I was planning on posting this yesterday but we had this get-together thing in my parents’ friend’s house (let’s face it, they’re not my friends) so it’s delayed until today. As I mentioned earlier, this story is influenced by Coldplay’s song of the same name, except it’s seen from my point of view, how the song goes in my head and stuff. This is part one – the first person to read this story is my friend, Wendy, because I gave her the story for her birthday on the 23rd. Part 2 is being written, so you just have to wait until it’s finished, and I can guarantee that it’s going to be soon! So, without further ado, enjoy!
(This story was influenced by Coldplay’s song of the same name.)
“Come up to meet you, tell you I’m sorry
You don’t know how lovely you are
I had to find you, tell you I need you
Tell you I’ve set you apart
Tell me your secrets and ask me your questions
Oh, let’s go back to the start
Running in circles, coming up tails
Heads on a science apart
Nobody said it was easy
It’s such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be this hard
Oh, take me back to the start”
* * *
13:47, Saturday, 13th October, XX12.
That was the sixth flask I’ve broken today. I didn’t notice it was getting dark. Well, considering I don’t even bother to check the clock because I’m very busy. Yes, busy. Very, very busy. Some say I’m just wasting my time, wasting my life doing pointless things. It’s not pointless. It will someday give a very fruitful result that it’s worth every second, minute, hours, days, weeks, months, years I’ve spent doing this. Yes, my work will be rewarded. That’s why I’ve never considered a break.
But some idiots think otherwise.
The cheap white-washed front door had probably made a(nother) dent on my sadly thin wall, as the loud bang like the sound of a gun can be heard from my lab, which is in the basement. Seriously, they need to teach children nowadays to learn to knock before entering, or in this case, try not to cause havoc in other people’s houses. To make things worse, the last person I want to see before my death trot through the lab’s opened glass door as if he was walking into his own sanctuary. Thankfully enough, he has bagels and coffee with him. That I can keep quiet about.
“Yo, Zombie King,” Zeke chimes, “Brought bagels and coffee. As usual. To put some fat into that stick you call a body. As usual.” He says it as he places the box on the nearest bench, snatch one bagel and munch open-mouthed. Now, that’s not very appealing, though I bet Zeke thought it was supposed to be.
Sighing, I grab a bagel and nibble on the edges. Considering the fact that my stomach is very much empty and the last meal I had was two days ago, I’d rather not overwork my body more than I had. I sip a bit of coffee to soften the bagel bits in my mouth, saying “Thanks, though I can take care of myself. As usual.”
Licking his fingers, Zeke grabs another bagel and takes a humongous bite out of it, leaving only about a quarter in his hand. “Dude, if it weren’t for me, then you would’ve been six feet under in the first week you started this… thing,” Zeke comments, sweeping his hand around the room as emphasis.
“I still have food in my fridge,” I counter. True, but most of it is probably stale, since I haven’t touched them in ages.
“Liar. I can smell the stench from the front door.”
“If you’re finished, you can happily drag your booty out of here. That actually helps. A lot.”
“Hey, you should be grateful that I’m still around,” Zeke points an accusing finger at me, giving me a mock glare along with a fake scowl, “Anyway, be sure to keep yourself alive while I’m not around. You still have Hilda and Francis – you know their numbers, yeah? Try to have a decent conversation, at least. Say ‘hi’, or something.” As he is about to reach the door, he looks back and added, “Oh, and go out once in a while; you look paler than cataracts.”
That was the eighth flask I broke today. Maybe Zeke was right; maybe I should take a walk outside. When was the last time I see the sun? Am I that haggard-looking? I lift my hand to my face, scrunching my nose in disapproval at the sight. Yep, need a walk.
So I carefully lock the lab door, pull the metal railings over it, lock the metal railings, slip into my shoes – not bothering to tie the laces – and opening the front door. Slowly. Inches by inches, until my whole body is enveloped in blinding white light. As soon as my eyes had adjusted to the new surroundings, I blink several times before actually knowing what I’m doing.
I’m outside, for the first time in, what, weeks?
Most of the pedestrians stroll down the sidewalk nonchalantly, while some stare at me dumbly, as if they’ve seen some nightmarish creature – Ah. I take that back; they have the right to stare. But I prefer them to not do it openly – it makes me feel naked. I guess the correct term would be insecure, or an outcast. I remember the time when I wouldn’t mind having people pointing fingers at me, whisper loudly behind my back, stare at me with scrutinizing looks.
I draw in a long breath and release it in a quick huff. Looking left and right, I try to remember the direction of Hilda’s bar, the one with the unmistakable cow-shaped neon sign. If I had never met her then I would’ve never imagined that sort of traditional old bars still exist today. I wouldn’t even have guessed Hilda exists – she’s just… so… old fashioned. Heh, says I.
Continuing my search, I take my first steps outside but returned back after just a few steps to check if I’ve locked my door. Surely enough, I did. Maybe after weeks of not going out have me getting very paranoid. When I’ve reached the gate, I try not to spit at some people’s feet, for they stare so rudely and even made impolite faces. Most of them I don’t even know, and they’ve already judge me by my appearance! I scratch my goatee, for that’s what I do when I’m a tad bit ticked off. People need to get more educated.
