would read out of an old fantasy novel really. A “ritual”. Something I picked up during my brief affairs with the elder ones. At the time, I listened just as an indulgence of their weird habits. I was skeptical of such things at first, but later, it occurred to me that a walking, talking, flying dead body is in no position to be skeptical. My desperation further pushed me to try it.

The ritual seemed simple enough. A small concoction. A tiny price to pay. Bloodsucking monsters? 24 hour days? Human sacrifice seemed a fitting addition to this debacle. Just three people. Three people and some minor casualties. Maybe.

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The people of Hilton are very religious. Old fashioned in a way. It’s the type of town where everybody knows everybody else by name. For this reason, I rarely ventured among the living during the night. I lived purely as an animal. Sleep, rise, hunt. Repeat. But my project meant I had to break this routine. A price to pay for my continued existence.

The child was fairly easy. Early as dusk came, I rose from my well, to prowl the school playground. The dying light did not bother me, since I hid in the shadows. Unseen but seeing. When playtime was over, I followed two young boys as they walked home. I had no time for games. I did not frighten them. There was no talk of “did you hear that?” At a fairly isolated location, under the cover of trees, I swooped down.

You would think a virgin would not be difficult to find in a small town high school but it would shock you. I employed the same strategy I used with the children. Waiting in the shadows at dusk. Eventually, one girl isolated herself from a pack. Foolish, I thought, as I began to follow her. When I got close enough, my heightened sense of smell told me that something was amiss between her legs. In anger, I fled. I searched desperately for another child before they all went indoors. A maiden, innocence, and the light of the lord. No age had been specified. In time, I found one, and returned quickly to my well. I had already killed the first child and drained his blood into a chalice. The second child constituted my supper that night. The fate of the former would befall this child. The child was kicking and screaming. Crying. Perhaps in life I would have felt for the girl, but as a vampire, you tend to see all humans as what they ultimately are: fodder.

My incisors had already been claimed by hunters. In order to puncture his veins, I drew my knife.

Two nights had passed and the final night had come. The summer solstice was upon me. Light of the lord, your time has come.

I did not have to rise early in order to hunt the priest. I waited and waited until midnight. My stomach rumbled and though the urge to drink from the chalice was strong, I resorted instead to the rodents. Finally, the hour came, and I rose from my well. All black, like a true harbinger of death.

I flew slowly over the town. It was such a small town. Full of so many innocent people. Yet, no town is fully innocent. Each settlement, each gathering of humans, has its own dark secrets. And as I flew over this town, I sensed that evil was taking place elsewhere. Incarnate in other forms, in other shapes. Under the cover of the night, behind locked doors, and under the institution of matrimony.

Eventually, I came to perch upon the roof of the church. The priest was within. I could smell him. I stood on the roof, and surveyed the town for a final time. And then I went in.

The pastor was kneeling before the altar as I entered, praying. Deliver us from evil. I smiled.
I waited till he had finished. Finally he rose. Sensing me perhaps, he turned.

“Ah son. What brings you here this time of the night? ”, he said. I sensed that deep behind his bravado, his fear was beginning to take shape.

I decided to humor him.

“Father I have sinned”, I said. The sarcasm was imperceptible in my voice.

“Well, it’s never too late to bring your woes upon the lord,” he said. “Come, join me.”

He took a seat at the pew. As I started my long walk down the aisle, I began to imagine in my head just I would kill him. Perhaps I would snap his neck. Perhaps not.

I sat down at the pew with the priest. He looked gaunt. Worn, even.

“Was just ‘bout to turn in before you came in son.” He began. “Now, you can tell me all what’s troubling you. But before we begin, share a drink with me.”

He reached into his robe and brought out a bottle. I raised my eyebrow in skepticism.

“Can’t blame an old man for havin’ a little sip now and then, can you?”

It smelled like common booze. He took a long drink and then handed me the bottle.
I took a sip. He seemed satisfied.

“Now what was it you wanted to talk about son?”

“Father”, I started, looking down.

“Father I have-”, I paused. My head was spinning lightly. A brief dizziness caused perhaps by the swift motion of my head when I decided to look away.

“Father I-”

I choked. A burning sensation had started in my oesophagus. My body felt heavy. I fell towards the ground.

