Luca – Part 1

It started with a text, “got work for you, call me asap” texts like this weren’t unusual by any means, but the last time I had answered one, I’d flown to Paris. When I arrived at the studio Adam was working in just three days before, I was told that the shoot had been cancelled, and Adam had been flown back to the UK two days ago.

I’d literally dropped everything, even giving up another smaller project that would clash with this one, and reluctantly, paid for a flight. I paid for a one way ticket, on the promise that my return ticket would be paid for when the project was done; emptying my savings account getting there. It was an embarrassing 14 hour wait, before my parents could send me the money to come home. I hated having to borrow money from them, and hated even more that I hadn’t ever been able to pay it back.

I tried calling Adam as soon as I got home, but his number just went straight to voicemail. It had been almost eight months since I last heard from him.

Adam and I grew up together, we lived on the same street. As kids, we played together, acting out scenes from our favourite tv shows. Movies were a big part of our lives and from a young age, we dreamed about making our own. We did most things together, we managed to get a paper route at the same news agent, and delivered papers to the houses we had once played in front of. We kept the job only long enough to buy a tiny, handheld camera we were able to use to create our own movies. I usually opted to stay behind the camera, while Adam would cavort in front of it, much the same way as when we were young.

After school came university, both studying at the same campus, with Adam graduating a year ahead of me. Upon graduating myself, Adam was working with a small production company, and had managed to line a job up for me. Working together, made us both work harder, earning a good reputation as we went. This kept both of us working constantly for a couple of years. We started branching out eventually, each finding our own projects, in our own chosen specialties. But still, we threw work to one another when we could, if we could.

I learned about a month after I got back from Paris, that Adam had been offered a full time post with an American production company. He’d left without telling anyone, just packed up and went, it was his mother who finally thought to get in touch with me. He was erratic like that, but he was good fun, spontaneous and impulsive. He had never been able to sit still, always moving from one place to the other, crashing on couches, sleeping in spare rooms. He bounced from project to project, and had worked with some of the bigger companies in the industry along the way.

I wasn’t a great traveller, so I didn’t take as many jobs out with the city, but I did earn enough to make the repayments on a flat, which I’d bought and remodelled with the help of my father. I took jobs with small production teams when I could get them; but when I couldn’t find work, I ran open mike nights in some of the local bars.

I had chosen not to respond to Adam’s first text, but he kept trying all day, making me turn my phone off completely. I didn’t turn it on again until I arrived home, only giving in, as I checked to find out if my partner had called. Adam had called me three times in the last hour alone, a fact that both worried and irked me. I stood scowling at the screen, my finger hovering over his name, before tapping the home button. I opened messages, opting for a text as I knew if I spoke to him, I’d end up saying yes. I have to admit, I knew that getting in touch, even if it was to tell him to fuck off, would just make him all the more persistent.

I didn’t hear from him again at all during the late afternoon, or into the early evening. After dinner my partner called, I told her about Adam’s weird behaviour, she wanted me to call him, just to make sure he was okay. I still felt bitter, and knowing that he was back in the UK and hadn’t gotten in touch until now didn’t help, but I told her I’d sleep on it. She was coming through in the evening tomorrow, to come hang out with me while I was working, something we did fairly often as we both got to drink for free, as long as they were soft drinks. We agreed to meet in George Square and make our way to the bar from there.

I played video games until midnight, then decided to turn in for the night, I was hoping to get up early to go to the gym, as this usually meant I’d do something with my day other than sitting around in my underwear, playing video games and drinking coffee until I had to get to work. Working evenings often made me run the risk of my days being much more unproductive.

I placed my phone on the nightstand as I always did, before heading to the bathroom, to get ready for bed. I stripped out of the clothes I was wearing, balling them up and throwing them into the corner, at the foot of an already full laundry hamper. I couldn’t help smirking as I could already hear my partner’s voice in my head, chastising me playfully for letting my laundry get so ‘out of hand’. I’d have to remember to do at least one load of laundry in the morning before heading to the gym. I dragged a toothbrush over my teeth, noticing bristles coming loose as I did so, it badly needed replacing. I was more than ready for bed, so I was irked when I saw the text notification glowing on the screen as I walked into my room. I didn’t have to check to know that it was Adam, it read,

“I need to talk to you. Now.”

