The Days of The New

                The advent of sleep hung on his head. The lack of stimulants stumbled across his tired body. Illness plagued his chest and back. The pain of suffocating slowly lingered. It was not the night of nights and he was sitting across his blank screen. He was waiting for something to emerge from the mesh of words that crisscrossed his thoughts ever so quickly. Mumbling musings of an old tale, he could keep himself in this state for eternity. There was nothing to attend to.

She came up to him sleepily from the bed. Taking the time to give him a loving embrace from the warmth of her bodice, she kissed him on the cheek as the cigarettes burned endlessly on the ashtray beside him. Once more, she whispered in his ear the words that would always convince him to leave the illustrious state of dullness. The gray walls echoed the flawed words of the music that emerged from the speakers of the computer.

“It’s all the same. Once again.”

He kissed her back, slowly taking the time to lock lips with her. There was no tongue for it was sweet and not passionate. It was bleak but not meaningless. It was soft. She understood his state, so close to an epiphany of sorts that would eventually cause him to write another masterpiece. Disturbed by the physical realm of reality, his link to the alternative mental truth was severed.

It was another day, another musing, another mindless run of the mill scenario, another empty passing of time and life. Breaking from a habit that emerged every year, taking up the three months of the hottest of the season, it was never quite the same each time. Each time, a longing progressed into his soul, and yet, he wanted the new. He wanted the new, but never stopped wanting the old.

How did she know him so well? He never wondered past the question. He just enjoyed it. He just loved her, regardless. It was not strong, nor was it too timid. The perfection of it all waned reality such that he believed that he did love and at the same time forgot how to. Such was the perfection of the situation.

Another change of music, another change of scene, another change of life’s lessons, another change of dreams. A fling of jealously for comrades who progressed far into the future, while his being was of the past, rendered in the present, and only developing slowly into the near future, kept him at bay. He wanted to move up the ladder; fast. It was impossible due to the constraints of certainty, but nothing was impossible when done out of love. He did it for love.

Fingers poised at the keys, he typed out his work, his heart, his passion. He brewed it from the depths of the empty nothingness that kept him awake at night. He mixed it in with the slight sweetness of life’s little joys. All held together by the porcelain walls of text, the recipe was just right. There was no creamer to soften the strength of the piece. There was nothing to soften the blow of the veracity of existence. Verily, the facade was no more a veneer of human narcissism. Emerged in the black mixture was the visage of life. It was all quite real to the taste however perpetually false to the flavour. Bitter.

“Welcome back.”

She whispered as he joined her upon their bed. The chamber of thoughts locked away once more. He kept it safe, hidden, and would only expose silhouettes in the form of words. The sun was nearing its incumbent return to geographical vision, and he closed his eyes. His arms wrapped themselves peacefully and lovingly around her warm body. She huddled in, savouring the vibrant act of love. It was a good night for her, as it always was, being loved by him. It was never a good night for the writer, kept awake endlessly. He laid himself there, eyes open, in thought. There was no sleep for his mind, yet there was peace in his heart. It was a good night for his soul.

Good for change. The guitars sung them a song that granted him a well earned, and hard pressed moment of sleep. The fresh daylight hours had finally arrived, bringing about the false promises of productivity. He could scream out in a frenzied calm, alas he did not. He slept peacefully in the hopes that tomorrow was a fulfilled promise of beauty. Never was it so hollow.
*Inspired by the band “Days of The New”

(c) Anachronic Works 2013

Three Steps Below

STEP 1: Motivate

“It was a dark 1998 night as I recall; nearing the December nativity scene, filled with little children playing around the parks and watching out for Santa’s sleigh or simply the food in their homes. A nice sweet meal you know, Noche Buena, laid out for the family, groups of people flocking to one family member’s house just to eat some of that sweetened Christmas ham.

“I’d remembered wishing for a bike for Christmas. Not just any bike, but the bike that I’d wanted so much; The Stumpjumper. We were well to do, and honestly, I doubt I would not have received my bike; I was a good little boy, mommy. I was good this year. Nevertheless it was something straight out of a movie, what happened, that fateful Christmas Eve.”

Croix Flores said, lighting a cigarette. The rich smoke dissipating before him, the slight hints of dried smells reminded him that he was smoking Marlboro’s. He hated them; one could see it in his eyes as they pierced mine through the smoke.

“Fuck. Ya have a Pall Mall, there, bro?”

“Here. Now, shut up about the cigarettes and tell me more about your fucked up shit, you goddamned son of a bitch.” I said, tossing him my pack of cigarettes. I’d already lit one up. It soothed me as I continued to listen to his testimony. We were on record.

“Alright. Now, where was I?” He said, placing the cigarette conveniently on the crease in the ashtray on the edge of the table. There was a glass of clear, cold water resting next to it, untouched.

“Christmas Eve.” I replied impatiently, blowing smoke from my nostrils like a bull, ready for the red flag.

“Oh, right. Anyhoot, it happened. A riot, for one of those labour unions tore through the small suburbia where I lived, just outside the streets of Paranaque. People were on an inhuman rampage, for some petty thing I can barely remember. The blood filled the streets, people were wailing, people were crying, people were dying right before our very doorstep. My father, bless his soul, had ordered all the doors locked. The maids, or as we in my homeland would call them, “Ya-ya’s”, followed the order, however, had failed to secure the back door in time. The riot had spilled into our house. My father took his double-barrel shotgun and began to fire at the rioters wielding knives and the local version of machetes; the “Itak”. It wasn’t enough. They’d gotten into our kitchen, and they had picked up one of the plastic chairs, flinging it at my father, causing him to drop the shotgun. They began beating him, and the others began harassing my mother.

