I appreciate you coming here, I really do, but you’ve got to stop looking at me like that. You remind me of my shrink. She kept staring at me in such a way, as if I were going to strangle myself with my necktie.
Have you ever heard of Sisyphus? No, it’s not a venereal disease. He was an ancient king. Nasty bastard. He enjoyed killing people. He was deceitful and his greed for power and money was insatiable. Eventually, the gods punished him by making him roll a boulder up a hill, but before he could reach the top, the boulder would always roll back down, so he would never complete his task.
Like Prometheus, who was punished by having his liver eaten by an eagle every day only for it to grow back and be eaten again the next day.
If you thought you were smarter than Zeus, he would punish you in a way you’d never forget. Continue reading
It is believed the worst kind of suffering to be uncertainty. Humans prefer a bitter truth to having to face the fear of not knowing. The emotional roller coaster, so to speak. People want to know, even if it means breaking their own hearts, over and over again, with the inevitability of their fate. They want to know.
This is why people called Taissa and asked for an appointment. She’d tell them she was busy until the end of the year. They’d beg and promise and… she’d finally agree to half an hour just before dawn or a lunch break in a shopping mall. They knew she knew. They wanted to know what she knew.
Taissa could predict the future.
Octavio Paz once said that solitude is the profoundest fact of the human condition. Sometimes I think this is how Hell is supposed to be. A dark, empty room. Or a huge city with no one but yourself for company.
I know that you’re here just because you want to find out what really happened to Oscar, but I’m afraid I’m going to disappoint you. I am going to read you one of my stories instead.
Why? Because every writer wants to be read, every storyteller wants to be heard.
“El sueño de la razón produce monstruos.” – Francisco Goya
His chest felt heavy, his legs tired. Dead leaves rustled under his feet. Nailed to the sky, the moon’s sardonic smile quivered among a cluster of cold stars. His body just a coffin for his soul, Robert seemed to take every footstep with infinite precaution, as if fearing that the dirt road would swallow his feet.
On each side, pine trees stood tall. Ancient guardians.
“Though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of-” he tried to recite, but was interrupted by hounds barking somewhere in the distance. Long, reverberating shivers of sounds that seemed to had spawned from hell itself bashed against his ears. His black skin glistened with sweat; droplets shuddered down from his hairline to his eyebrows, down his temples. The skin of his neck burned, hot. His eyes glimmered in the dark void, hopelessly trying to peer through that endless ocean of fear and agony. He pressed the guitar to his chest, his long arms forming a desperate embrace around the black wood. The sharp smell of lacquer flooded his nose. Continue reading
The only thing that is worth remembering, and worth remembering over and over again, is that in this world, under all and any circumstance, nothing ever happens.
My name is Jonathan Fisher and I can stare at the sun longer than anyone else on this planet. Longer than you. And I am afraid you are not going to like me.
Most of the time I’m just a ghost, a shadow riding in the back seat of a bus, a whisper travelling across a Universe only ten miles wide. So it shouldn’t surprise you that the first event I can recall with an almost morbid precision took place on my twenty third birthday. That was the day we buried my father. Continue reading
There’s this neat trick they do in television, especially in hour long TV dramas. It’s called a teaser and its sole purpose is to make you want more. It usually ends with a cliffhanger just so you don’t change the channel when that lengthy commercial break starts.
Sometimes the teaser is a glimpse of a scene close to the end of that episode. This is how I’m going to begin my story – with a short scene close to the end.
I guess the first thing you should know is where this scene is taking place.
Imagine a centuries old oak forest, one that would creep most people out. Huge trees, rotten carcasses, contorted ghosts. Boughs, now useless limbs, lying on the ground.
The second thing you should know is “when.”
Henry James thought “summer afternoon” to be the two most beautiful words in the English language. So let’s say that’s our “when.”
Summer afternoon. I bet you’re thinking about sunlight slipping through thousands of leaves, twigs greedily stretching skyward. But maybe it’s cloudy, maybe fog curls around leaves and branches, a trembling embrace. The forest has its own sounds that appear to be most sinister.
Your lungs gasping for air, you’re drowning in that sea of ash-colored fog. You can’t tell what is what, you fill every shadow with doubt. Continue reading
“Caminante, no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar.”
— Antonio Machado
The traveller sat down on a sand dune and saw nothing. He heard nothing. He feared the worst. He had reached a truly godforsaken place: a vast, mournful pan of emptiness where anything sentient resented anything else that was alive. Every sun-scoured scrap of fauna had barbs, hooks or thorns, every animal had poison, paw or claw. Scorpions scuttled and snakes hissed and slithered while they went about their grisly business of survival. Even sand was an enemy. It burned his feet raw, it stinged his eyes and acted as a surrogate for pain.
His skin felt like scraped by sandpaper, his tongue was cloven to the roof of his mouth. His eyes felt like they’d melted into the back of his mind, making everything seem mirage-like. He knew he was alone, abandoned, and doomed. A colourless heat haze had blurred out the background and his vision had become myopic.
Yet, through the silence, through the nothing, something throbbed, something gleamed. Continue reading
They had laid Abel on a bed of leaves and twigs and branches. Flowers covered his body. The woman sat to his right, crying. Tears flooded her eyes, trembled down her cheeks, fell down her nose. Tears dropped from her chin. Next to her, the man sat upright, peering at the furnace of the sun drawn against the purple haze of the night to come. It was going to be a dark and cold and empty night, he thought.
Soon, the night poured over them. All they could see were the stars nailed against the blankness. East of Eden, at the edge of the world, there was nothing but infinite emptiness. They had been given the greatest gift that had ever been offered to any living thing. They often gazed at the dark sky and could see the liquid mist of morning covering the land. They could see it clearly in their minds and spoke often of it with great pleasure.
“What is going to happen?” the woman asked. Continue reading