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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Death at the fireplace – Revised (Version 1.1)

    The dreamless sleep in which I was lost in was shattered by the radio alarm which blared out some song as the faceless man moaned about the changing weather patterns and sudden storm which might hit the town in the night. The constant chatter of the radio jockey started to push the bone deep sleep ever so slowly away. He talked just about everything under the sun and I really seemed to enjoy the monologue which consisted of how awful the weather was, the food joints, who bashed whom last night at the bar and how much the town had changed in the last ten years. Still half asleep, I started to mumble Jane’s name and started to extend my arm to drag her a little closer. An empty bed, wrinkled bed sheet and an empty pillow yet no warm body. My hand started frantically run back and forth as my mind became agitated and sleep lost its hold on me. The sound of a train screeching to a halt while blaring out its whistle drew me out the dark thoughts I was floating in. I slowly came to the senses like a snake waking up from deep sleep. The bone deep weariness fell off me and I slowly started to felt refreshed. The sounds of long haul trucks were heard humming by below and another lonesome train horn went off somewhere in the distance reminding me how far from home I was.



    Waking up from a deep sleep, I got out of the bed. My body was stiff and muscles sore from the events of last night. Looking at the empty bed, I called out Jane’s name out loud yet the empty house just echoed back. The room was once more as empty as it was the day before. Throwing the bed sheet off, I sat on the edge and wondered what happened and what my next course of action will be. I ran my hand across my face and thought of getting a shave and a bath before heading down to clear up the cobwebs in my mind some hearty breakfast and plan out my next move.

    Electricity poles, town lights and small houses started to turn off their lights as the night lowly turned into day. Time rolled on till I lost track of time. I had all but forgotten about Jane’s visit and the events that seemed like happened in another lifetime until I pulled the sheets and pillow covers out onto the floor, I saw a sight which not only startled me but took my breath away. It seemed like a ghost from my past had returned to haunt me once more. After a few moments, my hands reached out and picked up the folded piece of paper.


    Running up the stairs and almost breaking my legs a few times, I finally made it to the attic. It took a few tries to find the right key to open the lock and it took some effort to open the rusty lock. The door creaked open as a startled bird flew out making me gasp out loud and fall backwards. Looking inside, I saw cobwebs everywhere and a thick layer of dust covering everything. I started to cough as a thin layer of dust started to float as I started to walk across the floor. In the distance I saw a dust covered table with a table light. Walking over I flipped on the study light on the desk. It was a large room with a blazing fireplace at the very far end. Wooden book shelves lined one end of the wall while there was a large window at the opposite end. It was still dark outside. One the floor, there was a lush carpet and behind the bar was a huge wine rack filled with numerous bottles. This place seemed timeless and older than time itself at the same time. Standing in the flickering shadows, I wondered about the content of the letter. As I brushed my hands along the walls, I got the sensation that the walls were smooth, rough, and alive as it seemed to move and pulsate under my hands.

    Wiping the dust off the desk, I unfolded sheet of paper. Opening it, I saw that it was a note from Jane addressed to me.

    “Hello dear,

    If you ever read this note, then it means that you have changed your mind and decided to chart out a new destiny for yourself. It must have been a hard decision as it takes awhile for a person at times to make course correction in their life when they are set in their ways. I am glad that you have decided to restart your life and accept the responsibilities that it offers. New adventures await you at every turn and new sights to see at every bend. I really don’t know where I’ll be or even if I’ll be around when you finally decide to head out to reclaim you destiny. Yet, I’ll be back to meet you one last time when the time is right.

    I hope you are able to put the past into proper perspective and wrap up any unfinished business so that the old memories don’t come back to haunt you in your sleep or in your waking moments. Failures and the guilt associated with it sometimes weigh us down more than the unfinished business itself. The future is unwritten and the past can still be undone. I’ve been meaning to ask you to go through you old diary. I got thinking that it must have crossed your mind that you’ll never need it and yet at the same time not wanting to get rid off either. It took many long years to build up those contacts and it’s time to touch base with them once more before the trail gets cold. I’ve pulled it out for you and it’s on the table near the window. Pull up a chair there and flip through it once more. The coffee pot should still be in the corner, though it might be a tad dusty by now. So go ahead and grab some coffee before hitting the road. Ask for me up at the space port.