The periphery of my vision consisted only of blurred lines. I turned to face the priest, and in my confusion, I could just make out, what looked like a smirk on his face.

He rose.

“It isn’t holy water if that’s what your wonderin’. Holy water is good, sure. But for some robust types, it just goes straight through their system.”

I couldn’t believe what was happening. I turned away, trying to organize my thoughts. To consider my options. My strength was fading fast. My insides were on fire.

“When the Rudolph twins disappeared, I thought it was nothin’”, he started. “Just kids being kids. I thought they’d soon be found.”

“Then, I started to get real suspicious when little Clarice Withers also went missing yesterday.

“A younger hunter might not have caught on this soon. But when you’re as experienced as I am, and you couple those disappearances with complaints of sick livestock and amnesiac wives, you just know, there’s a bloodsucker in town.”

The priest was standing over me now, a shotgun in hand.

“Small town like Hilton, we don’t get many of your kind around. But guess you got sloppy. And I can almost understand your haste. With the summer solstice comin’ and all.”

My senses began to go haywire. I could hear spiders beneath the floorboards. The sound of their crawl threatened to split my head. Far far away, a thunder strike all but shattered my eardrums. The priest was still talking. His slow speech cut through my sensory overload like a knife through butter.

“Maiden, Innocence and Light of the Lord huh? Figured you’d get me easy? I don’t blame yer though. How’d you know that weak old Father Castor was a retired hunter?”

BANG!

The whole town must have heard me screaming. Tears gathered in my eyes and saliva dripped from my mouth. My now destroyed leg further slowed my crawl.

The priest quickened his pace.

“Back in the days, I used to live for the hunt. Nights spent crafting traps just to hear some ol’ bloodsuckers squeal. But I had to give that up. I couldn’t keep up anymore. No, not after I lost my left foot.”

I was getting desperate now. Frantic.

“Got caught in one of my old bear traps. They had to amputate my leg. I had to give it up.”

BANG

The bones in my chest had mostly been smashed to bits. My screams barely made a sound this time. The air would not rush into my lungs.

“I decided to move back home. Serve the lord a different way, you know?”

He picked me up and pinned me against the wall. He wasn’t nearly as weak as he looked.

“Thank you for giving me this opportunity.”

In one swift movement, I reached into my cloak, took out my knife and stabbed him in the eye.

“AAAAARRGH!!”

“YOU MUTHAFUCKIN’ BLOODSUCKER!”

Nobody had to tell me to take this opportunity. With a burst of strength I started to flee.
I couldn’t fly. Not while I was this weak. Not like this. Instead, I leapt, fell, crawled and leapt again.

In time, I made it to the town graveyard. Beyond which was the high school, beyond which were some abandoned buildings, beyond which was my well.

I propped my body against a gravestone. I couldn’t navigate by sound since my senses were going haywire. Miles away, I could smell the blood of the priest as he bleed all over the floor. Fireflies cut through the air like airplanes.

My nerves were failing and I had no energy left to take to the sky.

I couldn’t die here. I just couldn’t. Was fate so cruel as to draw my attention to the impending danger of the summer solstice just to let me die of a gunshot wound?

I lay there for a while. That thing called hope kept me in mental cycles in which there was a possibility of escaping this predicament. A squirrel will run up to me. A bird will fly over me. Their blood will rejuvenate me.

As time went on, my expectations were becoming increasingly unrealistic.

My brothers will find me. Robert Long’s hysteric wife will come for a midnight stroll. This is all a bad dream.

Fuck!

My vision was failing. My breath was slowing. One of the last things I saw before I lost my sight completely were the shadows. Shadows which were deepening. Shadows which were lengthening.

The midnight sun was rising.

Sad Boys/Free Fall/Currency

Sad boy,

You let the time pass, fruitlessly, hoping that the night can contain your grief. Even the bubbles that come together in the water bath, that grow and shrink and drift apart, to give a metaphor to your despair, soon give in to turbulence, and burst. Don’t look away, you know no one cares. Not even probability, or shampoo companies.

Endless nights engrossed in thoughts. Trains guided by the echo of a powerful intellect. Why is everything so blue? Why does my water now taste of tears? Does solitude nourish the soul or devastate it? Were metaphysics and geometry simply filters, sugar and anesthetics?

