Jinx

I’m not superstitious.

It is only the lack of proper information, or some crap to influence other’s decisions. 

Got the lighter ready in my hand, spitting sparks. It starts to snow with big fluffy feather like flakes. My cig is the only hot thing on me now.

Ira wastes my time, again. He’s late. Stressed X-mas shoppers bump into my shoulders, trample on my feet. Not one of them mutters a ‘sorry’. Ugh, so many nauseating songs filter through the shop entrances. It’s my third time round his block, and my toes are ice cubes. I need a hot coffee.

He’s supposed to show up forty minutes ago. The entrance to his  apartment building is a desperate kind of shabby. Not at all what you’d expect from an actor on the fast lane. He isn’t answering the bell. He isn’t answering his phone either.

It’s not that he wants to be picked up, or something… I walk him down to the theater, cause he gets mugged. The first couple of times he goes on his own, he gets beat up and robbed. Not good showing up with a bloody nose and a black eye, when being the lead.

Theater folk is superstitious. He’s jinx. That’s what everybody says. I say, he sticks out like a blinking neon sign for disaster. But nobody gives a damn about what a janitor says. So they pay me instead. I get him safely to the rehearsals. Easy bucks, really.

Finally! His brown jacket and red cap would fit any hobo around.

Ira says he’s cursed.

Bullshit! His grave look stops me from laughing my head off. His nervous hands run around his chin and breast to hide in his pockets.

So I ask him, I ask about his bad luck, ready to burst in disbelief. He says, it’s his old man’s fault.

One day, him being a toddler, he wanders off and disappears into the woods. They can’t find him, for three days. They are about to give up, when a huge white crow appears. His granddad shoots that bird. It falls to the ground. They go look for it, and that’s where they find him. Unconscious. Hurt.

He shows me. He pulls down his zipper, tugs his long orange scarf away. His T-shirt slides down, revealing his pale chest.  A small circular snow-white scar flashes on his breastbone. Grievous look settles in his otherwise young face.

I almost fell for that. An actor, I remind myself. He’s pulling my leg. White crow, my ass!

His granddad taints his destiny that day. He says to no one in particular. He can’t fly away from trouble anymore. Ira believes it. He really believes it! I can only pity him for such nonsense. He’s disappointed, I don’t swallow his bogus story.

I offer him a cig instead.

The tortured howl of an engine and shrieking tires roar right behind us.

Entropy and Other Inconveniences

Part 1:  published on WriterToWriters – see here


“Nobody took a dump here.” A scrawl in black sharpie stretched over the upper right corner of the booth door. “SEXXX! Call 314-159-26.” The lower margin of the door warned about the pervy limbo dancers.

Andy cracked a smile and checked for the naked chocolate bar and the newspaper in the inner pockets of his long leather jacket. Someone flushed a toilet two cubicles to the right. He heard the someone leave the public restroom, without washing hands. The door slammed shut. Andy sighed. He squeezed his notebook into one of the butt pocket of his denim. His naked toes felt wet and cold on the tile floor. He took a deep breath. The air was stale, the aroma of urine was overwhelming. He consoled himself with the fact, that in a blink, he was going to disappear from the questionable puddle, he had to stand in.

A whispering sizzling noise echoed from the walls of the stall, and Andy concentrated upon an imaginary spot, half a step away, in front of his navel. A little sphere of pale blue brightness formed instantly. He cupped his hands hovering two inches away from it. The heat it radiated, didn’t disturb him much. Its density grew fast, till the light emitted hurt his eyes. With every breath, it got bigger and brighter. The muscles in his arms vibrated with effort. His fingers tugged at it, his mental fingers dragged, pulled and stretched the ball of energy over his shoulders. The sphere spun counterclockwise.

Andy stepped into the pale blue vortex in front of him.

The bathroom, and the rest of the world at his back folded, and faded to nonexistence. Everything went black. The muscles on his chest and back rippled with tension and fibrillation. His spine tingled and burned, as if his skin had been shock frosted.

At the edge of his visual perimeter, the pale blue light twitched and sparked.

He felt lightning licking and stinging at the back of his head and around his shoulder blades. His fingertips and bare feet stung with electric pins and needles.

He stood in an Andy-shaped hole in the fabric between realities.

Entropy swept over him like a tidal wave, knocking his breath out, leaning on him, pushing downwards. He bowed his head. Submerged in the currents of energy flow, he slid through spacetime layers into lower energy state realities. The torrent caught him in a tight grip around his waist and yanked him down.

He hated this part. The sinking feeling in his stomach froze his mind.

He panicked.

He always did. What if, he got a hypo here and had no strength to get out again? Would he die, or would he be arrested in the terrified state of  just realizing, that he was about to die?