I stood, looking at my phone and shivered slightly, not that it was cold, but the way that text was written. There was nothing playful about it, it was so… not Adam. I shrugged the feeling off, and put it down to the fact that I was still standing naked in the middle of a dark room, staring at the now black screen on my phone. I lay down, and turned my face to the ceiling, once again deciding to ignore him, to make him wait.

Adam had other plans, he began calling me, I stared intently at the ceiling as the phone vibrated and glowed inches from my face. It rang once. Twice. On the third call, I snatched the phone up before aggressively answering, “What?”

“Luca, why the fuck has it taken you all day to get back to me?”

His indignant tone did nothing for my already black mood towards him, I audibly spluttered and was just about to launch into a tirade of shit about his attitude, when he cut me off,

“Luca, I’m sorry. I really am. But, I need you, I’m in over my head in a project that… I can’t talk about this on the phone Luca, I need you to come to London. I need your help.”

There was something about that desperate tone in his voice that I had never heard before, it turned my blood to ice. I wanted nothing to do with anything that could make Adam sound that way, never the less, I could hear my voice say the words,

“When do you need me to leave?”

He uttered only one word, before hanging up,

“Now.”

Auras, Souls and Life-force

IMG_4019.jpgI work in a small office with a team of  10 individuals (most of the time) we all vary in age and have come from a number of professional backgrounds and previous vocations. One of the great things about our office, is the range of backgrounds,  we all have very unique stories that brought us to where we are now. While we are all different, one thing we all have in common is a strong personality, and a willingness to share the experiences that have led us to where we are. Recently this led to a fascinating discussion, as to whether or not we have a soul? I know, we don’t ever really do small talk in my office.

The conversation started after a colleague brought up a show she had watched on TV the night before, in the show, they had been discussing God, and one of the commonly asked questions in opposition of such a being,

“If God created everything, and loves us, why does he allow such physical suffering on earth?”

The answer, ‘because God is responsible for your soul, not your body.’

This led to a great discussion, about just exactly what a soul is. My colleague didn’t prescribe to any preconceived religious explanation as to what a soul might be, but she did feel that the soul was a quantifiable and innate part of each person. Personally, I completely agreed with her, I feel that the soul, is a further extension of a person’s consciousness. A life-force which is emitted by the physical being, some people refer to this as an ‘aura’, some even believe they can see these life forces emanating from particularly strong spirited people.

Whether this is true or not, the premise features heavily in the characters I have so far conceived for my main literary project, ‘Phoenix’.

The following is a short story I wrote last year as my creative writing piece which was submitted as part of a Higher English writing portfolio. It is a story which is based upon an experience I had when I was much younger, it is of course a work of fiction, but there are certain elements which reflect a period of my early teens when I spent a great deal of time in and around a children’s hospital. I was there because my twin brother was incredibly ill for a very long time, but it was a place where I was able to witness miraculous recoveries, and terrible losses. While the loss that inspired this piece was not mine, I spent a great deal of time with a young boy while both of our brother’s were cared for, and subsequently got to know his brother, who unfortunately passed away.

*****

The atrium was a façade of colour, like a copious smothering of make up scraped over an ageing face, attempting to hide the blemishes and contours accrued by age. Sky blue paint, had been slathered onto the walls, but was no more appropriate than the meadow of green hued linoleum. The whole atrium was a poor imitation of nature, but as a lion brought from the wild to captivity would wilt over time, so had the décor wilted and withered until it was unmistakeably a man made illusion. I shuddered, suddenly feeling nauseated; the air seemed thick and viscous, each shuddering breath drawing panic from the world around me into my very core. I had to remind myself, this was not just a place where people came to die, but also a place where people could get better.

The hand, which had been on my shoulder since walking through the revolving doors, squeezed gently, reassuring, strong. It reminded me I was not alone.

Bright colours and cartoon characters emblazoned on the walls pervaded my periphery; each one seeming more garish than the last, yet each one held my attention just long enough to give me time to breath. My eyes came to rest on a fragile looking woman who was speaking ever so softly into a bundle of wool in her arms. Whatever resided within so small; that I feared her gentle crooning and stroking would break whatever lay between the folds of the candy pink shroud. Next to her sat a formidable looking woman with a stern expression on her face, as though daring the universe to challenge her. With a shudder I looked away from them, leaving them to their own lives and their own pain.