    With best regards,

    Jane

    I sat there a little stunned and it took me a few moments to come back to my senses. I looked around wondering if Jane was still here and all I saw was an empty room. The emptiness weighed down on me and it made me realize how much I missed the gal. I had no idea where I’ll find her or where to look for her. It took me a moment to find the phone directory. It took awhile to get what I wanted and finally I closed the long forgotten diary and started to think things out.



    I guess I had been sitting here for what seemed like many long hours. The cigar which seemed like it was lit just a moment back was just ashes and a burnt out stub was left. Grinding it into the ash filled try which was now overflowing, I got up to stretch my aching muscles. I wheel myself to the window which faces the road. The total darkness felt so soothing and I felt at home in the pool of darkness that this ageless house offered.

    The curtains are drawn, yet the twin suns were already burning away the last remnants of the morning and rudely intruded into the darkness of the room. Stepping away from the harsh burning light, I peeked outside and saw that it was raining heavily yet the city life was in full swing as the yellow school bus was picking up kids. A city bus slowly wound its way through the streets and finally to the intersection near the solitary house which I now resided till I had to move on. The people who were in a rush to reach office hurriedly boarded the bus and spewed out people coming back from the graveyard shift. The streets quickly became empty as it rounded the corner, switched on its afterburner and disappeared into the horizon. The few people who were seen on the sidewalks were rushing through the open spaces either trying to reach home after disembarking from the city bus or trying to clean out their driveway of the debris thrown by the wild winds before the sun reaches its peak and they turned into crispy taters.

    It was one of the hottest summers which we had in the decade. Even from inside the room, one could feel the hot blistering winds whenever it used to barrel down towards the plains from the ever encroaching desert as it find its way through the wilting trees and shakes them till all the leaves on them had fallen down. The strong hot winds used to shake the house so hard that it felt like it might crumble any moment. The dust and debris covered city casting magical brown light upon the land. The street and homes slowly started to wear a deserted look even though the sun hasn’t risen much higher.

    Looking up, I saw the blazing suns slowly disappear behind a cloud, there was a slight crackling hum, one could feel the static and smell ozone in the air. The house starts to shake and shudder as it is buffeted by what seemed like the unending storms. The storm passes and the utter silence which seems to permeate through the walls amplified my own breathing. The ground shook a bit and I heard a heavy sound of boots rudely stomping on the wooden flooring which seemed to be coming towards me. The sound came closer. The sudden rough knock in the door startled me and brought me out of the thoughts I was in. A strong earthy smell permeated the room and the sound of shrieking crows filled their ears. Reddish yellow light spilled into the room as the resident gargoyle hissed at me to tell me that the breakfast was ready and asked if I was coming down or not. I growled at him to head on downstairs and I’ll be there in a bit. Looking out the window one last time before I left, I saw the harsh burning sunlight had disappeared and greenish light filtered through the curtains.

    After what seemed like a lifetime, I finally made my way downstairs. The empty table, broken furniture, rotting curtains and the constant scurrying sounds of the rats hidden behind the walls could not keep my mind from feeling a little uneasiness I was feeling from the unfinished business at hand. The whistling sound of the kettle wakes me out of the dark thoughts that I had fallen into. Teleporting between planes even if it was work related always wore me out and I never knew where I would end up while exiting this place and in what condition. With some effort, I got out of the chair and headed off to the kitchen to see if something could be done to shake the lethargy out of my system. Grabbing the kettle, I pour some coffee into my mug to banish the thorn from my mind and plan out the method by which it can be removed.

    It’s another bare room just like the rest of the house. The floor boards creaks every time I put my foot down, there were cobwebs in the ceiling and the lone window was grimy from eons and eons of existence. It mattered not much to me as it was just another rest house while travelling between different planes of existence which gave me the shortcut I needed. Pulling aside the tattered curtain, I rubbed the window to peek outside once more. The hustling, bustling city scene was gone. A green sky which seemed to surround the whole house greeted me above and I saw infinite number of endless shifting realities each displaying their wares before blinking out.