“I was only seven. I’d picked up a kitchen knife. In a rush of anger and fury, I’d stabbed one in the back; the one that was on top of my mother. He turned around to face me, shock surging through his body. A deafening cry came from his lips and I silenced it by stabbing his gut. He’d later be declared dead on arrival by the ambulance that arrived through our doors. They saw and began to approach me; that was when my father, with no one left to hold him down, picked up the gun, and shot the one nearest me. The blood hit my face, and it felt great. The warm liquid of life felt good against my face. The others scrambled at the sound of the oncoming police car’s “wang-wang” as they called it. My father lay there, resting, relieved that the family was safe. My mother embraced me tightly.

“Now, you may say that’s fucking irrelevant, by your standards but let me tell you something.” He said pointing a pair of fingers at me, his cigarette lodged between them. His other hand was cuffed to the metal table, which was screwed to the floor.

“It stirred something in me, man. It really did; all the gore. I needed it. I wanted it. They’d kept me on pills for that, but somewhere along the line, I discovered cigarettes. A cheaper alternative, but it was good enough. Halfway through college, another riot came. This time, my parents never made it out alive. It was during the elections, and that was when I began killing again. I’d killed seven people in that riot. Someone from a local gang called “True Brown Style” saw my potential, and since I had nowhere to go, I accepted the offer. I was paid for my services, and soon enough, I left them because others needed me on international shores. The pay was higher of course, but the jobs were more complex, just the way I liked it. It gave me a professional sense of myself, a philosophical and necessary job in any society of humans, regardless of time or place. I became a PMC, in essence, but more profound; an assassin.

“You remember the 2016 elections for your country? I was the one that killed Sarah Palin. I’d gutted her 20 miles off the eastern seaboard, letting her innards spill into the sea. She was in shock, and I tossed her near-lifeless body into the pits of the ocean. I was paid by the millions for that job, and of course, I had a crew of 7 with me; all of them working menial jobs, right under the world’s noses. Take it from me, you’ll never find them.” He said, stubbing out his cigarette.

“Trust me, Flores. We will. We found you, didn’t we?” I replied, flicking my cigarette butt at him.

“I wanted you to. I need you to deliver a message.” He said calmly in his seat. I’d walked out of the room, a slight tinge of fear in my gut. Going over to the other side, where some of my fellow officers were observing, I placed my hands on my hips.

“They’d want him back in action; his employers would definitely not let him go. Sarah Palin with 7 others, that’s got to be a new world record in criminal study.” I said, feeling up my Ruger SR40.

“Yep. I want him on maximum security detail. He’d just admitted to the murder of Sarah Palin, and we’ve got him in our clutches for the death sentence.” My commanding officer, Ram Marino replied. I pulled up another cigarette pack from the nearby cupboard for electronics.

“Keep talking it out. We’ll get more what we need from him, and soon, we can pin most of the political murders to him. We’ve got the “circumstantial evidence” and he’d just given an open admission to the crime. We just need a few more, and the name of his employer.” The other man replied.

“Nightingale?” I asked.

“Yes.” They replied simultaneously.

STEP 2: Demonstrate

I took my leave, exiting their room. As I walked towards the door to Flores’ room, the janitor nodded to me, smiling as he began mopping the hallway floors. It was time. He passed me, dropping something in my hand; a small, handcuff key. I entered the room. I realized as I opened the door, that I nearly blew the whole operation out of proportion by mentioning the Tier 4 code “Nightingale”. I wasn’t supposed to know about it, I was only Tier 2. They could’ve been on to me from that very second. I’d never know.

“So, Flores. How do you suppose I bargain with you for more information? Say, a shortened sentence? I could give it to you, but I need that information. I could give you a day, maximum, since everyone else is after your head, bro. When will you come to a decision?” I asked, placing my hands on the table, near him. His hands reached mine, clasping them tightly as he replied with a faint whisper;

“Now.”

He took the key from the palm of my hand, and unlocked the cuffs. I’d swung open the door, and tossed him the silenced Colt 1911 Compact from my ankle holster. As I began attaching the silencer to my weapon, I saw that he’d caught the 1911, and without hesitation turned to shoot the two I’d spoken with in the adjacent room. The janitor had already pulled out his silenced Colt SCW, and began shooting suppressive fire down the hall with a 6 pack magazine bandolier slung across his back. He shot away from the stairwell, using the open door to our room as cover. Sure that the two in the opposite room were dead, he picked up the Pall Mall pack from the table.

Croix and I, using the janitor’s push-cart, which was modified with DragonSkin, had worked our way through towards the stairwell. He had fired all but the last bullet in his magazine, and I had already unloaded three magazines. The janitor had begun popping smoke grenades and switching places to cover for our retreat towards the stairwell. I had picked up the extra homemade Sten Mk2. silenced sub-machine gun, and began unloading the rounds down the hall. Flores had gotten the small tactical pack containing his change of clothes from below the place where the Sten was located. The janitor had taken a few hits, as planned. He wouldn’t receive his part of the cut, and the only way to certify Croix would get his money was to have me call our employers accordingly. We had begun our descent down the 9 floors.