The sight of the woman as she had cradled her precious burden, had reminded me of the first time I had saw… Her. My mother’s shoulders hung with the same fragility as the woman, yet her demeanour was that of a maternal wolf protecting her infant cubs. I had held my breath as I’d peered at the face, which was almost consumed by the swaddling around it. I reached out to touch her beautiful translucent skin, but my mother reflexively pulled her away, clutching her closer to her bosom, while narrowing her eyes reproachfully. I had waited three long months since being told she would be joining our family, I didn’t understand why her early arrival was not something to celebrate.

A sharp pulse in my temple throbbed as I reminisced over memories of her as she had been then; as I had been then, oblivious to the life we would all be forced to live. I reigned in the emotions, which threatened to overwhelm me, shrugging the hand from my shoulder. I turned to my father, whose eyes, were red rimmed and unusually stoic. Now was not my time to dwell on any of this. This was her time. She had asked that I be here, my father had tried to contest it, but he knew he would not win. I started walking again, knowing without looking that my father followed behind.

The double doors at the back of the atrium led to a formal looking corridor. Gone were the vivid colours, which had adorned every surface, and in their place blocks of pastel tones broke the sparsely decorated, whitewashed walls. Even the posters on the walls seemed formal, informative and they served more purpose than just to entertain. The corridor had seemed to stretch into eternity the first time we had come here. Yet now, we navigated the halls with a well-rehearsed ease. All to soon we were in front of the elevators, already groaning as they descended from above and opened, beckoning us to enter them, before we had even called them. We stepped in, waiting for the doors to close before pressing the button for the fifth floor, as if these small delays could put off what we had come to do.

The heavy wooden fire doors were sealed with an electronic lock, the entryway, usually open to all who came to visit, would stay closed until the first visitors were welcome at 09:00. It unsettled me knowing that I could not just push open the door and run to her. My father pressed the intercom, which crackled, until a harried voice dared us to ask for early entry. The exasperation left her voice instantly on hearing our names. I could not listen to what they were saying, knowing that we were now so close to her. The same nurse who had spoken over the intercom opened the door and beckoned us in; her eyes betrayed her well-trained voice. My father stayed to ask where she had been moved to, but I could not wait to hear.

I walked purposefully to the end of the corridor and stopped before the last door, the curtains were drawn on the inside and the door was closed over but I didn’t hesitate before pushing down on the handle, and opening the door to the private room. My heart fluttered in my chest, plastic lines carried unknown fluids to and from her body, and just below her left breast a dark wound lay open to the world, the wires looked more like the desperate tendrils of a plant creeping out of the shadows into the light. All of her body functions regulated by machines exaggerated the disrepair her body seemed inflicted with. Yet the broken flesh, and shallow breathing did not concern me. Her body was draped in linen sheets and nothing more.

Even as a child she had exuded energy, a soul too powerful for her body to contain, she had always been enveloped in a powerful aura. I had never questioned that I could see this; it seemed just as much a part of her as the smile, which seemed to permanently reside on her face. Seeming so tangible, that I could have reached out a hand to caress the light her skin exuded. It would wrap itself around her like a cloak, and even when her heart had begun to fail, her aura would shine all the brighter making her stronger and carrying her body when it didn’t seem to be able to carry itself.

Stepping over the threshold of the room seemed to break the spell over the other occupant; my mother staggered from the chair she had been perched on. She brought me to her chest without a word and enveloped me in her arms. My father, who had finally caught up with me entered the room, he tried to speak and faltered, instead he fell into the chair, which had only just been vacated by my mother. I disengaged myself from my mother’s arms and crept closer to her bedside. Her face was filled with a serenity, which I had not seen for months.

Gone now was the golden cloak of light, her body seemed much smaller and more vulnerable without it. The air seemed to vibrate for a moment, before her eyes slowly opened, the energy, which I had become so used to seeing when I was with her, was still in her eyes, still in her smile, but it no longer clung to her. Her eyes met mine, and for a perfect moment the universe paused for us. Even as I thought this, the gentle, upwards curve on her lips faltered and she sunk back into her white linen sanctuary as unconsciousness took her once more. In that moment we had shared, I watched as the light in her eyes faded to an incomprehensible glow. Her body continued to breath, an after effect of life perhaps, but where machines can force a heart to beat, nothing could ever contain her soul.

The Original Short Story (Where It All Began)

The following post,  is the original short story which I wrote as part of a creative writing task in High School, while the story has progressed to a stage quite far removed from this original story it is the foundations from which all other works over the past few years have grown.

