The Commute – 4

The Appetent Operator

Darling dearest,

Time is a vessel, delivering me ever closer and closer to you,

Space is a fiend, taunting me constantly with reminders of our separation.

I’ve found that the most bizarre, the most inspiring – in their own particular ways – of characters tend to reveal themselves in the dark of morning…young illustrious kids trudging along to school, their ABCs and 123s not as easy as had been advertised, werewolves heading the opposite direction to hang up their boots after a hard night’s toil and, of course, this zealous captain who piloted our carriage.

This morning, while fleeing demons only apparent to him, this man put on quite a show. There was the poor defenseless gear stick that he assaulted with such senseless violence as might put a gear stick with less mental resolve in the madhouse. There was the chassis of the bus, which on occasions when it wasn’t five feet in the air, was scraping against the road at speeds of deliver-me-to-my-Maker kilometers per hour.

This man was blind to the law, deaf to our pleas to spare our lives and…er, seemingly medically mute since he communicated with aforementioned demons through nods and shakes of his head.

The last straw came when he drove our bus at full speed through a bump, it took off on a tangent into the air, performed a half-barrel roll, bounced off the road, yes, find any reputable book of records anywhere in the world and I promise it will affirm my word, that this morning, at the hands of a madman a bus on a road I journey on flipped, so that momentarily up was down, bounced off that same road, righted itself and continued on as if all was it was meant to be.

Upon this last act of anarchy, I decided to protest, and was on the point of walking up to the driver to give him a piece of my mind when I was thrown into the roof of the bus by its unpredictable trajectory so that I ran back to my seat humbled.

Grim as it sounds that I thought I might see the end of days in this bus, maybe even that might have been mercy compared to the grimmer fate that awaited me.

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The Commute – 3

The Upsetting Scramble

My dear Delilah,

I’ve always believed the two of us should never be further apart than the wheels of this bus and the road they kiss.

But it’s such a shame we can’t fit into a pea pod, if we tried with might or prayer.

Dearest darling, we stood on that bus stage for ages after the first bus had left. We waited and waited and waited.

And because humanity had outspent the auspices of the sun, which had today thus elected to rise on planets Mars and Jupiter and never on planet Earth, it wasn’t long before frost set in. I had a sudden sobering realization that I could not move my limbs. I tried to remember the last time I had blinked, and between the icicles on my lashes and the paper crisp eyelids judged it to have been so so many minutes ago.

So this is it! This is the end! So I believed it was.

I should make my peace. So I did

Maybe write a will? But I had nothing to will to anyone.

Then, even as I gradually grew comfortable with my inevitable end, a sound came to us hollow and distant. A honking noise, rabid, erratic, on any other day incredibly annoying, but today it was like the call of adhan to a Muslim lost in a foreign country.

It arrived a minute later, blue yellow paint peeling off, leaning too much on one side, some of its windows jammed in place in awkward angles. You should have seen the effect it had on the queue, how quickly the poor frozen humanity thawed and then just as quickly forgot every last lesson of civilized decorum. It was a fight for all I tell you as every man, woman and toddler scrambled after that poor carriage which strained under the new weight.

I made a run for it too before I found myself hurled to the pavement by a lady half my size who then gave me such a feral hungry look I wondered if she was considering how to prepare me for lunch. Marinate him first or, what the heck just throw him in the pan.

Then just as the madness peaked and the bus was nearly toppling over, another bus arrived and soon a whole fleet, and so we all calmed down, looked at each other overwhelmed with shame, picked up our handbags and backpacks and dismembered limbs and fell back into organized files once more and we were soon all comfortably accommodated in one or the other bus. I looked to my side to regard the passenger I shared a seat with and to offer them the blessing of a greeting but who else should it be there, next to me, than that old man from earlier, cross as ever with me.

Thus was there so much discomfort in this ride I took this morning, even as it paled in comparison to what disaster I was being delivered to.

The Commute – 2

The Magisterial Traffic Charmer.

My dear Delilah

Today I vowed to journey to you faster than a mayfly can write a legacy.

I should have known.

Some mayflies live longer than others.

You see there was this man at the bus stage this morning. He was a very spirited man, a hardworking man.

He reeked of some liquor, which perhaps explained why he looked a very happy man.