The sounds of silenced guns were blazing above, in the smoky fury; the agents had begun to kill each other, thinking that they were killing a multitude of enemies. Somewhere on the fourth to the last flight of stairs, they’d realized their mistake and had begun to chase us down the stairwell.

STEP 3: Motivate Again

“You know, Croix, just a heads up. I’m giving up my job and good position for this. I know your employers pay you well, but they’re sure to pay me, right? We’re buddies, right?” I asked, as we bolted down the stairs, with me shooting at the oncoming agents; my former co-workers and friends.

“Yes, my friend. They’ll be sure to pay you as long as you follow your instruction package to the letter. With me, I don’t need to, since they know how I work. Your story is a different one… A completely different one.” He said, pulling another Pall Mall as he calmly, but briskly kept the pace. He changed his clothes with the small pack he took  from the push-cart.

As I turned around on our last flight of stairs, he reached into my pocket for the lighter, as he said, and took it. Walking down a few more steps I noticed something was odd. My pocket felt oddly lighter than expected, and as I fired one last load of bullets from the magazine at the enemies above, I checked for my cell-phone and the last extra magazine.

I had turned to face him as he pointed the 1911 at the point-blank centre of my chest. He was holding my phone and the extra magazine. I pointed the Sten at him and he simply winked with his insanely happy grin in reply, pulling the trigger.

I fell to the ground, letting go of everything. With a .45cal bullet in my chest, pain began surging throughout every part of my body. I didn’t even notice the bone-breaking fall down the last flight of stairs. He’d walked calmly, reloading the Sten and firing it blindly at the agents above us. The shells hit my face and I’d blinked several times, adjusting to the surroundings. He stood above me, smoking the cigarette, flicking the ash at my open wound. He dropped the phone and crushed it under his boot.

“You fucking idiot!” I tried to scream, but my voice was coarse and wheezing.

“Now we’ll both never get paid for this. You wasted all our time, effort, and money, man!” I tried screaming at him as he put on the pair of contact lenses and the shades that were in the pack as well.

He checked the pack and found another 2 smoke grenades. Pulling the pin off of one, he tossed it upward, causing the smoke to disorient the agents once more. Checking the hidden pouch for another pistol, he found another 1911. Placing the extra magazine I had given him earlier in the pack, he calmly searched for the alcohol. Taking the bottle and spraying both our guns and my open wound, he lit everything up, including the bottle itself, with the lighter. I screamed as he stomped the flames on my chest out.

I rolled to the side, pain doubling in intensity. He snickered as he put the baseball cap, from the pack, on his head. Finally finishing up with the pseudo disguise, he began his descent out into the open world where a silver, DragonSkin covered, Mercedes was about to pass for us. With all the energy my torso could muster, I forced myself to utter the word; “Why?”

“You see, my friend, movies are movies and the nature of killing another human being is actually, very unpredictable. Even detectives have a hard time with every single case. Now, what you failed to see, with me, my friend, is this; “I do not kill for money, I kill for the thrill of killing, and that’s what makes a man like me, dangerous.” I never really did it for the money. I did it for the sake of doing it.” He said, tossing the empty gun at my feet and opening the door as he walked into the blinding sunlight of the open street, three steps below.

DISCLAIMER:

* Any references to real life people, places, things, and events are fictional and are for entertainment purposes only.

*  There is no intention to badmouth, infringe upon any rights, or give a bad reputation to anyone or anything (particularly cultures, ethnicities, and etc). This is just fiction, for entertainment.

For Kyle Flores, my close friend.

(c) Anachronic Works 2013

So I Had A Reason To Die

     He worked hard. It’s been long, and almost too long for that matter, but finally after years of dedication to his task, after all the research, after all the trouble, chaos, ups, downs, and everything in between he had finally completed it. Some of them called him crazy, some of them called him a fool. He’d lost several lovers and loved ones to this tragically chaotic nightmare of a reality. He had lived through the loss of so much that he knew that life was no longer worth the wait. They’d grown tired to the death of hearing his troubles and sorrows. Was it too hard to lend an ear to a colleague, much more a lover, or a relative? All his loved ones had departed in various ways and now he was alone. Once more in the silence of his lips he screamed his mind, but not for long. What was the point of life, should he simply live without creating so much as a minute mark on humanity, much less his own loved ones? Soon it would be over. He needn’t wait long. Not for long.

     It was there, at last. A fully grown creature. It was so familiar that it surprised him to see the minuscule differences he had never seen before. He, himself, had scars now but this strange Figure that stood before him didn’t. It wasn’t alive long enough to live throughout the lonely hell he had been through, and hopefully It wouldn’t have to. It didn’t have loved ones just yet. No one to hurt and no one to hurt him, with the inborn human insensitivity. No one to lose and no one to lose him. Completed, and perfect, with all it’s imperfections and all it’s lack of grievances. It was hard finding a surrogate mother for this creature; this Figure. She’d have to give her own life to create this abomination of science and humanity.