Forever?

His instincts took over. Grab! They ordered his hands. Hold on. His fingers found his daughter’s little praying bead bracelet.

In his imagination a happy family breakfast flared up. Ava buttered a bun for Emily. He was drinking coffee. The pressure that made him bow, lifted instantly.

The breakfast table faded, as he stopped focusing upon it. There was nothing to see, nothing to hear. He closed his eyes. For once, no static filled his head. Calm. Silence. He imagined this was peace. Surely this was, what it felt like. He wanted to stay. Inertia crept closer to the thinking part of his brain. Transition was a bitch.

Peace was not human nature, guilt was. Sickness, decay, futility, death, war and famine were too. Always suffering…

The burning sensation chewed up his limbs, his arms and legs stung. His face hardened into a heavy ice mask. He couldn’t breathe. His eyelids weighed tons, lips sagged. He couldn’t stop shivering. The clench of solid inertia overpowered his bones, his organs, his muscles.

The breakfast table flickered again. It hung in front of him, some steps away, taunting. He shuffled a foot forward. Keep going. Something cheered on.

A strange murkiness pushed into his pores, dissolved into his veins. He felt sick and broken. Entropy knew he was, and caught in his edges, in the fissures of his brokenness. It cooed to the darkness, that sprouted in his body and soul. His heart seemed to transform to a homing beacon to catastrophes and bad intentions. He had no time to brace himself. The rotten blackness in him sprawled. It found all his hiding places and poisoned them. Dizziness tipped him out of position. He spun, but his heart slowed.

He had to keep moving. The gaps between the beats grew.

Sick yellow light shone somewhere in front of him. It flickered like a candle a mile away in a dark stormy night. He tore at the slowness of his body. He tore at the spinning of his senses. His heart locked.

Move.

Just.

One.

Step.

*

He fell to his knees in a moving cargo elevator, between Floor 17 and 18. The air around him crackled and fizzed. The elevator stopped with a sigh and a jolt. The lights flickered.

He shivered violently. Rime coated the walls of the elevator, his clothes, skin, hair, brows and eyelashes.

For a moment, Andy’s arms remembered the shape of his dying daughter. The scent of strawberry shampoo and blood hit him. Memories sank deeper and vanished from his consciousness, as his heart returned to the race. He knew he had the right timeline.

His mouth was a desert. Andy propped his arms on his knees. His lungs tried to breathe, but air refused to get in. The familiar pain burrowed deeper into his spine. No hunger, no cold, no nothing. His heart crawled up his throat.

Normality willed itself back into Andy.

The Greater Good Protocol

The Greater Good Protocol

Part 1 – Safe Atmosphere

part 2 – I’m that kind of guy


 

"Safe atmosphere..."

The safe sign and the notification flash on the screen shield, blink and then fade away. The pressure sensors in the seats activate the engine. Gently purring, the rover comes to life, instruments flare up on the dashboard and project unto windshield. The underground magnetic guidance system pings back on it’s navigation, showing their position on the southern hemisphere of the Moon.

“Great booty, innit?” Terry nudges Larry’s elbow, as they take their helmets off.  Larry, Terry’s twin brother, is paler than usual. His grey eyes scan the inside of the cabin. No Chinese or Cyrillic characters, he sighs with relief. Blue arrows project unto the screen, showing the routes to the nearest landmarks. Tycho Crater is eighteen kilometers away. Surveyor Tycho City is six point seven, and Surveyor Seven fourteen kilometers north-to-northeast. “Lots of bucks.” Terry pats and kisses the console affectionately. He pulls his thin lips into a satisfied grin and straps into his seat. In the knowledge of a job well done, he holds out his palm, and awaits the high-five.

Continue reading “The Greater Good Protocol”

good advice

It’s no fun, being dragged behind a car at breakneck speed.

Just in case you were wondering, or planning on doing it… DON’T!

Half of the time you try to dodge stones and sharp rocks, and you try not to get too close to the tires of the following car, for obvious reasons. The other half, you try not to swallow too much dirt and fumes, so you won’t get dizzy. You have no time to enjoy the view. Besides, it’s most likely, that some moon tanned idiots scream profanities at you; all seven of them at once. This makes it even harder not to damage anything vitally important, like head, neck, spine, hands, or eyes. God of skull integrity, stay with me!

Some of those volume bloated harsh statements about your family and your origin are pure fiction and wishful thinking. Their promises of where which of their and your body parts will go, is mildly off-putting and fly off of the politeness chart. The newly imprinted courtesy protocol in your neural language hub does its best to bleep the sense out of words lodging themselves into your auditory canal. Thank you, universal translator. Well done, courtesy protocol.