But then again, I can’t blame them.
After a (long) while of wandering about – A.K.A.: lost – I finally found Hilda’s bar. As the day’s getting darker, the bar is getting more and more customers piling in. The stench of sweat, laughter and strong beverages can be smelt a few yards away. The sickening strong smell of alcohol and unhygienic people makes my head spin like a Ferris wheel on steroids. I should’ve brought my mask with me.
I walk briskly into the bar, gaining me some stares – as usual – but some prefer to continue their own activities. I can make out a group in one corner telling tall tales about their journeys, while I can also feel a small spark of hate somewhere along the left. Maybe there’s going to be a massive brawl starting sooner or later. I just hope I’ll be gone when it starts. I find an empty seat between a silent hulk and a not-so-sober broken heart, and I sit there with my arms folded neatly on the island top. I take a quick glance at both sides; the macho man on my right seems to have a good time sipping his drink, while the sissy keeps on whining about the possible reasons why his lover left him, saying something about being cold-hearted, uncaring, selfish and all those self-hating comments people often make. The latter reminds me of my days when –
“Axel? Hell, it’s you!” Hilda approaches me with a broad grin, a towel in one hand while the other is occupied with two empty jugs, “Haven’t seen you in a long time. I would’ve thought you dead if it weren’t for Ezekiel. Ha! I would’ve even organised your funeral, maybe turn your house into a tech museum for geeks!”
“Gee, Hilda. That was very nice of you,” I compliment half-heartedly, “I’m only here ‘cause Zeke told me I look so…”
“Dead?” suggests Hilda, “Half-dead? Undead? Like death? I think I may have some other death-related things to call you by. Dracula? Zombie? None of those?” She babbles on while refilling jugs and sliding them across the island, the wet towel scrubbing underneath her broad hand. “Ezekiel bought you some bagels at noon. Did you eat all of them? You still look starved. Want something to eat? It’s on the house. For you, only.”
“Thanks, Hilda, but I don’t feel like eating right now.”
“Yeah, you could still be saying that when you’re on your death bed. Whatever, I’m making you some special sunny sides with toasts. Let’s not jump to the steak, yet!” And with that, Hilda disappears through the door next to the beverages cabinet. Let’s face it, there’s not arguing against Hilda – she’ll win even though she’s losing.
Along with Zeke and Francis, Hilda’s a dear friend to me, even though her big mouth sometimes makes me want to lock her up in a dungeon beneath the earth. Otherwise, she’s a wonderful cook and a keen listener, as well as a walking sun. I bet even if I were to toss her in the said dungeon, she would still keep herself sane by talking to herself. I remember the time when she’s lost in the sewage tunnels and we found her a few days later, still intact and chattering on with no one in particularly. However, the doctor said her mind was perfectly fine. How does that even work? That just shows the miracles of women.
When Hilda’s back, she has a tray of toasts, eggs and orange juice professionally made. So much for going slow.
“Eat up, now! I want to see that tray empty, and I mean it!” Hilda barks good-naturedly.
I nod my thanks and take a small bite on my toast, chewing as long as eternity. I can feel Hilda’s eyes on me even when I try hard to pretend they’re not there. When I finally can’t handle it, I set down the toast and look at her straight in the eyes. “Look, I know you know I don’t mind the stares, but really? Don’t you have a job?”
“’m on my break. Daisy’s taking over,” she says casually, “And I was thinking about getting you to stop this madness.”
I snort aloud, averting my gaze to the loud crowd to my right, “What madness? This bar? It’s always been like this.”
“No. I mean with your business down in your little basement.” Hilda’s stern tone make me look at her, feeling somewhat confronted, cornered. She has her meaty arms crossed over her chest, a firm frown upon her pink face – I’m not sure if it’s because of the heat in the bar or the anger behind those sky-like eyes. “I know you’re still not over Tiff, but you should be, by now. It’s been too long, everyone knows it. They think you’re taking it too far. And so do I.”
“My business has nothing to do with you, okay?” I hiss, “I do what I want and what I think is best. There is a way for Tiff to be back again with us. You want that, don’t you? Well, so do I. And Zeke, too. And I bet Francis wishes that, too, no matter how much he denies it.”
“That’s not what’s best. You’d better move one before you’re gonna get hurt–”
“Stop it, Hilda.”
“I understand that you still love her but this thing you’re doing is impossible on so many levels –”
“ – and what if something goes wrong? It could affect her. It could affect you –”
“ – just like how this all started. Should I remind you that this was all your –”
“IT’S NOT!” I yell with every bit of rage I have. The whole bar fell silent, eyes all looking at my direction. Hilda’s lips are pressed into a thin line, her eyes radiating sadness, disappointment and – and – was that sympathy?
No. No, no, no, no, no. I don’t need sympathy. She, obviously, doesn’t know how hard it is on me. She’s just an outsider. She’s only seeing the outside of the veil. She’s only feeding on gossips, twisted truths, lies. She doesn’t know.
With that little drama, I storm out of the bar, nearly running away but not quick enough to avoid Hilda’s words.
“You’ll soon see, Axel! You’ll soon accept it! And we’ll be there to help you!”
That was 19:55.