He was surprised when she accepted his offer. Out of so many candidates he’d extended the offer to, including some of his closest friends, she was the only one who accepted. A distant acquaintance, not even a friend, would devote herself to his work. Grateful for it, he would take care of her; feed her, clothe her, and let her live around the lab for quite some time, until the birthing. A courtesy, at least, or so he would say. Just until the birthing, then she’d be gone. It started simply, the two of them consistently working around the laboratory; she helping him with whatever she could. She wasn’t a genius, but he didn’t need one. He just needed a surrogate. She’d often times cook for him as he furiously masturbated, collecting samples of himself for testing and improving. When he wasn’t masturbating, himself, he would have her do it in front of him, as to achieve the perfect combination of sperm and egg. She was religious with regards to her tasks. Then came the time and throughout the insemination, he held her hand. Soon enough, the months flew by, and he took care of her. Every nitty-gritty need and want, he provided. Before she’d die, it was only decent for him to at least make her life a little more happy. A courtesy, at least, or so he would say.

     She did, of course, die. Giving birth to a fully grown man wasn’t exactly the easiest thing to do on the planet. Nevertheless, he took note of her efforts and sacrifices; meticulously jutted them down into his notebook. He did this because nobody loved him, enough, at least. Nobody cared, and he wanted to pass the bill up, to someone who he knew for sure, could handle things a lot better. That seemed a logical a reason as any. A few genetic tweaks solved this issue, although the allotted time it took for such was years. It was maddening. His funds which supposedly came from the University and Scientific Community, although meant to be devoted to science, were merely devoted to his own selfish pleasures. Not that this Figure was no feat of science but he had it all planned out. No one was to know what occurrences had truly transpired. They were merely going to be informed that the Project had failed, along with the surrogate mother. Soon this would be signed off as another top secret scientific failure under Government Files to be stashed away into the dark abyss of their storage, just as he was going to be, soon enough.

     It was almost finished. All he needed to do now.was to wake the Figure. Placing a hand on the It’s shoulder, he shook it a little, waking It from It’s preliminary slumber.
     “I made you. You already know this. You know what to do, and you know how I did this. You are me, and I am you, but I must leave this world, because there can only be one of us left. You know why I did this. A simple reason, a simple solution that took long to achieve. I made you, so I’d have a reason to die.”

     The Figure nodded, and took the scalpel from the nearby table. He smiled, a tear in his eye, as the Figure slit his throat. The blood gushed, soaking his lab coat. He knelt down, as the Figure held him in a bloodied embrace. The tiles were now covered with a puddle of life and death. The birth and demise simultaneously occurring. It was the magic of science.

Just before he drew and exhaled his last breath. The Figure spoke, a small set of sentences. Five to be exact. Just long enough for him to hear and understand It’s perspective on all of this. Just long enough for a quick lamentation before his departure.

“My dear Father, you have forgotten to see, that your supposed lack of love was merely life’s trickery. You failed to see, Father, that the love my Mother had for you was tremendous, such that, she would have given birth to you, yourself, sacrificing her life, if only, to please you. I know, dear Father, that this is a mistake that I will not make for you have born me well. I am your spawn, Father, I am you. Thank you.”

He closed his eyes, exhaling for the last and first time. The Figure stood up, soaked with the red life that his Father had neglected to appreciate. Looking around, It saw the predicament, and though It knew that there was someone out there to love It, It couldn’t help but cry for the loss of the man who loved himself too much, such that It was spawned out of hatred and contempt for this world; this reality. It lost the only man it would ever love. That was the It’s reality, and slowly, It began to slit It’s own throat. The blood once more filled It’s chest, It’s small piece of undergarment clothing, It’s legs, then the floor. It would all be over soon. It needn’t wait for too long. Not for long.

(c) Anachronic Works 2012

Hard To Find

It was her devilish smile. He’d caught a glimpse of her as she walked through the door, the afternoon sun and the spray of the open wind from the beach birthing into this cafe a goddess, of sorts. Her red trench coat stood out, instantly catching the eye of many a man. The cafe’s door chime rang as if announcing royalty, simultaneously, her red stiletto heels clicked as if calling each man’s attention. She hung her coat, revealing a rather obscure orange dress. Bright colors weren’t exactly his thing, but hey, who would complain when the colors were accompanied by a nicely pressed body. Looking down at his horizontally striped red and white shirt, he checked if he was fit enough to talk to her. He could almost see his bones rupturing the cotton fabric of his long sleeved shirt. Adjusting his peculiarly circular glasses, he stood up, scratched the hair underneath his, also peculiarly striped, bonnet. He gazed at her as she sat there by the counter, ordering her drink. It was a coffee shop, after all, and there was nothing to feel relatively uneasy about. He picked up his bag; he could always simply disappear into the crowd, should his dignity be compromised.

“Hey, there, ma’am. You seem familiar. Have I seen you somewhere? In a film? You look like someone I’ve seen in a film. I, myself, characterize myself in books.” He spoke with his squeaky voice that shook. He sat down next to her, dropping the messenger bag on the floor. There she went again, flashing her devilish smile at him, as she turned her head away. She slid the ashtray from her end to center between them, followed by her pack of Pall Malls. Offering him a cigarette, she took one from the pack and lit it. He took one.