The neurons proceed in their dance. At the tip of Freud’s Iceberg, you’re bold as a lion. But, down below, there’s a party going on. We laugh and drink and piss on concepts that used to be encapsulated by words such as “self worth” and “confidence”. We see now that despair is the true reality.

What is purpose? Was it not this lie that was told to you like a mothers love? What is friendship? Isn’t it merely currency, with which we buy security and love and the thought of being wanted? What are dreams and ambitions? Ah, that demon and his brother which make us think that Apollo’s journey is worth it.

Sad boy, reality is not for you. Reality is this Persepolis where those whose bubbles still hold meaning for them convene. You’re a sad boy, because their bubbles may never burst. They may drift apart, but they will never implode.

And now you’re in free fall. A leaf caught in a battle between North Wind and True Wave. A life enclosed by four walls:

  1. Memory
  2. The future
  3. The past
  4. What if

 

End.

Najenda

We Begin.
It seems like a desperately random series of events.
A comet is knocked of course by the gravity well of an asteroid.
It crash lands onto a planet in the early stages of formation, all fire and wrath. Organic molecules are released onto the planet.
Macro-molecules become bio-molecules. Temperatures cool. Conditions become reasonable. Evolution starts.
Fast forward a few million years, and life is thriving. Prokarya multiply, spread and conquer. And soon, the atmosphere is all the rage. What is climate?
A few hundred years more, and nature is a beauty now. Evolution is a true artist. Heterotrophs and Autotrophs settle into roles and relationships which spawn survival and perpetuation.
Millions of years more and, what is consciousness? What is language? What is emotion?
This is where it gets interesting.
What is culture? What is War? What is Strife?
In time, the human population thrive on the surface of the earth. Over seven billion human beings in number. Living, loving, fighting, reaping, destroying, and being.
The upright ape has developed a consciousness to the point where self-destructive behavior is as common as productive behavior. Where insanity has devolved into nothing but a point of view. Where art can be as necessary to stability as safety or food.
******************************************************************************
It’s a sunny day and a young girl in a blue dress sits beneath a tree with an apple in her hand. The gentle breeze shifts the leaves and allows the sunbeams to dance across her face. Her mind is as tranquil as the blue sky. She is at peace.
In time, her mind is disturbed by a thought, just as a bird in flight breaks the blue of the sky, but much more violently. The thought spawns another thought. And another.
And another.
Eventually, the thoughts reach a crescendo and her mind is not the sky, but rather, it’s a violent and stormy sea.
She breathes in and all is calm. It’s easy to seek refuge in the boredom, in the tranquility. She breathes again, taking in the scent of nectar and pollen and serendipity.
She closes her eyes and digs her fingers into the warm earth beneath. She brings a handful closer to her face to observe. Without opening her eyes, she takes in a breathful of the dirt, the earthworms and the life.

 

What is humanity, she wonders?

March

My nostrils are dry and my head feels like its about to split open. My nerves struggle to confer with my brain. As a result, I am deprived of the full experience of the pain of my disease. A small victory for me in the midst of this banal life.

My mind cannot linger on minutia though.

I am staring out at the star. A benign red giant. A mother to a very affluent planet.

The planet itself is beautiful. An intelligent species, a superb culture, a staggering progression. But in spite of its beauty, I do not think about the planet.

My thoughts remain on its lone red giant.

And I ponder. Creation, death, evolution, life, reality, programming, destruction, existence? God.

God?

I couldn’t care less about God at this point. After all, what is She? if not another variable in this continuum. This immortality. This endless cycle of space-time. Or should it be life-death?

The red super-giant still has .9 billion years before the big light show.

My thoughts depart from stellar life cycles just moments before I destroy the lone planet.

The next planet orbits a super-massive black hole. This time, I sit down and watch an episode of “I love lucy” as I set the planet to implode.

944 million lives being extinguished in the backdrop of a black and white sitcom.

At first, I was creative. I would erupt volcanoes, fire meteors, unleash deadly viruses, generate civil unrest which would then escalate to carnage.

But later, (or sooner. Time really means nothing to me at this point.) I would just blow the planets up.

This was also fun at first, but ennui just turned BOOM! to BOOM to boom.

The next one was a binary star system. Perhaps my recent reveries had made me sentimental. I got a little creative and generated gravitational imbalances that caused the stars to spiral into each other and explode, destroying the seven planets that needed them for sustenance.