    I wondered if this was the worst solar storm of the millennium. It won’t be safe teleporting in such condition as I really didn’t want my atoms scattered all over the multiple universes. I guess it would be next to impossible finding a taxi going past the house on this bitter storm. I called up the taxi services once again for a quick pick me up which seemed like a better idea as a major storm was headed this way and the corridors were already starting to wear a deserted look.

    I looked at myself once more in the full length mirror and combed my hair before stepping out into one of the hallways. The space lanes and the cluster of shops which sat on the numerous rocks wore a deserted look even though most of the shops were open waiting for the late evening weekend rush. The few aliens who were seen on the sidewalks were rushing through the open spaces either trying to catch a passing by space taxi or trying to figure out which pile of debris was theirs. The magnetic tow trucks seemed to be hovering everywhere and were seen using their tractor beams pulling the ships out of the craters and the dead ones to the nearest black hole. A few sirens were heard on the lanes and I guess someone needed some help. The giant plows were lazily moving down the space lanes using their magnetic beams to push the debris off to the. The hazard filled area slowed down our journey and I was getting sick of the constant slipping and swaying of the taxi.

    The constant chatter of the taxi driver kept my mind away from the grim weather. Xeno turned one of his heads towards me and talked just about everything under the sun. I really seemed to enjoy the monologue which consisted of how awful the taxi union were, the food joints, who bashed whom last night at the bar and how his wife always used to whack one of his two head and gave him an ear full for coming home late. Pretty soon, the suffocating cluttered feeling turned into a comfortable one and I must have dozed off.

    The taxis horn and the jovial cheeky remarks woke me out of the slumber. As we neared our destination, the taxi started to shake as it exited a worm hole and skipped over a magnetic cross currents. We finally spotted a giant piece of land on another nameless piece of rock floating in space. Barreling down head wards at high speed, the taxi made its way towards it before it disappeared once more. The taxi started to heat up and turned beat red. Soon it turned into a huge ball of fire. I start to notice the continent getting larger and I start to see mountains, rivers, lakes and huge forests. Xeno finally turned on the nitro pack which is strapped in the rear and accelerate downwards at an even greater speed as he really want to make an impact on the people and the surroundings.

    After what seems like floating for many eons in total darkness, I open my eyes and see lush green forest cover through which the sun is peeking through. My body is aching really badly and all bones seem to be broken. Nervously, I move my fingers, toes and become really relieved that no serious damage is done. Crawling out of the craft gingerly, I notice that I am in a really deep crater probably created by the impact. Over to one side, I notice a long stretch of road heading off towards the city. The taxi finally managed to hover out of the deep crater, I hopped in and strapped myself down once more as we started to fly towards the silent city to wrap up the loose ends. Lightning flashed across the sky, thunder boomed and a sudden downpour caught us unaware. The journey slowed down to a crawl as the road turned muddy and the ship started to short circuit. Pulling off to the side, repair work is undertaken. The damaged hydrogen fuel cell thrown out, burnt wiring ripped out new power core inserted and wiring replaced. The craft lights up like Christmas lights once more and we start to glide down the muddy roads once more. All the power lines leading to the town seemed to be knocked out and none of the houses down in the valley showed any sign of activity. Not a soul was in sight and even the stray dogs were nowhere to be seen. The rain died down as quickly as it had started, yet it seemed like there was another storm was brewing just over the horizon. You could feel it building up and in the bones which seemed worse than this one.

    A brightly lit old double story house loomed ahead of us as we rounded a corner and it seemed no different than the others next to it. The journey was almost over and I felt that the time had arrived to wrap up the unfinished work. Holding my trench coat firmly to my body, I got out of the taxi and ran towards the steps. My body became heavy and I seemed to miss a step due to the gravity as soon as I stepped out.

    The door opened just as I was about to knock and a group of people seemed to rush out almost knocking me over. Their jaws dropped to the ground, eyes grew wide as they saw the space taxi launch itself back into space sending a dust cloud everywhere. Leaving the dust covered people outside; I wandered inside to see a dimly lit hallway which led to a sitting room. Off to one side, I saw a coat room where I wandered into to bid my time.