The wind from the shore blew into the open-deck cafe, swinging the chimes and curtains. The aroma of saltwater and coffee proved an excellent conductor for the interaction of two people. Such was the case at that moment. They let a little silence pass, as they took the drags slowly, staring out into the beach ruckus. Children playing, seagulls flying, and all sorts of poorly chosen items filled the sand, and there was barely a walkway. Several people sat on lawn chairs, reading, and there was a group that played Frisbee. Above the clutter of life further down towards the shore, they sat, with subtle jazzy music emerging from the speakers of the cafe. As the moment passed, she turned and finally deigned to talk to him. He had been waiting in disturbed silence. She turned to face him with her legs crossed, and leaned forward, revealing a little cleavage.

“I am Carmen San Diego, and you are?” She puffed smoke between her Latin accent.

“Wally, or as some people call me, Waldo, Odlaw.” He said, taking the lighter.

“So, why is it you’re here, talking to me?” She played a subtle, yet distinct pout.

“Why does anything even happen?” He played a smile that seemed bittersweet.

“Avoiding the question, changing topics, and you left your drink on the other table. You like me, don’t you, Mr. Odlaw.”

“Well, someone’s full of herself.”

“Well, that just proves it. I am right.” She said, using her cigarette to accentuate the point.

“Just because I said certain things in that order, doesn’t mean that I have a hidden plan of sorts.”

“You just keep making this harder and harder for yourself to disprove.” She said with a wink.

“Alright, so you’re right. What of it?” He said, dropping his hands calmly on the tabletop.

“Let’s cut the verbal foreplay here, huh?” She said, uncrossing her legs.

“Alright.”

“You have, more or less, until the end of that cigarette stick to make me like you. If you fail, you’re gone. No second chance. Deal?”

“Deal.” He said, taking a very deep drag that finished most of the cigarette off.

“I have a feeling you’re a tough kind of girl to find.” He said, stubbing out his cigarette.

“I feel the exact same way about you.” She replied, stubbing out her cigarette.

(c) Anachronic Works 2012

Let The Rain Run Its Course

They let the rain run its course around their intertwined fingers. It soaked them, their clothes, their hair, her glasses, and his goatee. He wore a pair of torn cargo pants and simple t-shirt top that referred to an obscure band name and she wore a doctor’s uniform. He smiled as he listened to her stories, and incessant blabbering. At some point, he would laugh and say something vaguely interesting to relate to her story before she’d switch the topic again. Fickle… It wasn’t derogatory, it was bubbly; charming, really… At least they wouldn’t run out of things to discuss. Not that the world has a limit to that, though. The interest didn’t wane, to say the least. He’d wait for her to smile, whenever she’d figured something new to discuss. Sometimes he’d wait for her to slow herself down to a halt, noticing his lack of words. Then he would smile, and she would mouth the words “I love you.” Winking to him at times had his grin grow wider. He would reply, in turn, saying the same thing, this time with added vocals, to break his silence. They were slightly amused by the ironic reciprocity of actions.

 

They never let go, throughout their walk. Their hands were firmly held, apart from the rare times when she’d use a little action to help elaborate her idea. She would always shift around, though their hands were locked. Her fingers would often times extend, as if revealing her palm, and then return to their original hold. Other times, she would squeeze his fingers, which seemed to move only because of her hands actions. His entire arm seemed lifeless once he’d clamped on to her fingers. Wherever she moved her arm, his arm followed. His figure depicted contentment, as if he’d been doing it for a while now. His body movements did not reveal any anxiety to the situation. Hers on the other hand, seemed hyperactive. Their and bodies still synchronized well.

 

I watched them as they walked along the road, from distance to distance, talking and walking. They did not seem to see anybody else, but they seemed to see everything. I walked towards them, and soon enough, passed them, my eyes never leaving the sight. The gray clouds matched the colour of my smoke, and I finished my cigarette, finding some solace in the distraction that was the two lovers. I was walking towards the bus stop, heading home to meet my own sweet lover. Flicking a little ash off of the stick, I took in another drag from my slightly wet cigarette, looking back and eyeing them still, as they left my field of vision; heading towards the main road. I turned and flowed away. Let the rain run its course.

 

(c) Anachronic Works 2012

Bus Stop 47

As the tide rose and fell from the shore, off the beach, the road was empty. The rainy season always brought the public farther. The small Parthenon of a bus stop stood above the background in a small but shimmering light. Lightning always made it look scary to the children who would wait there just to get home. The small light that made it visible to the bus drivers always flickered, casting disturbing shadows against the vulgar images that lined the plastic advertisement walls that never lit up. The seats were made of cold metal, the dotted kind, and were almost icy in the late September rain. There was a storm looming off the coast, the local newspaper read, as it lay on the moist seat, absorbing the liquid. Across the street, small buildings lined the blocks, revealing endless shadows of people across the distance. Further back were the city’s larger buildings, a district of vice, a system of lights, and a cement land that stretched far across the eye, yet made a simple dot upon the map. New York at it’s finest.

Picking up the pace, a mother and son walked towards the stop. She was holding up an umbrella, trying in vain to secure her unruly son. The boy was nearing his teen’s and yet, he acted as if he were a little child, pulling away at times, dodging raindrops to the tune of his heart’s desire.  Taking time off to rest, the mother sat her son down on the bench, handing him an iPad to play with. This was her usual ritual, ever since her husband had left her for another woman. Work, pick up the boy, and commute home. The mess of life was what it was then and now she was determined to find courage and push through it.