And between his ‘No Fear’ branded tee from the nineties and the ripped trousers he was basically a half-naked man.

And he was a charismatic man. Traffic flowed at his behest and ebbed upon his request.

He was the people’s man too i think. He paraded the queue at the bus stand ad libitum and any dissenters were put in their place. All he had to do was raise his arms, up high, and get really close and these souls would flee back to the comfort of the collective.

My eyes lie sometimes but on one occasion he brushed against a boy during one of his parades and the boy’s terrified mother frantically scrambled from her purse a syringe and vials of what my short stint as a nurse’s assistant once leads me to believe were vaccines, which she mixed into a cocktail and pumped the boy full of it, then hugged him so mightily I thought he might suffocate.

It might be a tragedy that the man’s sway with people at one point made think him the I-want-to-be-that-man man, but then again a far worse tragedy is going to happen today.

The Commute

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The Interminably Long Queue.

My Dear Delilah,

Every road I take leads to you, every morning, evening and every summer.

But today something terrble happened. Something foul and very awful that will change everything about so many things.

You see there was this matter of the long queue at the bus station i had to contend with. I tell you my dearest Delilah, this queue was hellish. It spanned three abreast,and hundreds long. Strangely enough, it sequenced a member of every culture I can imagine. There was a man and his hijabi wife, followed by another couple with their toddler, all donning matching turbans, all the way down to a mysterious looking old woman with a twisted smile and a milk white scarf whose cult I couldnt quite place. And this sequence as it was repeated itself over and over ad nauseam.

The size of this crowd intrigued me so much that thought I foolishly, given to abandoning foresight, to ask the old man in front of me, ‘Which gate of Heaven do you think this bus pulls up to?’

For that, my dearest one, for my childish kidding ways, I was reprimanded in every tongue available and my parenting brought to question. Then I was banished by the crowd to the end of the queue, which was where I stood already, only now it had the coat of shame and guilt painted over it.

And thus began my commute Delilah. Yet not even this was the worst that happened to me today.

That comes soon after.


photo courtesy: Africa News 24-7

Microfiction #20: Up Is Down

 

Is peanut a type of butter.
What about upside? Is it a type of down?

Stop it with the pointless questions. You won’t amount to much in life if you persist so.

But Kevin never listened. And he never ceased persisting so.

When he got his first job, he questioned why ties had to be so unyieldingly stiff.

He custom made his own ties, from soft material that flailed gleefully in the wind. It was horrible. He would spend the majority of the day pulling it off his face. He had trouble communicating with his colleagues.

But he persisted on, obviously, seeking solutions to his new formed problem.

One day, he finally got it, and like a small child learning to stand, shivering with fear of failure, fear for his life and worse his reputation, he did the unthinkable.

The next day he walked into the office, much to the horror of everyone he met, walking…on his two feet!

It was awkward at first, seeing things upside down. Reading people’s expressions was particularly hard. But over time he found his thoughts grew more lucid, he fainted less and less per day than his colleagues did on average. He soon conducted research to prove that walking upside down improved life expectancy vastly because of the new ease of ingesting food that came with it.

His new antics, originally a source of ridicule, soon earned the attention of the Council of Revered Upsiders who put out the word that he be captured immediately. He evaded capture effortlessly, because his pursuers couldn’t keep up, running on their hands as they were and passing out every few meters.

Legend has it that he outlived his rivals, spending the rest of his days in the woods, persisting in his research and silently inspiring a cadre of rebels like him, at a camp known to a few exclusive where an inscription in a cave wall of him with arms and legs outstretched in midair doubles as tribute as well as proof that he was the closest a man had ever come to flying.

Microfiction #19: Unfit

Something caught in Joanna’s throat. It might as well have been the finger of death how mightily she coughed.

She coughed and hemmed and wheezed and her eyes watered incredibly. Then she coughed some more, forcefully and without apology, until her airway cleared.


Then she cursed her ancestry on her father’s side, out loud. Having done that, she proceeded to curse her ancestry on her mother’s side in most flowery language.


Then she cried for a short minute when she remembered how close she had just come to death. That inevitably graduated to sniffing and snorting the phlegm that blocked her nose.