    As I peeked out of the coat room and into the sitting room, I saw that there was a blazing fire in the fireplace. There were a few empty chairs near it waiting for their occupants. A dry cough, the sound of a match stick striking against its box and the smell of cigar told me that someone had arrived before me and there were others making themselves comfortable. I had seen this man somewhere else before and remembered that he always sat closest to the fire place as he liked to throw the wood in there and watch it pop and sparkle a bit before it caught on fire. He was soon joined by others and the numbers slowly swelled until the small room filled up.
    I had been coming here for many long years to watch these strange people tell tall tales to each other. The grandfather clock down in the hallway boomed and the hand had struck twelve. It startled me out of the deep thought I was in and I realized that the time had arrived to do the deed which I had come for.


    Pushing aside the coats and umbrellas, I walked past them and soon I found my way to an old weather beaten door that I knew from before. My mind was ablaze as my hand went to the door knob and started to turn it slowly open. Pushing the door open, I saw the sitting room bathed in the red light emitting from the fireplace. The ceiling had disappeared and I saw huge twin suns while six moons were seen circling the sky. Strong winds started to tug at me and I struggled to hold my place. . Every so often a meteorite would get pulled downwards and disappear in a blaze of light. A giant storm was brewing on the horizon as lightening flashed and thunder roared.

    My lungs started to burn and the heart was pounding do hard that it felt like it was going to pop out. I shrieked out in pain as fatigue slowly overtook me as I felt my body shaking and my vision began to blur. Waking up after what seemed like many eons, I crawled to my knees and finally stood up. Spreading and stretching the huge wings, I started to flap them till, I started to rise into the sky.

    Flapping my giant wings, I hung effortlessly hung in the sky. The beings down below whose time had come felt hypnotized, lost in the bottomless pits which were like endless blur of stars and seemed to draw them deeper inside. My arm arched back and I started to recite the names of long lost and forgotten Gods. The wind began to howl and thicken around me. Wisps of smoke broke away and started to squeeze the life force out the living down below. The space taxi was hovering over the house and it could hardly be seen in the near total darkness. A haze appeared over each body and disappeared into my extended hand. My job was done I started to flap my wings slowly and glided out of the house and into the space ship above. Ever so silently like the gentle winds, it powered it way out of this solar system and beyond.


    Time passes by and after what seems like another lifetime, I find myself walking up to the window of the space port which faces the space city. The hardened plate glass clears a bit as I approach it and the view is as bleak as my inner self. The numerous suns and the distant stars blink and shine as they cast their dim light which gently finds its way into the room.

    As a meteorite belt circles a giant gaseous planet down below and this space port sits on a barren rock floats in space following the other rocks around the planet. It seems so out of place. The building shakes and shudders as it is buffeted by the solar storms and it sends a shudder down my spine wakes me out of the deep thoughts that I had fallen into dreaming the dreams that I always ended up dreaming. Coming back from the long haul had worn me out and I wanted to unwind before heading out once more. With some effort, I headed off to the cafeteria. Grabbing the coffee jar, I pour some coffee into my mug to banish the cobwebs from my mind and to see if I can pick up the threads of the dark dreams I was having once more.

    I dug deep into my pocket to find a bag of salted peanuts and a partially smoked cigarette. Looking out the window once more while I munched on the nuts and finished off my smokes, I wondered if I should head down to the pit or head to my room and go into deep sleep for the interplanetary travel.

    So I headed of to the crowded lounge where I end up sipping a lit Molotov cocktail without singing my whiskers, I noticed a really strange sight. There was a huge crowd gathered in one corner of the entertainment lounge. The crowd slowly parted and I saw a strange sight. There was a piano floating on top of a fire pit while an alien started to recite a mind numbing poem while beckoning me while another one at the opposite end gestured for me to go there. Time flew by faster than the fasted winds only to be broken by the dispatchers’ message that a new job had been assigned to me. Feeling a little saddened yet realizing that I must go, I wandered off to the deep sleep chambers to start my adventures anew.

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