A man stood across from her, as she closed the umbrella, shaking it to lessen the amount of water that had accumulated on the nylon surface. He smiled at her as he lit his pipe. It was strange for her to see such a well dressed man at this hour, checking her wristwatch to be sure it was 9pm. He was wearing a hat, to match his black coat that was moist from the rain. His black and white leather shoes were covered with mud or sand from the nearby beach-like area, and it seemed as if he had just taken a walk. He doffed his hat and spoke,

“How sad, the children of today, lost in a world of screens and sharp tunes. Always on the phone, they will never know the joy of a simple walk in the park.”

She hesitated, wondering  if he had simply spoken to himself. He turned to face her son, and watched with a smile and a light chuckle at the boy’s distracted state. She steadied herself, ready to fend off the man with her umbrella should he try to take the iPad. She had saved up a whole 3 months worth of salary for it and she wasn’t about to lose it. He glared at her sweetly with his green eyes, his face partly covered in stubble. He smiled. For a man who seemed to be in his late thirties, he was quite handsome.

“Don’t worry, I won’t take it. I have no use for such an uninteresting device.”

Summing up some courage to speak, although she knew she was at least ten years younger than he was. Aggravated by the man’s judgement of her use of 3 month’s work-pay, she opened her lips,

“What do you mean uninteresting? I’d bet that device is capable of doing much more than you, sir.”

“Still, a human mind is more capable of coming up with more suitable ideologies for this world.”

“What do you mean?”

“What do I mean?”

“Yes. What do you mean?”

“I mean, that, with such a seemingly smart boy, there, he would be more capable of at least entertaining himself without the use of the device.”

“Well, he isn’t. Can’t you see, he has a problem with his mind?! You don’t have to judge him!” She raised her voice, gesturing towards the boy who was still undisturbed by the awkward conversation.

“Forgive me, I didn’t mean to offend.” The man said, taking a puff from his pipe. The small flames drew the sides of the pipe clearer, right before fading away again into the black pit.

“Alright, but don’t you go judging people just cause.”

“Indeed, I am not one to judge. I merely implied that such a device would be a waste for a blossoming child’s brain. However, in any case, I had caused you offense, I sincerely apologize.”

“Hey, you’re the one in the corporate world here. We’re all working stiffs, trying to pay bills and living off our mundane jobs.  Judging by that suit, you look like you’ve worked in a bank or in some law office somewhere. I’m a single mom, and this boy here’s all I’ve got, now you just shut up about him!”

“He who speaks without modesty will find it difficult to make his words good. Confucius. You, my dear, had just judged me after you claimed it wasn’t proper to judge.”

“Well…”

“When anger rises, think of the consequences. Again, Confucius.”

“Alright. I’m sorry.”

“Forgiven. However, would you indulge me, please, in some light conversation?”

“Well… Alright, but as soon as the bus gets here, we’re out, okay?”

“Agreed.”

“Good. Now, what do you wanna talk about, anyway?”

“Well, you’ve opened up the world of business in our conversation, let’s start there.” He said with a sweet smile. The pipe was still smoking as he opened again.

“All things truly wicked start from innocence. Hemingway.”

“Yeah, and so?” She replied, with a slight pout as she lined her umbrella to her legs.

“Business.”

“What about it?”

“That quote summed the entirety of business up.” He looked at the sky.

“What do you mean?” She followed his gaze for a while, then returned her eyes to study his demeanor.

“Well, think about it, it started out as trade, for the benefit of both parties. Dating back thousands of years. It was quite innocent, but nevertheless it has grown into a corrupt monstrosity, ravaging everyone’s daily lives. You see, we are driven by our need to survive, and trade, as it has, simply paved its way across the quarry that is human life.” He said, leaning on the plastic advertisement wall, raising his right knee up to balance.

“Uhh… What?”

“Let’s see if this will help you understand. Our world is built on finance and business. Without it, we are destined to fall short of any of our expectations and die. Right?”

“Uhh… Yeah.”

“Good. Now think about this, what is the innate goal of a business.”

“Trade?”

“Yes, partially. That was what it was before. Now it is simply outwitting the person who trusts you to give something equally important in return, yes?” He looked at her, his eyes intent on driving his point.

“I guess.” She said, taking a quick glance at the boy who was twisting the iPad around in his hands.

“Advertisements. They promise, and yet, they never fail to fall short on their bargain.” He puffed from the pipe.

“Okay.”

“That’s why we have money. It was created to lessen the outwitting, but it, in time, has also failed to do it’s job and has also fallen into the hands of corruption.” He returned his gaze to the starless sky.

“Uh huh.” She nodded, slowly, attempting to understand the discourse.

“What is money worth?” He asked, pointing the tube of his pipe at her.

“Uh… Everything?” She said, raising her shoulders.

“Not necessarily. Ponder on it, and you will see, that money is simply a number, placed on a piece of highly overrated paper. It’s worth is built on the foundation that is gold.”

“You mean, the Federal Reserve Bank?” She raised an eyebrow.

“Yes. The Bank. All our money’s worth is in gold, in that bank. Now, take it back to the old days of trade. What is the sole purpose of gold?”

“Jewelry, duh. Unless you use it’s conducting power.” She said, with a knowledgeable smirk.

“Yes, but it is merely a rare substance. As we can plainly see, copper is the most common of the best conductors of electricity.” He gestured with his pipe towards the wires that loomed above them.

“Okay.”

“Vanity. Our entire empire of a world is built on the sole thing, that is vanity.”