Then she receded once more to cursing and swearing. She swore by the Christian and Islamic God, and threw in a few deities whose names she remembered.


Then she calmed herself once more, readjusted the headphones on her head, and rasped into the microphone:


‘Asante mpenzi msikilizaji for being patient with me, you’re still listening to the one and only Radio Mwuungwana,…’ While her bewildered colleagues looked on in horror from the other side of the studio.


Joanna didn’t last long in her new job.

Microfiction 18: Jacob and TIM

For the heck of it let’s call this the second half of a two-part microfiction ‘series’. In that case, it would probably be better to read the first part here first before reading this one.

…wherein a scientist is drunk…

Jacob was a man obsessed with balance although, ironically, but through no fault of his, his life had been devoid of it for a while now.

When his ex-wife had strangle-armed the kids away from him that had been the tipping point. He’d regressed from the brilliant particle physicist to an ordinary man married to the bottle. On the eve of the day when his boss would lay him off after repeated attempts to return him to the man he’d once been, Jacob did the unthinkable.

He broke into the facility, commandeered a tank from the yard in the military wing and ran with it straight through the TIM (Temporal Interface Machine) even though it hadn’t been commissioned for human testing for another month.

Drunk as he was, he’d still been aware enough to set the destination timeline to the era of Ancient Greece and just toward the end of the conflict between Athens and Troy and more precisely right before that infamous event with the wooden horse which he’d always considered an imbalance of imagination. He was going to set that right! He was going to bring balance!

Having sufficiently and satisfactorily determined where he had landed in time he proceeded to lay out his afore-engineered plan before stepping out and addressing the crowd.

He had never been a man of linguistics, so he couldn’t speak Greek or whatever tongue these Trojans used. In stead he gestured wildly and with little coordination. He pointed to the tank then to himself and then tapped his finger on his temple. Creature/Machine. Man inside. Think.

One thing he had failed to predict was that once they had seen the sheer power of the machine that they would have wanted to know how the machine worked so they could use it against their enemy as evidenced by the sudden appearance of the sharp point of a spear inches away from his right eye.

Another thing, far worse, that in his state of imbibement Joshua had failed to recall, was that the TIM still only worked one-way and that he was by definition, stuck. In the past. Tipping balance from one side to the other.

Microfiction #16: Swift and Fair

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…wherein the law is preserved…

There was quite a lot of excitement in Lady Millicent’s court that day. The 57 stone mother of three century pups swung her great hammerhead periodically as the case wore on, a far cry from the benevolent manner in which she usually carried herself and through which she had drawn the admiration and respect from her people.

‘So, set me straight on this article Mr Amida, you were performing a Mambo Jambo dance at the marketplace when Mr Japeth here, apparently affronted you and tried to ‘make a meal’ of you, is that correct?’

A lone figure graced the defendant’s row, a self-proclaimed paradise fish who’d journeyed to the town from whence no one knew, whose colors for once were not the only interesting thing about him, exceeded in eccentricity this time by his half-missing tail fin. Any traces of his characteristic pride were missing on the day, and his voice almost quivered as he responded.

‘Well, you see it’s this traditional ritual we like to perform…’

‘It involves some form of jiggling, does it not?’ The Lady interrupted.

‘Yes, ma’am.’

‘Well,  then,’ said the Lady shaking her head in pity, ‘You do realize exciting your person in such a manner creates what the loony science man over there calls an electric field. No matter how noble a bull shark like Mr Japeth here may be, you do realize such an excitement is enough to rouse the killer he works so hard to suppress, isn’t that so, Mr Japeth?’

In the prosecutor’s row, the bull shark was thronged by sea creatures of equal or more proportion in girth or menace, save for the two adorable pups flanking him who were the youngest of his litter.

‘I just don’t know how to explain it, my Lady,’ he reflected, ‘It’s like the devil took over me all so suddenly. I just couldn’t stop myself if I wanted to.’

‘I imagine no one could,’ empathized Lady Millicent, ‘That settles it then, Mr Amida this court finds you guilty of provocation and as punishment will have you relinquish half of your plankton farm to Mr Japeth and his sons for the next full cycle to do with it as they so please. Fair punishment for equal…’

‘But…’ came and went a weak protest.

