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.

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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 #17: The Curious Beast

…wherein confounding events threaten everything…

Edonis was understandably irritated when his junior commissioner burst into the room and with bated breath gasped the words, ‘Well, sir, I don’t know how to explain this…’

His irritation turned to consternation when his junior escorted him to the courtyard right outside the royal palace, where a gathering crowd poked uncomprehending gazes at an awkward beast that commanded attention as much as it repulsed. It was unimaginably flat and bulky looking, with no discernible limbs but for snaky coil or belt that rattled underneath it and all around its sides.

For Edonis, the creature’s appearance presented a complication. Having been charged with outthinking the filthy Greeks, who right now were busy building some infernal contraption outside the city walls, his failure to predict this event and worse, his inability to recognize the puzzling creature exposed an embarrassing weakness in his leadership.

‘Where…’ he began to ask.

‘From nowhere sir. It just appeared.’ Came the rehearsed response.

Presently, the creature’s snout swung from end to end and like puppets the crowd cleared away at least two paces from the direction it pointed with each swing. Then something remarkable happened. A most unsettling hiss emanated from the creature, and a bright light blinded everyone within the courtyard. The guard post fifteen yards away was, as if through sorcery, reduced to a pile of rubble along with the guard who had been inside it.

It took a while for relative calm to return to the courtyard after that, but with reasonable efficiency and speed the civilians had been cleared and Edonis’ charges had formed a half-hearted perimeter around the beast, and right then a hatch swung open on top of the beast’s back (or head?) and to the ire of the soldiers around, who should step out from in there but an ordinary mortal man?

 

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!’

Microfiction Monday #13: The Meet.

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…wherein curious meetings take place in the witching hour…

Two men stood in the middle of the park, wrapped by the darkness of night. One was tall and lean, the other conspicuously rotund.

I spotted them on my way home, having stayed late at work, and took my time to observe them from a position of isolation.

The tall man remarked to his friend that the ‘radius of your midsection keeps defying expectations by steadily growing past its cap.

The round man replied that he worried his friend’s closer proximity to the sun would render him inoperative in a few years with a plethora of skin tumors and such.

Both men then laughed a hearty and long laugh before the tall man asked of his friend’s wife. The round man replied that she’d seen better days, but that her ailment had yet to put a damp on her spirits. The tall man explained that his own wife and the kids had gone to their grandma’s and he was fascinated by the unbridled peace and clarity of mind that it brought him.

He then took off his jacket and asked his friend in a most forlorn voice how they’d let their friendship get down to ‘this’. The round man took off his jacket too and retrieved a blade that glinted in the moon’s light and complained that he too did not like how things had turned out and that he would rather prefer to be done with it in the swiftest of manner.

Then the lean man cocked his head to one side and told his friend he suspected someone was watching them. His friend turned and shouted in my general direction, ‘Oy if you don’t mind, we’re trying to settle a private dispute here, so…bugger off now.’

Shivering and shaking from the tension of expectation, I took my cue to retreat to the beckoning comfort of my home, all the more worried about the fate of the two men, despite my knowledge that they would turn back into oak trees by the first light of next morning.

Microfiction Monday #11: Life-Size.

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…wherein the professor advances his plan…

‘I think I’ve finally cracked it Sam.’

The professor said to the silicon bust sat on the study table in his library. The weather outside was dreary and windy but it was not raining, though a storm appeared to be brewing on the horizon. While it didn’t serve as the best set for the professor’s newest milestone in his research, it did, in a manner, reflect the stir that he suspected was coming along with it.

‘What’s that, professor?’ The bust responded in a semi-monotone.

‘Intuition.’ The professor laughed.

‘Intuition, my dear Sam. Everybody else seems to miss this point. Lost they all are in their belief that for you and your likes to be more ‘human’ you have to make decisions that are your own, but the thing is, we humans occasionally make some decisions we can’t quite explain, based on no evidence that we can produce to…to…support it.’ he stuttered from excitement.

‘Am sorry professor, I still can’t quite understand.’

‘It’s…it’s hard to explain. Some attribute it to external intervention from a Malevolent Being, some call it a gift of evolution. Either way it’s indubitably ever-present in o…our lives, like how a mother may warn her child from going on a ship cruise and the ship ends up capsizing. Or how a  businessman may choose to invest in a venture that shows no promise at all even as every other businessman gives it a wide berth and yet it…it proves to be his windfall. We, humans bluff and fluke our way through most things, can’t you see it Sam?’

‘But you say you’ve cracked it, professor?’

‘Five men drafted the Declaration of Independence, three of whom were part of a group of men that were eventually called the Founding Fathers. Can you tell me who these three were?’

The bust stared into the distance in thought, the creases on its forehead growing increasingly pronounced.

‘Um, am sorry professor but I can’t quite remember past Jefferson and Franklin.’

The professor bawled with joy, marching around the room in a guileless victory dance.

‘Memory decay!’ He announced finally, ‘So far, every decision you’ve made has been calculated based o…on the knowledge and experiences ma…my students and I have fed you Sam. But now, now there won’t be any single time when you’ll have an over-abundance of information for you to reason through to arrive at you…your decisions. No no, you are now truly human, s…stumbling in the dark, second-guessing your every step. We aren’t quite there yet my boy, but soon, oh soon you’ll be truly ready to raise hell on earth.’

The professor laughed again, this time his laughter was accompanied by the crack of thunder.

Outside it started raining.

 

photo credit: Universal Studios.