“So, what are you saying; that money is worthless? That everything that we work for is merely a fool’s quest for greed or power?”

“In a way, but who are the fools?”

“Us, right?” She giggled.

“Indeed.” He said, puffing some more smoke, losing the smile. She was irritated, knowing that he thought that everything she had just worked for was worthless, that all she did, that all everyone did was not worth a single thing on this green earth. She soon realized that this man was merely as dark as the weather and that he would not ever last long before falling into poverty and despair. So much for the man’s educated ideas.

“So we are all basically worthless, right? You have the courage to tell people, that everything they’re doing is worthless, juts because you’re rich.” She started laughing, covering up her hurt, to which the boy followed, and as soon as she slowed down the laughter, when the silence returned, the man opened his mouth and said,

“I wouldn’t saythat.” He returned his smile.

“So what are you saying?” She questioned in frustration, her hands in the air.

“All of it is true, yes. But man is not made for defeat. A man can be destroyed but not defeated. You tell me who said that.” He said with a smile, noticing the bus pull up against the curb.

“So, wait. What is it all worth?” She looked at him, eyes bewildered, her face formed in questioning manner.

“Look at the child, and then find the courage to tell me what it is all worth.” He said. She nevertheless pulled the boy up and along, and he struggled before following and taking a seat in the bus. Taking in his statement, she took the words into thought and sat next to the boy. The boy began shaking, and he mumbled almost unintelligibly,

“Mommy, I’m cold.”

“Oh, I’m sorry honey, I forgot your jacket.” She said with a saddened tone. She cursed herself under her breath for forgetting the boy’s jacket. It was a long trip home, and she would have to stop by the pharmacy for either vitamins or medicine, should the boy have gotten a cold. To her surprise the man now loomed over her in the still bus, with a smile, his pipe gone. The bus driver waited, holding a 5 dollar bill that the man had presumably given him, to stop the bus this long.

“Courage, is grace under pressure.” He said, handing her his coat. He smiled that friendly smile once more and doffed his hat as well.

“Hey, Mack, your five minutes is up man! Next stop folks, stop number 48, Oak street.” The bus driver said with his slang tone.

He stepped out of the bus and re-lit his pipe. Standing there in the bus stop he waved a gloved hand at them, and stepped into a car that was parked nearby. She felt the pockets of the coat as she wrapped it around the boy. A solid feeling came up, and as she pulled it out, she realized that it was a money clip. It had the name Hemingway on it. She turned back to see if he was still there but he had already disappeared into the night. She counted the money. It was worth her 3 months salary. She tucked it in her pocket with a swift and giddy motion.

“What is it all worth?” She mumbled, as she rested her head with a smile, the boy still playing on the iPad. She embraced the child, and joined him in the game, smiling.

(c) Anachronic Works 2012

Cradle’s Story

With a lingering pain in his chest, Cradle walked down the moist sidewalk, next to the bus stop, scarcely trying to recall what his life had been like, long ago. A cigarette in his mouth, he knew he was to die, however he never quite expected that it would be like such. The streets were dark and void of anything, or anyone. It wasn’t quite the same as it was when he was alive, however, his only contentment was that in this life, death was not to come again, and that whatever he did here didn’t deteriorate his body. If he’d shot himself, he wouldn’t misplace his life, it’d be right there where he left it, in his body. At least that’s what he could expect, after attempting to poison himself futilely.

“Son of a bitch.” He said with a slight musical atonement that would relate words to actions unintended. He dropped the cigarette from his mouth as he flung the creature off his shoulder. It was a centipede, a small one, red and brown, and it left a lingering double-dotted bite mark on his neck. To think that God or whoever was the creator of this damned place would think of a less nuisance infested world. Checking his pocket, for the hard cardboard pack of his endeared vice, he found no refuge in the embers of burning tobacco.

“Motherfucker.” He said, rubbing the sore wound that would never fester into a malicious disease, recalling how his antiquated body was like, long ago. Immersed in the thought, he recalled his dying mother, ill to the bone with a barrage of incurable diseases thanks to her line of work. He recalled his father, who had died on his 19’th birthday, quite some years ago. He recalled his two sisters, who had moved on with life, slowly decaying as time passed by; as they lived their lives without him. His wife was pregnant, and such was the case during his past life. Averting his trail of thought from the dismembered memories of what once was, he returned to his current, and yet similarly distorted life.

“Asshole.” He mentioned to the creator, who was clearly nowhere near him, or so he thought. If there ever was a creator, and they’d met, he would probably have attempted a homicide. The next pack of cigarettes would be at the convenience store uphill, and it would be a ten minute walk over. Checking his watch, he noticed that he still had 15 minutes before the store closed. Undisclosed to his line of sight, there was an old man, around mid 80’s, with a long gray beard that draped over his chest, wrung tightly against the man’s suit. A large gut hung from the man’s centre, which made the man’s breathing more incandescent as it moved, shifting shadow and mass. The man had quite the formal look with a tie bulging from beneath the dark double-breasted coat he wore. It was fairly unnoticeable until:

“One want?” Said the man, startling Cradle. Cradle winced over in shock.

“Want what?” Cradle replied, tossing the empty pack towards the filthy sidewalk, encompassed with litter.