‘As for your hesitance to comply with the law, the court bequeaths the other half of your farm to the town council for the same duration, again to do with it as they please.’

The blue seas shook with the roars that followed. Everyone was happy with Lady Millicent’s faultless justice. Yet it only worked so long as no one questioned it.

The Order Of The Forgers (A Microfiction Series)

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Part 6: Children No Longer

There was no telling what Sammy would do next while we were at Sensei’s dojo all those years back.

He was the most fearless of us all. He would talk back to Sensei and was capable of enough forethought and agility to predict where Sensei’s infamous Bamboo stick would fall and jump away. During some nights he would sneak to the village down below and bring back meticulously detailed stories of his romanticizing of girls who, going by his account, swarmed him every time he showed up at the village. Better yet, he would bring us a basketful of gulab and other delightful dishes that were specifically on Sensei’s forbidden list.

Today, Sammy is shivering in a corner, his long dirty nails and falling white hair prominent like an admonishment. Life and duty has not become him at all.

‘He is…a Binder…’ his voice cracks as he whispers.

‘I know what he is.’ I interrupt him.

‘Far as…duties go, he is our exact opposite.’

‘I know what he…look, Sammy I need your help, okay buddy? I need to find this guy. I need you to help me find him, and kill him.’

Sammy shakes his head furiously, pulling at his ears and wails, ‘No! No! No! Can’t go back, can’t. Won’t. Can’t go back. Martha, Teo, Frings, dead…Nacho, Ukwe dead, dead. All dead. Can’t go back. Go away!’

‘Yes Sammy, that’s why we need to get you back in tip top shape, so we can go kill this bastard. For them!’

I pull his arm from his face but he shoves me away with such violence and power that for a moment I think I see the fire back in his eyes and am tempted to recount to him his misadventures from his teen years in the hope of fanning the spark. But I hesitate too long and the moment soon slips.

‘Death. Darkness. Can’t go back. Won’t. Go away!’

The Order Of The Forgers (A Microfiction Series)

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Part 5: Villainy

If you are one to indulge in the thoughts of dramatists, connoisseurs of literature and even the intelligentsia who claim to have mastered the art of influence, to have unlocked the working of the human mind, then you are probably familiar with the narrative of a valiant hero standing up to a villainy force that is a thousandfold more powerful than he or she.

He flings me across the room with a flick of his wrist as I rush toward him, every inch of me but my mouth screaming die!

The villain would possess a peculiar set of weapons that overwhelm our hero. On occasion one of these might be an unexpected charm with which he gathers support to himself or completely disarms the hero.

‘Oh hey, hey, hey…am happy to see you too and I like bear hugs as much as the next person…but that would kill us both, remember?’

Maybe that’s the idea. I try to shout but the words choke my throat as my eyes wander to where Sofia lies. He laughs at the message my actions personify.

‘Oh, I like you. I really, really do! Do you want to know why?’

Then, as you would have it, the villain would conflict our hero with a truth that’s often a product of machinations they put in motion a long time ago…

‘You my lovesick friend are a usurper.’

‘I am not!’ I scream back.

‘Oh but you are. “Sealed from mankind, To serve its plight.” You defied the very essence of what you are, just so you could feel loved, ‘he points to Sofia, ‘Blinded by her acceptance to the point where you willingly ignored that you were subconsciously applying your influence on her, manipulating her very thoughts and slowly decaying her will…and emotions.’

‘Liar!’ I scream as I will my limbs to move again.

…or sometimes, only the bare truth, unaltered.

‘Ooh, spicy! I should consider investing in this business of romance, I muse it could amplify my powers too…but you misread me forger. I never speak in vain. In such close proximity of each other, our powers should cancel out just enough to break your influence on her. Maybe now, you would like to hear what she really feels about you?’

Sofia stirs where she lies. She struggles to sit up, the shackles and chains on her arms and legs clanking loudly.

She scans the room slowly to get her bearing. Her gaze rests on me.

‘Who…who are you?’

For one long wanting hearbeat, the answer eludes me.


 

So today happens to be my second anniversary of starting this blog, even though WordPress tells me it was yesterday. I tell you WordPress is beginning to let things slip through his memory, that poor chap.

Now I haven’t figured out yet what annual tradition to carry out on this day (or if there’s even a need for it). But today I’ve decided to publish two posts at once, something I’ve never managed before.

