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.

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.

med bay snippets # 3

Is this one of your stupid jokes, Rains? What do you mean with, “we lost Decker”? He’s hooked to E-bed 2, in quarantine, thanks to you. Care to elaborate? He raises an eyebrow.  I know the doc doesn’t approve that I ripped off the seal. The best I could do, to trigger the alarm.

I shake my head, but plunk down into the seat, the doctor offers me. He pushes a cup of fresh coffee over to me, and glances down his watch. I know perfectly well, that what I’m about to say is… It sounds batshit crazy, even to me.

Look doc, I’m… I don’t know. I – I just – I have to tell someone. Makes me feel less…

Disoriented? Distressed? The doctor offers. I know he means to be helpful. But…

This is a report. I keep telling myself. I have to warn everybody. Doc Wellington has to keep his cake-hole shut. I tell him, before I let the Captain in on this… Whatever this is.

I can’t meet his gaze. Those eyes,  they accuse, they see through, they strip you bare.

I nod and take a sip from the freshly brewed hot dark liquid. My mouth burns…  This is a report. I will burn less, when I talk. I need to get this out of my system.

You know, some hours ago… Down on Chimon, when Decker knocked himself out, and I had to haul his heavy ass back? 

The doctor nods.

I… I think something happened to Decker. Uh, he said some very weird things… Some, uh, really disturbing stuff… I don’t think he was himself.

The man sitting opposite to me,  fixes me with his blazing eyes. Even though I’m not looking at him, I feel two hot spots resting on my cheeks.  As if two wasps had decided to sting me simultaneously.  Just freaks me out. He harrumphs politely, and  folds his fingers into a praying gesture.

Well, delirium is a very strange mental state. He begins explaining, but this is bullshit. But this is not that easy. It can spook anyone. I don’t like how he shrugs. There are documented cases, where people started speaking tongues, even ancient greek or latin… His patronizing smile turns my guts.  And it was a most stressful situation. Acidic taste seeps on my tongue, and I force my stomach back down. I shake my head.

THIS IS NOT WHAT I MEAN!  Not at all. I nearly left him on the surface! I have his full attention now, he leans forward.  I nearly left him on the surface, because he freaked me out. 

The solar storm damaged the engines of the landing pod, upon reentry.  And the com.  I have to admit, the landing was less than optimal, and it’s my fault, that Decker got nearly killed on spot. He kind of rescued me, and got his oxygen tank damaged. 

My hands leave the cup alone and I raise them, palms up. Shrugging palms.

First everything was normal. Well, as normal as being stranded in a volcanic eruption zone on an unstable planet. Normal apeshit crazy stuff.  The man in front of me scoffs.  A sense of humor is always a good sign. That’s what they tell you in the military. A residual coping mechanism, when everything else is beyond repair.

Got him into the nearest pick-up area.  That was when his oxygen got down into the red zone. He said that he won’t survive this, that the drugs aren’t working properly, that something was wrong.  Then… I swallow.  

Then, uh… He screamed! He screamed for three minutes straight. It was, it was , uh nauseating. It must have hurt so badly. He screamed for his mother… I – I-  Oh, God…

Take your time… It must have been hard to listen to a man dying. 

I cannot hold back, to my surprise – I sob.

Uh, he said that he is going to enjoy this. And that I will enjoy this too. He’d make me…

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….

#1 – the lion roars

PART 1  - LIQUID PEACE
Part 2 - PATIENT PAPER

The gutter dripped and the rain drops rapped hard on the kitchen window. My eyes were already open. The bedsheets felt cold and damp. The shutters in the living room rattled with the wind gusts.  I’ve been staring at the dark ceiling for nearly three hours. I sat up. Sleep was busy somewhere else.

Another rotten night.

My mind was stuck in ruminating mode. There was no point in trying to sleep. Heavy rainstorm washed over the town. So thirsty… I tried to breathe. The merry-go-round in my head kept me replaying the last two weeks, pining me to decisions, yanking me back and forth between faces and screams and tears. Decisions that were not my wisest… 

Wasn’t enough. 

I thought of the woman with begging eyes. She came into the ER, during my shift. She had fever, and severe abdominal pain. I guessed her secret right away. Her deep ocean green eyes betrayed her, I could read in them. Everyone could…  That she had attempted  abortion. Bleeding and in pain, she got down on her knees and pleaded. Immediately I got her a bed, and called a trustworthy gynecologist I knew. I trusted him to keep his mouth shut. I trusted that a human life was more important to him than law.

I was wrong.

Nevertheless, I started her on antibiotics and enough painkillers. I refused to make a blood test. If it was positive, she’d go to jail. Maybe she would anyway… If she’d survive, that is… I had Rose, the head nurse, look after her.