So, how did I get myself tied up and dragged behind a car, you ask? Not on purpose. I’m not that crazy, despite the gossip – I swear. It chalks up to being at the wrong place at the wrong time. I’m the odd one out, not fast enough to hide in the nooks and crannies of my gallery, down in sub-level five.

It’s questioning from the lunatics’ point of view. It’s a full grown lynch mob, if you ask me. But no one ever does.

#2 the lion roars

PART 1 – LIQUID PEACE

 

PART 2 – PATIENT PAPER 

The police station was accommodated in an old building, a school from the 19th century.

It took me three hours to get anywhere near Benny.

They had me fill out seven forms, both sides, all identical. The policeman in charge ripped two forms apart, and I had to start again. “Hand slipped.” His comment slapped my ears. This was nothing but mile high harassment. I knew it. The police man knew it, and I tried not to get too angry.

Then they had me write down what happened from the phone call on, till now.

Time delaying tactics. Maybe they searched and bugged my apartment right about now. They must have turned Benny’s upside down already.

 I tried to remember, if there was anything suspicious in my flat, something that could get me in jail.

Nothing to hide…

No political literature, beside what was permitted and encouraged. Some family photos, but I’m the only one left alive, so no danger on that end. No newspapers or magazines, no radio – lucky me. Only cigarettes, coffee and booze and dirty laundry.

Still, they told me to wait.

On the other side of the dirty window, the sky caught fire on the margins. The sun would be up in less then half an hour. Exhaustion burned under my eyelids, like sand. I attempted to close them, it stung like salt on an open wound. I feared my eyelids wouldn’t go all the way down. I pushed with with my fingertips against them. The burn eased a tiny bit, only to be replaced by headache. Benny mattered now most. As soon as I opened them, the artificial light made them water. I had to focus on Benny.

 From somewhere outside, they dragged Benny in, hands cuffed behind his back. He stumbled forward, face pale and bright and full with terror and relief. He was scared to death. From the stains on his clothes, I could tell he had wet his pants.

This was, what a man on death row looks like. Nausea greeted me. God! I had to push that thought out of my head fast.

At first glance there seemed nothing wrong with him, only a split lip. His wet hair stuck to his sweaty forehead. I was three feet away from him. I could reach out, but I knew better than that.

The uniform holding  his left elbow grunted. “He fell all by himself. Clumsy, like a child.” The other man at his right and the policeman, I gave my forms to, laughed. The smell of ethanol and urine hit me. It was a roaring filthy laugh, a laugh you laugh at a salt covered foaming snail, or at a cringing burning spider.

The man on his left pulled a lighter out of his pocket. Benny whined and jerked back as far as he could. I had to swallow hard, clench my teeth, so no reaction escaped me. The uniform at his right lifted his right elbow, forcing him down. His face got close enough to the flame that he could have breathed it out. He did nothing. He just trembled.

Behind me, the slick voice from the telephone harrumphed. The man put away his lighter, and the other uniforms straightened up. Everything went silent.

“So you are friends with Jews and Hungarians, doctor?” That man… The hair on my neck stood on end. Benny’s face fell, he winced. Slowly, I turned around. “Uncuff.” His voice is barely audible, but the uniforms obeyed. Clicks and a sigh could only mean, Benny was free now.

The man leaned with his elbow over a filing cabinet, posture most casual. He was bigger than me, wiry stature. He had broad forehead, a long crooked nose, broken once but healed well and bushy brows. His dark eyes seemed to sparkle with mischief.

From the edge of his lips hung a lit cigarette. Ash clung to the paper. His clothes were elegant, no uniform, coat and shoes handmade. He blew smoke through his nostrils right into my face. I didn’t breathe. Manicured hands, I noticed. Nothing cheap about this man, this was no foot soldier. This was someone, a big someone. This was an intelligent, well educated high ranking officer. He smiled a peaceable smile, perfect teeth hid behind his lips.

This man could only mean trouble.

I steadied my voice. “Only this one.” What a stupid thing to say! My head was empty, there was nothing witty to say.

“Your boss says, you are a capable man. A bit soft, but capable nevertheless. We’ll see about that.” He looks at his manicured nails with interest.

He noded a tiny bit, and the men shoved Benny into my back. I felt him bump into me, grab for my jacket and going down unto his knees.

The man chuckled and waved a hand. “So collect your garbage and go.”