And so, without much further ado, as one famous ‘doctor’ was fond of saying: allon-sy to part six!

 

The Order Of The Forgers (A Microfiction Series)

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Click HERE to read part three!

Part 4: Famous Last Words.

Sensei once basked in the company of kings and monarchs. Word around is he used to be so good at telling jokes, he made a living out of it. That was a long, long, really long time ago. Then something changed him completely. As he described it, something just snapped one day and like a zombie he wandered in a hazy quest of self discovery until he found himself amongst the Forgers.

Nowadays, the only joke he can tell involves a rap across my chest or back with his infernal bamboo hell-stick. But he tells it so well it cracks my ribs every single time.

‘You aren’t taking any of this seriously enough!’ He barks.

‘What’s our motto?’

Under my physical and mental strain I struggle to remember, ‘With great power, comes…’

Pain! Sharp pain sends me crashing to the wet ground.

‘If you quote Spiderman one more time…’

‘You are the real joke here.’ He scolds.

‘This is where the road ends for me kid.’ He says one day, lying on his bed, amid fits of coughing.

‘This is what you need to understand. This is it. This is your life and this is how you die. You will never know love, your abilities won’t let you experience that. You will live forever and then die surrounded by inept irksome students who hardly know you. If that future scares you, you need to choose something else right now.’

‘But sensei, my training…’

‘Your training ended years ago…but you are not ready. I fear you will never be. What’s our motto?’

Sensei is a shrewd man. He wouldn’t pass on a chance to knock some sense into his students even if that included using the dour atmosphere surrounding his deathbed to finally get through to me.

Suddenly, just as it looks like his lights are finally blinking out, he musters some strength from seemingly nowhere, eyes wide like a haunted child and drags me to him by the shoulder.

‘There’s something you need to know…abou…about the Forgers.’ He whispers.

That’s all he manages to whisper.


 

PS: I wish to apologize to everyone who was the following the series for taking too long to post this. As soon as I posted the previous part, I fell sick as a rat who’d spent a night in a cage in a dark room with cat sounds blasting in through speakers and cat odor being pumped into the room through vents. Between that and having to travel twice in a week, I found I’d lost the thread of this story and so it took me a while to recover that.

To make for lost time therefore, I promise to do my best to post more regularly from now one. Thank you all for reading!

Microfiction #15: The Prohibition

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…wherein everyone seeks the same thing…

That morning Sami woke up craving blueberry pie but felt a bit of angst as he looked into his wallet and noticed the five dollar bill.

The lonely octogenarian spent the rest of the morning frantically looking around town for a possible benefactor of his small fortune. The first two of his neighbours slammed their doors in his face when he showed up to donate the sum to them and soon after that the rest closed their shutters long before he’d approached them.

He ventured into town, growing ever more distressed, until by pure chance he came upon a man of the streets, one of the remaining few who’d chosen such a life for themselves. After a frivolous back and forth, reaching a point where Sami almost broke into tears in defeat the man finally accepted his offering.

“ ’Spose I should trade this in immediately.” The street rat grumbled.

Flushed with a fresh breath of life, Sami finally settled down to serve himself a slice of blueberry pie from the nearby food dispenser and sat down on a bench to take in his latest moment of triumph. It was to be short-lived, however, for a young lady appeared from around a corner, every manner of her relaying an innate disruptive nature, walking towards Sami with wide eyes and an impatient gait.

“Am sorry old man,” she grimaced, “They’ll probably sentence you to life for this, but I exhausted my trade-in tokens and anyway let’s face it, you have what…seven maybe ten years left to live?”

With that she knocked the old man out cold with a single punch.

When Sami came to, he noticed immediately the swansong siren call of the moral police drawing closer. His hands instinctively reached for his pockets which he realized with dread were now bulging threefold. He reached into one and pulled out its contents, neat bundles of crisp hundred dollar bills.

“Oh dear….” Sami agonized, “They don’t make blueberry pie in prison, do they?”


Photo credit: WallDevil.com

The Order of The Forgers (A microfiction Series)

 

Late to the party are you? You can still read part one/two here and here.