This act of rebellion against routine was pathetic and I felt more mundane after it.

The inhabitants of this universe, this stored information, their intelligences have concluded that the end is near.

They are quite right, but for the wrong reasons.

I don’t blame them. The truth is severely overrated. They are better of in their confusion.

What would they believe? That they were created for a purpose? That existence isn’t void of meaning? That love and loss and despair are aspects of reality? That they have to progress not just as a marker of time but as a marker of hope? That their reality is real?

Ignorance is bliss.

Even in their uncertainty and fear, ignorance is bliss. Their mentality is so dependent on their being right that if alternatives are explored, insanity will follow.

I know the truth however. And it isn’t blissful, or wrathful. Its just truth.

The truth?

Its destiny.

What would they do with the truth? They believe that their “science” is a search for the truth? No. Its simply an indulgence of their own self-importance.

I know the truth however.

The truth that I destroy planets not because I am God, or war, or natural disaster as they would believe.

The truth that this “existence” boils down to a few googol lines of code and that I am simply a computer viruses, deleting sections of the code, sections which end up being interpreted as planets. Deletions which end up being interpreted as explosions.

If they knew the truth, they would be compelled to ask, “Whose hard disk?” But by virtue of experience, I know that question would only lead to this answer, “Whose hard disk?”

Its just destiny, the ignorant will ponder. The knowledgeable would know.

And I would destroy.

BOOM! to BOOM to boom.

 

 

 

 

The Turning

He sits quietly and sips some tea, under a tree. The earth turns below his feet, the clouds drift by like great white beasts. The sun is in his face.

All is quiet.

Once, the world was his. He was the master of an art which shifted the world and his mastery was sought, long and hard, by those who wished to rule.

With his talent and his tools, he cast the world in red.

He did not care for the reasons for which they came: Love, duty, honor.

Some tried to stand over him, most often they sank to their knees. Of those who came, those in quest of the world made him laugh the most. In so far as there was at least one of such men in the world, he would play his instrument, he would sing his song.

He would paint the sky red.

Oh, they hated him, envied him, loved him, but these emotions of theirs were irrelevant. They all stood pitifully in the shadow of the one true emotion. The one true emotion by which he conquered. The one true emotion by which he held the world.

Fear.

Whatever else they felt did not matter in so far as, primarily, they feared him. And it was a primal fear too for he was a beast cast in the shape of a man.

It was not so much about his heart as it was about fear.

But, nature took its course. In as much as they feared him, the world still turned, life went on.

Eventually they dreamed of things more proficient in his art than he himself was. Initially such things could only exist in the mind, as foolish dreams and futile imaginations. But once the idea had gripped the mind of man, it was not far from reification.

Nature took its course. He was replaced by devices which people feared much, much more than they feared him. He was replaced by devices which were much, much more easy to control than he was. Nature took its course, he was forgotten.

The world turned, still, and some things were lost in time. He became extant. A relic of the past. An anachronism.

What had once been a glorious existence, had now been reduced to this banal existence. He was a man debased. When once he killed humans, he now killed time.

So now he merely exists. Spending his time sipping tea, with the sun in his face. Watching the slow march of clouds.

After all, what else is a warlord to do in peacetime?

The Darkness Calls…

Its irony.
The powerful man.
A man in possession of power lacks the will to use it. Or rather he has the will but fails to let his intellect guide it, and would much rather be ruled by his emotions.
This is especially bad, for he is a wreck, fluctuating emotions like electrical discharges in a lightning storm.
His worst fear is failure. He reeks of it. It latches on, sucks out all positive emotions and leaves him with nothing but negativity. This man, he reeks of failure. He is a cold and bitter man.
The powerless man.
The powerless man has vision, the powerless man has insight, the powerless man has intellect. The powerless man has pride. No, to say he has pride is to seriously underestimate his relationship with that state. He is pride. Filling himself with it until he becomes hubris in a meatsack.
They meet. It is raining when they meet.
On the side of the powerless man, it rains frustration. On the side of the powerful man, it rains failure. On both sides it rains pride.
So they walk past each other like nothing. And they leave the darkness to bear their dark emotions.
And the darkness? It could care less.
The thunder rumbles. The sky lights up.
The darkness could care less.