This is the first piece of creative writing I have shared on here, however over the next few months my hope is to continue posting short stories I have been working on as well as personal reflective pieces from the blog itself. Thank you to all those who have followed so far, and I am grateful to all those who have gotten in touch so far.

The site will continue to develop over the coming weeks as I learn how to properly use WordPress, thank you for your support and your ongoing patience with an infrequent blogger.

Enjoy.

Night

Shafts of light pierced the abrupt darkness that enveloped the grounds of the Manor. Ambiguous shapes flitted through the moonbeams. Their emerald irises gleamed in the reflection of the silent sphere in the sky.

Alexander could only just make out the gate at the bottom of the garden. It blew open with a large crash that echoed unexpectedly in the silence of the empty grounds. The leaves did not crunch as he stepped into the garden, consumed by shadows, padding forth with caution like a skulking dog. Squinting in the cold, eerie light, the Manor dominated his peripheral view, dwarfing him as Goliath before David. There was no sound. Shadows flickered. The moon smiled. Taking light steps he ventured nearer and nearer, and stopped as he reached the dilapidated old building. Alexander could now see that slats, which from years of neglect were cracked and had several spars missing, covered all of the windows. The vines on the grey walls strangled the very life from the Manor. Light steps led towards the main entrance, and as he progressed he saw the aged oak door swing back and forth, the hinges torn at the top corner. Adjacent to this violent entrance, an eight-pointed star glistened against the drab, stone wall, surrounded by words which meant nothing to Alexander. Touching the peculiar design and others on the wall, when Alexander pushed forth the door, he was not aware that his hand was caressed with the velvety darkness of fresh blood.

Admitting Alexander over its threshold, the shadows of the Manor swallowed his very essence. Standing silently in the corner stood a grandfather clock; which even after years of disrepair still commanded its dignity with a majestic air. Moonlight penetrated the gaps in the shutters, and fell upon the pools of blood, which lay at the foot of the ancient maple staircase. Ascending the stairs, he watched, as they grew larger, twisting into beautiful scarlet rosettes. Like a shroud, fear draped over him. Each step was layered with years of dust and as he rose he blessed each silent step. No longer did the blood lie upon the floor, replaced instead by a smear in the dust which led to a solitary door at the end of the corridor. He approached the door and listened intently. There was no sound within this room.

Nerves shot through him, and each breath was short and sharp as his hand stretched out towards the brass handle. An almost inaudible creak reached his ears, he was sure it had come from the confines of this room. Pulling out his gun, he kicked the door open, but could see nothing. Emptiness and a permanent shadow filled every corner of this room. The dead air chilled him and the only light able to defile this absolutely darkened tomb fell upon an archaic ledger lying upon a solitary table. Gun lowered, he approached the table, and he cast his eye inquisitively over the cover. The gold lettering had come off the leather bound tome in most places, but looking closer at them, he could see that they were written in the same unknown language, which he had seen as he had entered this very building. Looking through it Alexander was fascinated to see that it was empty; all except for the middle pages, which had drawn on them a large eight pointed star.

The drawing seemed to glow in the unnatural moonlight as he turned to leave. The cold was relentless. Without warning he fell to the floor, the gun flying from his hand and ricocheting against an invisible wall. A large shapeless entity lay upon the floor; this was the cause of his crash to the ground. He stood and once more walked over to the window. Placing his hands upon the shutters he pulled with all his might. The old wood protested pitifully before finally succumbing to the harsh light, which lay readily behind it; as it fell to the floor the light flooded into the room like warriors hastening to the empty spaces in a battlefield.

Alexander turned and for the first time since he had crossed the very threshold gave an audible gasp. Lying face down upon the floor, a body was draped in an ornate emerald cloak. Inching forward he lowered himself towards the ground, level with this unknown body. He placed his fingers on the victim’s neck, trying to find a pulse. The skin abhorred him in its fetid frozen attitude. But something was not right; the body looked somehow different. Healthy. At peace. Alexander was dimly aware of the fluttering against the window and strange shadows danced upon the carved stone floor. And there they were: Two holes, round and true piercing the skin of this stranger, the life-force drained yet lending a strangely erotic and sensual fullness to the curve of the neck. Alexander was at once repulsed and intrigued.

The shutters rattled, though there was no wind. The moon shone and the puncture marks of the corpse penetrated ominously like the piercing eyes of the soul-less dead.

When the door silently closed behind him, Alexander knew he had finally found what he was looking for.

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