Monkey on the Road – tiger, burning… (3)

Part 1 – The Cold Mountain

Part 2- Tea with Jade and Tiger

The silhouette of San Chou gleams between the three green hills of the southern part of the Yellow River. Like a hungry locust reaches a rice paddy, I reach San Chou, five days after Jade, Tiger and I part at my father’s house. My father is Zhang Dee Yang, the most honored governor of Li Jiang. His high hopes are resting on my shoulders. Jade and Tiger, his friends come along to help me complete my mission.

Dressed like a wandering astronomer, nobody takes noticed of me. I merge with the river of craftsmen and farmers going to the Moon Market in the heart of San Chou. I have no troubles at all. The whole village is busy preparing for the Moon Festival anyway, so no one pays attention to the flood of strangers mixing with the villagers on the streets. Children laugh, dogs bark, horses leave their droppings everywhere. Life pulsates in this seemingly happy village. Nobody knows, that it’s rotting  from the inside, with the poison of the infamous Black Viper, a gang of thieves and murderers.

In the first hostel at the outskirts of the village, I ask for martial arts schools. San Chou has three, the owner tells me. He smiles a polite but expectant smile, so I buy a pork bun and a hot cup of tea.

That’s a start!  The whole way to the village I muse how to infiltrate the Band of The Black Viper. I will find  some shady characters and tell them good fortune, let slip, that danger is around the corner. A big black snake ready to bite them. I will observe very carefully.  I know where to look for shady characters… “If you look for trouble, search for the troublemakers.” That is what my master in the Monastery says. Martial arts scholars have a clear stroke of trouble on them, no doubt about it.

I’m one of those trouble makers indeed. Before my father sent me to Mount Shongshan, I was a no-good, lazy boy, bound to destroy myself and my foster family. I knew nothing.

The memories of my training well up in my heart. I sip the tea and smile at the years on Mount Shongshan. The wise monks were firm, never allowing anger, fear or joy in their scholars. I cannot imagine that my dear teachers were ever able to giggle, to burst into a fit of laughter or shout at someone. The tea tastes mild and refreshing, I bite the soft bun.  The taste of it’s dough fills my mouth. The spicy pork meat swipes away the gentle sweetness around it. What an excellent bun! I think of the constant hunger and the countless hours of hard work and pain in the Monastery, to school my mind. “Character is the silver you get, when you refine the rocks from the mine.” My foster father says, before he sends me away. The last thing he says to an angry little boy, who just stole the horse of a drunken soldier. The horse, he had to kill and replace, because I made it fall and it broke one of it’s legs… I did not know, what he meant with his farewell words. Years later, my master completed what I could not understand with my angry blazing heart. “But first, you have to crush them, then heat them, so they lose their stubborn efforts to cling to their habit of being rocks…”

Master is right, I decide. Troubled souls have an affinity to martial arts. They are attracted to what they think of as an act of violence, like moths to the fire.

The owner of the hostel comes to refill my cup. I ask him for a room, for the duration of the Festival. He seems happy, and he shows me into a tiny room under the roof. “Three days in advance.” He smiles bowing deeply, and I pay making a sour face. He will get greedy, if I do not show, that the two wen he wants hurt my moneybag. Downstairs, I take two more pork buns. I have to take a look around the village.

A little boy, not more than three summers, squats at the entrance of the hostel and looks quizzically at me. Snot runs down his dirty round face, and he sweeps it away with the back of his puffy hand. I give him a bun. His little moonface brightens up, he bites a mouthful, barely able to close his lips, or chew. “Is this what father saw in me? A hungry little runt? Was it pity?” He shoots up to his feet, suddenly with a troubled look. Fear crawls over his smooth forehead, fear that I might change my mind and take back his tasty treasure. With a shriek around the mouthful of bun he runs. My gaze follows the boy running as fast as his tiny feet carry him. He disappears in the shadows between two huts on the other side of the street. At least he isn’t hungry anymore, and nobody else needs to pity him for today.

“You have a good heart, I can tell.” Behind me a boy tugs at my sleeve. “But you are a stranger here, I can tell that too.” I turn around and look at him, eight summers, maybe nine. He is thin, hungry too, not fitting his clothes. He is, what I need.

I will pay the boy three wen to show me around. One coin for each school. I will give him another, for food. San, my guide, walks with me towards the heart of the village. He does not question anything I say to him. He seems to know everybody around… He must be a beggar of some sort. Tiger and Jade are nowhere to be seen, so I start my observations and take notes. San is explaining everything to me. Each school has one active teacher, and one older master. The number of scholars are variable. Southern Fist has eleven boys, Wing Chun has fifteen and Northern Legs has seven.

I try to remember every scholar entering and leaving the school. It is most likely, that the criminals have some sort of training. I will have to ask the masters for drop-outs without attracting too much attention… Or maybe I will ask San, he seems to know a lot about the people living here.