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Part Three: Darn Them All

Darn all these secret government buildings with their fifty cameras in every hallway or room. Darn them to heck with their keycard doors everywhere.

Give me a lock any day, I’ll have it open within a second. These darn keycard doors, with all their complex constitution and extravagant merriment, why they take me way too long to open using just my natural talents, and worst of all, every effort I put into one of these shaves off a couple of years from my life.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: a nigh-immortal like me worrying about losing a few strands on the grand tunic of life he cloaks himself with, what is he smoking? But you have to understand, a nigh-immortal I might be, am still carved from the rock of humankind, thus do I still dread the end and of course, if I am to carry out my noble duty, it would do us all much good if the blood is still pumping in my veins.

So yes, darn them key card doors, and darn whoever invented them. Darn the fact that I have to break into the rooms where they keep the keycards or knock a few amiable security guards senseless to steal theirs.

But then darn the sight that meets my eyes when I finally arrive at my destination. A man sits on an actual throne in the middle of the dark room, lean as a chicken leg, with a beard long as my arm and not half as charming, sunglasses so dark they could be tiny black holes manifested, a demonic blood-red halo swirling over his head and smoke billowing from his nose and mouth.

And there on the floor, what else should lie there except the limp, chained body of Sofia. The girl, my girl.

Well darn the whole world, because the rage I feel could conjure up the spirits of billions dead and forever doom the living.

Click HERE to read part four!

The Order of The Forgers (A microfiction Series)

 

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Looking for part one? It's over here!

Part Two: The Girl

Her voice carries the softness of a feather on silk.

Her aura is that of a sunset on a tidally locked planet. Perpetual, haunting, notoriously hard to tear yourself away from, as if the key to its liberation lay in the sharing of its imprisonment with others.

I am never in control when am around her. I run away from her only to tumble and find myself reeling back into her arms again.

‘So you can unlock every door in the world, is that it?’ She asks one day.

‘Well, everything with a lock on it essentially, yeah.’

‘With a magical master key?’ She teases.

I sigh. How do I explain this part? Do I have a key or am I the key? Am I a manifestation of a practice or simply its practitioner?

Am I but a sorcerer?

No.

I am not a sorcerer. I am hardly better than your average chemist. Or artist. Why then, if you think about it, your best of writers and artists are mere chemists too. How else would you explain how they affect their audience so? They intrude upon their audience’s chemical composition, causing them to ‘feel’, and laugh or cry, using otherwise lifeless symbols on paper or canvas. So men of art as it turns out, are men of science after all!

As am I. Only I don’t just make the science, I am it as well, but how do you go about explaining something you can’t quite articulate, barely understand yourself.

‘Yes.’ I reply.

‘Cool!’ She replies. ‘Well, what else can you unlock besides doors?’

Your heart and mind, and should I do it long enough I could bend your will to my own amusement if I choose. Maybe then I could be rid of you.

‘Just locks. Am afraid as far as superpowers go, mine’s not that glamorous.’

The Order Of The Forgers (A microfiction series)

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Part One: In Deplorable Company.

‘This is a secured government building. How did you break in?’

He’s in full control of this conversation. It ebbs and rises as he sees fit. He alternates between using his tongue or his fists to communicate. I in turn respond well within my disposition with silence, grunts of pain or the occasional insult against his mother. I’ve crossed paths with men of his ilk before. I’ve been through worse than him.

The conditions could have been worse, of course. Not to say I enjoy being suspended in the air with my arms clamped and chained to opposite walls of the room, and a cup of coffee would have been nice too, but I’ve been in worse positions. One room I was exiled in once, I stretched my hand before my eyes and could not see it. When people talk of purgatory, I remember that place.

This place, it’s nothing. This man, he will tire. They always do. He does, and he leaves.

That’s when I whisper to my arm, ‘Mif-tahun.’

There are exactly seven hundred and twenty nine locks in this entire building. I can feel each one of them, but right now I need to focus on just two.

The process has always been painful, it’s never not been, but I need to be rid of these chains.

It stings.

It burns.

Then it gets worse.

In my haste, I drop my newly acquired key. It clinks mockingly as it kisses the floor, then rolls away and disappears into a drain in the floor.

I swear in exasperation.

Right then, let’s try that again.

 

In case you're wondering, Part Two is over here!