I cannot just watch and wait for her to die, that’s what I told her, and that’s what I told the head medic.

He stopped all medication. That bigoted windbag stopped ALL of her medication and I got sent home for a month. Rose tried to calm me down, but by God – I… I.

The oxygen left the room. Two days ago, Rose called. The woman with the begging eyes died. My skin felt dry and hot, like a heat blanket over a snowman.

There was this nagging icy feeling wrenching my guts, that I just couldn’t shrug off. I could use some peace for once – some sleep, or unconsciousness. I could use some liquid peace… I thought of the empty liquor bottles lined up in the kitchen. Vodka was sometimes your only friend. It was a reliable friend. Brushing over my  burning face, my forehead was sticky with sweat.

The phone rang. The sinking feeling sank deeper.

I got up. The cold floor burned  under my soles. I went to the hallway to pick it up, but my hand hovered above it.

Important? Work? Catastrophe? Which is it?

I asked myself. It did nothing to buffer the leaden dread sitting on my chest.

I grabbed the phone. “‘llo?”

“Comrade Hoia?” The stern voice on the end of the line felt like a brick wall I was about to smack into.

“Yes,” I swallowed. ”Who is this?” The man didn’t answer. Statics filled my head. This was a catastrophe, I decided. I heard a pen scratch on paper.

“I’ve got a young man here, a Hungarian Jew. He says, he knows you, comrade.”

Benny… What have you done this time?

Was this police or worse? Securitate? “His name is Benjamin Ekes,” yawned the man.

“Yes.” I croaked. “I know him.” My throat was stinging, I couldn’t suppress a cough. I heard a faint echo of myself coughing. They were recording the call. Securitate it was. My heart knotted.

A big drink, I rubbed my lips, a whole bottle.

“Do you, comrade Hoia?” He paused amused. “Then come and pick him up. Police station.” The man hung up.

“On my way.” I said, listening to the disconnected tone in the line. With every heartbeat it grew louder and louder. I stood in the darkness.

Pull yourself together.

I needed to get going. Who knows what they did to Benny. I grabbed some clothes and spares for Benny, gauze and disinfectant. On a second thought, I called the ER at the polyclinic I work, and had Rose on the phone. At least, some silver lining. She understood immediately what was going on. She said, she’d  had the scrubs ready, if needed. God bless good old Rose, the smartest nurse I ever worked with.

Two minutes later I was on the deserted main road, heading downtown. The rain came down in curtains. My car seemed to be the only one in the whole wide world. I lit a cigarette, and thought of all the peaceful people who could actually sleep. In their beds.

Benny needed me.

And I? I needed a drink, and a month worth of sleep.

 

the onks

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The vicious little thing, that looked like an ordinary eight years old boy, had a rotten day. He had the onks. Gnomes were prone to get the onks, especially  the young ones; and being a member of the royal family did nothing to prevent that. It was bearable in human disguise though, mingling, watching these oafs, and doing little mischiefs was entertaining enough to stand the bad days.

He strolled down the Bridle Path, enjoying the sweet shadow patches beneath the canopies of the trees,  minding his own business, slurping his fifth Vanilla jalapeño tabasco topped tripple Espresso, when a big bright blue man knocked him down hard, spilling his coffee. “BRAT! Look were you step,” the man yelled at him.

Since when dared a man to step on a prince’s foot, knock him over, spill his coffee, call him brat, and expect to get away with it? His eyes flashed red, his back burned, summoning enough magic to vaporize the whole park in one heartbeat.

That would be too easy on the human, annihilation went too fast. Severe punishment was waiting for that man, for more than a lifetime. Something nasty… Nasty… He had a brilliant idea. He snapped his fingers. Clap of thunder filled the air.  The man who jelled at him, transformed into a small pug.

The boy went to the dog. “I’ve always wanted a doormat,” he said, grinning from ear to ear. He picked it up by the scruff and shook it.“Who’s the brat now?” His eyes lit up with magic. The dog yelped and wiggled his little body out of the sweaty electric blue spandex shirt.  It started to pee itself, terrified beyond the capabilities of his little doggy brain; the bulging eyes, and the heavy shorty breathing made the gnome prince giggle. “Now you’re mine! Forever.” The pug whined. “What’s your name?” The dog whimpered. “Fine. Don’t tell me, pug.” The boy plucked a blade of grass and twirled between thumb and forefinger. A long green rope emerged between his fingers, and tied it around the dog’s neck. He put it down and looked at it quizzically, tapping his forefinger to his chin. “Hmmmm… Let’s see. Sit!” The dog sat. “Speak!”

“Hi. My name is Carl.” The dog answered with a yelp of surprise.

The boy grinned  satisfied. “Take that onks.”

Foto: http://xgram.tumblr.com