After that, I check the administration. From the outside it looks fine. I send San away with four wens, and make him promise not to steal for today and to hide his coins from the elder boys. “You may come back to the hostel tomorrow.” I tell him, seeing his sparkling eyes. “I might have work for you.” I lie.

Then. I catch a glimpse of Tiger. San sees me. He sees Tiger. I shoo him away. Tiger leans at the garden wall of a house nearby, in a beam of sunlight and throws me a disgusted look.

Where is Jade?  That smile… My stomach falls. Is she in trouble, and Tiger plots something to get her out? Inside me things add up in a bad way. I have to check for myself.

I have a brilliant idea! I go to the entrance of the administration and knock at the door. Truth is a tool, as much as lies and betrayal are.

A soldier lets me in, and I demand to see the high official. The courtyard of the administration is tidy. Busy officials rush from the entrance to the house. The soldiers guarding the house look sharp. They notice every tiny movement. So far so good, I tell myself.

The soldier leads me to a wooden door at the northern side of the building. I’m shown into a small dark room, with one chair and one table. After a minute, a thin old man comes in. His feet shuffle him forward, a cane supporting his unsteady steps. His clothes are richly embroiled. His hat marks him as a high ranking official.

As he sits down, he nods and flashes his complete set of teeth. Only as he indicates with his hand, I start speaking: “My Lord. I am a wandering scholar, an astronomer. I’m here to warn you. A man I noticed on the other side of the street is spying out the administration.” The man shows no reaction. Odd. Maybe, if I speak louder. “I know him from my hostel, where I made a horoscope for him. A truly dangerous and brutal man.” I try and bow slightly in front of him. He indicates me to stop, stands up and shuffles out of the room. Surely, to check my claims. Or…

Four soldiers barge in. Swords drawn. All pointing at me. The man comes back in, with a most satisfied smile.  “So we caught you, Monkey!” He barks a little laugh, and turn towards someone outside. “Call Miss Jade.” This is not how I planned it. “You’ll see that our prisons are as comfortable, as the ones in Li Jiang.” He points his bony index at me and grins.

med bay snippets #1

I look at my bandaged hand in the unnatural green light of the exam room. Nasty… That’s what I would say, if my mouth would do its job. Lips and tongue are swelling and numb. I try not to be too suspicious by licking them. I bet, if you eat a swarm of angry hornets, it would feel the same. Not the regular ones, but the big, Japanese ones, with mean attitude.

Oz is smiling at me, like he always does, when I get into trouble. It’s an equally patronizing and cheering smile, reserved for fuck-ups like me. It’s the smile of a big brother I never had. I’ve seen him do this with his patients too. I can almost hear his habitual mantra.  Unbelievable!

Oz jumbles on his sterile gloves. Elegant trick, how his long slim fingers do the opposite of striptease. Now comes the folding, his fingers clench into a praying gesture. I call it The-praying-Oz.

Hibernation unit. Ate my hand. 

My mangled palm leaks through the bandages. The black stain seeps through the cloth I wrapped around the hand.

I hate this part. The peeling away of bandages, the revealing of hurt, skin, muscle and sinew, maybe bones. The heavy lid traps not only fingers and palm, but the momentum of damage. The will to destroy, the idea to kill needs dear payment. Maybe I pay with more than my blood and my  fine motor skills. My breathing is fast, but not because of pain. I switch my pain sensors off, when I’m about to pull a stunt. To pull a stunt… That’s what Oz calls getting into trouble. Breathing. Fast and shallow, which is a problem. I feel the swelling starting down my throat.

This is bad. I sure hope Oz tries to get me to speak, so he’ll notice. Come on Oz, do your magic! I cheer him on mentally. 

How did you hurt your hand? Tell me!

Oz’s eyes lock on mine. Guided missiles…

I’ll pull the footage afterwards.

They just look like laser guided death on a mission. Thank God, my mouth is out of function, or I might be telling him the truth.

Mffpfen…felin …Ifaf…wetwiiin…it. 

Ah, yes, the perks of drug allergies. Not having to care about the tension in your voice, when you are lying.

My pen is safe, don’t worry about that… Of course, I won’t tell him that I was meddling with the security protocol of that hibernation tank.

I swallowed codeine beforehand and brought a broken ampule. I already swapped it with the one on the table he did not give me, when I stumbled in.

What? Why are you talking so funny?! Epinephrin. Now!  

Oz jumps out of my field of view. Better hurry…

He slams the epipen into my thigh. There they are, the angry hornets with attitude flooding my leg, or is it my lungs? Feels like drifting…

Look at me! Focus!  

I don’t think so….