This is a full-length dystopian I’ve been on-off writing for the past two years. The rough draft is finished but needs a lot of work. So, although I was hoping to get it out this year, I will have to see how the schedule goes. Other contemporary writing projects will most likely take less time to finish lol. Yep … let’s see. Until then, I hope you’ll enjoy this mid-week teaser.
The night had a pleasant coolness. In Hector’s mind, it conjured the vibe of leaving the Bassment, a joint he and his mates went to party on the regular. The transition from smoky stale air tripping out into crystal freshness in the early hours reminded him next of a time before that … when he’d fallen off his streak bike at the break of dawn .. this tripped him onto the concussion that had gotten him admitted to Medics Central where … they’d patched him and hooked him up to oxygen .. as he sat out the regeneration process for a punctured lung.
After that? Hec had never taken breathing for granted again. He’d never forgotten the feel of that hospital air. He’d fallen in love with its quality, a connoisseur of a certain silky-cold crispness.
Traipsing down the Sägetodstraße heading for the city centre Hec took in the rubble and piecemeal redevelopment. The patrons build new cities all the time, man. Slash the old and leave it to burn. Hec couldn’t believe it. His surroundings were stark. This used to be ‘the’ posh part of town. He remembered it was glorious. Monumental. And it wasn’t even that long ago, maybe ten years. Just before the second rampage. Nowadays much of it stood abandoned. Some parts had skidded into proper dive status, seedy as hell, home to the thousands left behind. Former times were gone. Finished. Most of the town was shabby, a patched-up shell of its former self. The grandeur of the approaching Platz .. an anachronism.
Hec was walking fast, his footfalls dropping light and springy, almost running. The realisation made him stop as he reached the Königsplatz. The long museum buildings with their trailing arches were illuminated, shimmering gestalt, housing a past his mother was currently lost in. A past which had lost its relevance to most.
Crossing the road to one museum and walking under the arches, he slunk down at a spot affording a perfect view of the majestic Herrlichkeit Allee with its line of dead trees. The hope of catching a little solitude soon getting dashed by a drunk, or a heap of live blankets more like, stirring to his right.
Still, Hec settled in, not digging nothin. Homeless folks were everywhere these days. Looking out, there were other bodies on the move.
Taking out his mother’s journal, he sparked one he’d rolled earlier, feeling gratified for having managed to nick the journal back. Those detectives had been so busy, Hec had done a lift and swap for another older journal on the bookshelf behind him. The shift had been as easy as pie. Nobody had noticed a thing.
Opening the cover, he widened his gaze at his mother’s looping cursive, drawing the print closer and leaning into a slant of bright light, strong enough to turn the stone walls with their grand Ancient Greek freezes a shimmering white. He remembered the myths his mother had made him read as a child, the Iliad and other stories about a plethora of ancient Gods that now felt tangled in the labyrinth of his modern chaotic mind, like melting wax figures under Icarus’ blazing sun.
Hec toked and his head started to space out. He didn’t consider himself the emotional type yet he was struggling to get his mental straight. The expansiveness felt good. The fact his mother persisted with paper – only a mild annoyance. In fact, Hec recognized the smartness.
As he started reading, his head fell back against the freezing stone of the Corinthian column, the journal lifted, his eyes squinting, trained to the page.
Finding it boring at first, Hec skipped a couple pages. What the … , he skipped back, his curiosity turned feverish.
He flicked page after page, ignoring the groans of the drunk. He was reading like a man possessed. His mother sounded nothing like the woman he knew. She was anxious. Burdened.
Why spend so much effort scraping a living when every day we’re .. (she’d scrawled that part out ..illegible) ..My thoughts are still a torture. I need to tell someone about this. Anyone at this point… I can’t keep this to myself any longer. I can’t continue to hide the fact that ..
The light flickered and Hector glanced up. The drunk had morphed into the walking dead. He was angling Hec’s way with stumbling, robotic movements. Hector could already smell his cloud of funk and he hadn’t even reached.
– Got a cigarette?
At least that’s what Hector heard through the man’s slurred German dialect as he watched him fasten his thick coat with thick rope, his assortment of sewn-on symbols, an eagle, a hammer, a silver rimmed star, a snake patterned cape .. jingling, a proper piece of performance art he was.
Hector seldom shared, but he had one to spare.
Still up in his feelings about the night’s events, a ripple of charity coursed his spine.
Reaching into his jacket, he fished it out, having trouble locating it at first as the tips of his fingers were numb for cold. Then, not wanting the man to come any closer, Hector bounced up, stepped to him, sparked it and set it between the man’s shaky outstretched fingers.
– Danke, jünge.
– Nichts zu danken. Hector said.
He hadn’t expected lucidity let alone gratitude from this old man. What was once commonplace was these days obsolete.
It was the dead of night and the sky had lost its sparkle, the endless pool of inky blackness stretched wide. Only the monument’s lighting sliced the smeared gloom along with the occasional passing flyer.
The man’s expression was like Christmas though, appreciative and humble, as if Hector’s simple act was a turning of the tide for a life obviously down on its luck. Hector’s gaze dropped to his bundles heaped high under the arches.
Hec had never not had a place to come back to, he thought, considering his options. He’d never not had people who cared about his well-being. In a world now run by machines, people still need people, Hec decided. Trust that.
(‘Untitled’ Work in progress © L.S. Bergman)
Images accredited ©L.S. Bergman