“A cigarette.” The man said, offering an open soft pack of Lucky Strike cigarettes. Thunder rumbled in the distance and lightning cackled its worst. The man was sitting on a dilapidated bench in the bus stop, a paper bag next to him with what surely contained a bottle of some oddly branded liquor. The cigarette pack claimed that it was detrimental to one’s health, and a physically dangerous substance. The irony of tobacco, its enemies, and its users. It never ceased to let a smile drip from Cradle’s face, and this time was no exception.

“Sure.” He said taking one from the pack. Why wait when he could satisfy his cravings now?

“Thanks. I needed one.” He added, lighting the stick.

“Sit, sonny. Listen.” The man offered. Seeing as he wasn’t going to do anything quite productive, although that didn’t perturb him, for the rest of his miserable second chance at life, he sat down. Luckily he died with just over 3 billion dollars in his hand, and it remained with him through the afterlife, if this was the afterlife.

“Alright.” He said, sitting down, next to the old man. The old man took a swig from the bottle in the paper bag, and released a self satisfying sigh that seemed to echo down the streets. Haunting in a way, although he knew that nobody was hurt here, a chill rose against his spine, the tingling sensation reminding him of his former life. Quite close, however, nothing here was ever quite the same. Everything was extensively bland, to the point of being hackneyed, but at least there was some little taste left.

“What’s a nice night like you doing on a guy like this?” The old man drunkenly asked, turning to Cradle with such familiar green eyes.

“Well, I don’t know about the night, but I’m pretty sure I was walking home when you offered me this.” He replied, holding out the cigarette.

“Heh. Well, nobody doing knows what they’re here anymore. Even I don’t… Anyway, the name’s Earl. A meeting you pleasure.”

“An equal pleasure to meet you. Are you drunk, or do you just have some grammar issues?”

“Well, since ever I blew my head from the brain, I’ve funny been talkin’ like this.”

“I see. Tough, huh?”

“Yep… That’s why hires nobody me. I’ve tried. I’m it sick of.”

“Uh-huh.”

“Well, here’s life been good pretty, actually. I donation get others from. Day it through gets help.”

“Sucks, huh?”

“Yep.”

“So, what was it you wanted to tell me?”

“Oh, nothing that. It’s lonely just lately I’ve been, and I share to something you with wanted.”

“Mhmm, and what would that be?” Cradle said, taking another puff from the cigarette.

“Well, foggy seeing as its how, or vision my blurry is, I talk to wanted you. See you, its doing difficult this, nobody because talks with to want me… I be used to a speaker public. One day, decided I enough I’ve had. Went on shot I myself and. See I how react people to me. Understand do me they, but hard it’s them for. So talking I do don’t much, nowadays.”

“I can see how that would trouble you. Misery loves company, and I guess I’m here to revel in your story, huh?” Cradle said.

“Wanted no, I just say to something someone die before I.”

“You’re gonna die? Now?”

“No.”

“Oh, okay. Well, you can’t get much dead-er than this.”

“Yep. You how bout’? Story a have me for?”

“You know, I gave up my entire life for my dream. Chased it, and I was forced to do something I guess I could say I’m proud of, even though that would classify me as somewhat troubled mentally. I took chances, did everything the books and people told me to. I sat when they said so, jumped when they told me, and still, all my dreams were flushed down the toilet. I made a company, and my partners turned on me as soon as the recession came about. I was forced to steal from them. Hell, I stole almost everything. It was good, at least, when the cops finally found me, I caused a big shootout, killing some bystanders, and a few cops as well. That’s when it turned to shit; some punk-ass SWAT sniper took me out from across the street. Worst feeling ever, being shot. Anyway, I didn’t die then. I was still alive, although my arm was nearly blown off by that son of a bitch. I realized I didn’t want an eternity in prison, so I just ended up shooting myself with my own gun, right in the heart.”

“Head at shoot least didn’t you your.”

“Yeah. Those sons of bitches. My mother was dying, my father was dead, and I was also pretty much an undead asshole, walking with a beat, not knowing what was going on with the rest of my only family, my two sisters. Heh, I guess you win some, you lose some, life’s a joke, and I’ll be damned if anyone can prove that otherwise.”

“Yep. Strike the name’s. Are you?”

“Cradle. That’s what they called me. I always cradled almost every possession I had when I was a kid and the name kinda stuck. What’s with strike?”

“Bowling.”

“Ahh… I see. Nice to know, Strike.”

“Advice piece one I’ve you for got. Again it don’t do, sure for that’s. Life’s here better, so waste don’t chances your. You’re have that money lucky to. It do good with. Worth it’s not do to again that. Trust me. Worth this its time it.”

“See, anyway, around you.” Strike added as he stood up and began walking away. Cradle checked his watch; it was 20 minutes too late for buying another pack. Fractious about the scenario, he cursed again under his breath. Strike disappeared, and Cradle noticed a stick left on the bench. Picking it up, and contemplating on whether or not the creator was actually half bad, he read a small penned inscription on the stick. It read:

‘Good luck, Cradle. Be better.’

“Yeah, right, Strike.” He whispered under his breath, lighting it up. Walking in the opposite direction now, he headed over to the other convenience store that was open 24 hours. Although it was farther, his need wasn’t quite fusty just yet. Cradling the lighter in his hands, he continued walking down the road, pondering on whether or not his gun which was back at his apartment was still loaded.

(c) Anachronic Works 2012