Diurna: an Anthology of Short Stories and Poems

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Reminiscence of a City at Night (5)

My night sky was almost over and I was but a drifter. Beyond its million years of life, mine was only an unsignificant fraction. Observing those endless lights felt like falling in love with an unloving mistress: it was pure love, yet unrequited. Between adorement and heartache I float under the last glimpse of their sparks.

Anytime soon the eastern horizon would light up and the thin line of ray would divide the heaven and the earth. The faraway Ufuk: that is the place where my unanswered longing would always go. It is the cruelest place on earth, because you would never reach it no matter how far you traveled down your path. Those are the unheard distances: the unwalkable roads.

Soon—anytime soon—the world of man would wake up; its machines and its gears would turned on. The noise of its busyness would soon fill the air, leaving no room for a breath of stillness and silent. All the sons and daughters of Manu would eat everything their hands can reach, and they consume everything with an infinite bowel. Woe to the daydreamers who are not waking up after the sun touched their cheek as the morning dew fall! Woe to them!

As I followed the evacuation trail from the fire incident during the Great War, I found myself in front of a crossroad, which one of the street would lead me to the restaurant I always love to visit. A full circle was coming to close itself.

People know the incident by the name of the Sea of Fire Incident: a mark of their forefathers and foremothers valor and courage. It was during the last Great War, during which the citizen and the army could not defend their city anymore, deciding to burn the city down. Nothing should remain that could be conquered on: everything were thrown into the sea of fire. She is unforgiving in nature and consumes all that is thrown to her. Some decades ago, the street on which I was standing on was at the bottom of its fiery pit.

The line I was gazing on was supposed to be the trail of the refugee who were fleeing from the city. Guided by the army who were at the same time burning the building, they perform a long march to the outskirt of the city. They were not afraid to die. They screamed nothing but one believe: should one falls, a thousand shall arise.

The street was lighted well in comparison to the dark alleys I went just before. There I was: in the middle of a crossroad. If I went ahead, I would venture to the eastern side of the city and be on my way back home. If I went the right, I would heading south and found myself again on the main street. If I went to the left, I would reach my favorite restaurant again and the circle of my quest that night would be complete. I was tired and beat up; I was sleepy and could not think straight. I wished the problem of choice in life to be simpler.

I was not finsihed with my thought when I realized that people seem to fill the street already. I thought to myself: some people prefer to offer some prayer in the mosque that they rose verly early. Most of them are usually men. Perhaps some of them were walking to the Great Mosque. I could still hear the recitation from this distance.

Suddenly I noticed the sound of someone running with an exhausted breath. In front of me that person stumbled and fell on the middle of the street. I hurried and approached him, “Is everything—,” I didn’t finished my question due to my surprise: it was the mohawk man on the train station, the one who got beaten up by the police. His face were all blue and one could see blood on his nose and mouth.

He grabbed my shirt, pulling himself up and started to yell,“Run! Get out from here! Run!” He shouted frantically with unfocused eyes, looking to the direction he was running from in between. He seemed not to recognize me. “What happened? Why are you—,” he pushed me back and tried to run again. I fell on the street and saw him dragging his feet in desperation. People around me seemed to ignore that strange sight in the middle of the crossroad and continued on their path.

Out of curiosity, I took the street to the right. The street lamps there seemed to be brighter than the ones on the crossroad. As I carefully approaching the other end of the street, I took a peek from one of the building to the main street ahead of me. I was shocked; the power that supported my leg left me, leaving me fell on my bottom on the pedestrian walk.

On the main street I saw so many people marching together. So many, that I could not see the end of the line. There were young people and the elder; some of them carrying stuffs and some of them were not. There were troops from the army: faceless. What was supposed to be the curves that define a face was nowhere to be found. They had no eyes, no nose, no mouth. That army of faceless troops marched on the outer side of the people. They were all silent: the sounds that I heard was only the sound of the recitation from the Great Mosque and noise of many feet stomping the ground. It began to burn.

I have heard tales about the hellfire. In one of the story, the hellfire was neither red nor hot: it was blue and freezing. The blue fire was not burning what it consumes; it freezes and stole the life out of the being fell under her grasp. The hell which is made out of the bluefire is silent: no screams of tortured souls would be heard from inside of it. Only the eery serenity of guilt and remorse, condemned to be experienced for all eternity, repeated again and again.

But the fire before me was not blue and still in nature: it was red and danced sporadically. Its crimson color painted all the buildings and the street lamps. The sky was also burned and it was as bright as daylight, but the nature of the light was different. Whereas under the ray of the sun the world of men prevails, there it was the netherrealm that took supremacy. It was morbid: a crimson colored sky mixed with what was left of the nighttime sky.

The sound of the recitation was distorted; sound of the crying children and the wailing parents emerged: it was maddening. And there were crackling sounds of woods and stones engulfed in flame, sounds of building crumbling and falling down, sounds of poor souls entrapted in locked doors that were thrown into the bottom of the kindled ocean. No one swims in the sea of fire.

I recognized one figure among the horde of people who were marching: the piano player. Her sad face looked down following the people, guided by the faceless army. I remember her porcelain fingers, her shattering tear-pearls.

I felt some power returned to me when I saw her. Across where I still sat, I saw a women holding her two children, covering the mouth of the children as the children closed their eyes and seemed to sob in fear. The women also closed her eyes and was shaking. I thought she was praying.

I heard a raptured screams of animals. As I looked back to the great march, I saw some army dragged a bunch of pig headed people. The pig headed people were all bleeding and seemed to beg for forgiveness. But the army was faceless, without eyes that could see. One that sees not, pities not. Their bayonets thrusted into the fatty flesh of those pig headed people, opening new wounds or worsening the former ones. I looked at the crimson sky: a vortex was forming at the distance west.

I started to pray: the verse of safety and the dispell of all black magics: the prayer my cousin used to remind me. However, I couldn’t manage to finish it, since I never actually memorized it. And I repeated it again only to fail again, without end: repetitions in vain. My voice was in the end unable to produce anymore sound and I was not sure whether the prayer in that foreign tongue was recited correctly. The crimson sky still lit, the recitation from the Great Mosque was still heard, and the march seemed endless.

In the last moment my consciousness betrayed me and into a deep slumber sleep I fell: dark and silent, into the realm of no form. It was a world known to all man, but forgotten as they woke up from their bed: a reality which was buried beneath the layers of affairs and problems that entangled a mortal life. Into that single point of return I fell; into that diminishing light I was drown. As soon as I reached the boundary between the realms, languages escaped me. There was no mean for me to tell the story any further.

26 November 2016

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