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Story is a 30-day project - Part Five.

Hey, you guys ROCK!!!!! When I read today's comments I really didn't have much work, I just put pieces together. And The Day As It Was is really making good progress. THANKS for all that made the transition from Part Four to Part Five possible. Gosh, I really like it all.
Rules (if any) are still simple: just read the story and put your vision of what should happen next in your comment. I will try to edit those comments in next part of the story every day and add a clue. In less than a month from now... we'll have a true LJ joint-venture story.


The whole story is behind the cut and Microsoft Word version is - again - here.

***


The Day As It Was

I still don't know what the fuck was wrong with that lady on the bus. She was looking, no, not looking, bloody staring at me as if I were some kind of an alien. I tried to catch my reflection in the window to check if I left home snotty or unzipped or something, but as hard as I tried, nothing out of unusual met my eyes. Wherever I moved, there they were; annoying, empty, shallow eyes; stern gaze that already started flirting with downright rudeness. I just couldn't wait for my station to arrive.
As though a barn owl, her stare remained unwavering, nearly unblinking. There was coldness there, impassive and menacing. The closer we came to my stop, the more I felt like prey, exposed and vulnerable. I thought I was going to make it home-free. I could see through the window that the bus was approaching my stop, and I was getting ready to shuffle to the exit, when, in a deep and growly voice that sounded like it came from the depths of Hell itself, she addressed me.
"Do you remember me?" she said. "Do you remember seeing me two weeks ago, on this very bus, while you were talking to a tall man with brownish hair and a beard?" My mind took a few twists and turns, but nothing useful, nothing that would make any sense, nothing that might somehow connect me to this creature appeared. I just stood there, unable to utter a word.
"A curse!" she snarled, "A curse for what you've done. You caused it, now you must pay." I couldn’t stand that anymore. My stop was there and I bolted for the door. Looking back at the bus as it was leaving, I didn't see her.

***

I could not stop thinking about her; I even checked the news paper to see if there was any mention of escaped mental patients, anything. Something about her really shook me. That night I felt like a little kid again, needing to check under the bed for monsters.
Morning came and I woke with a jolt, heart beating an insane rhythm in my chest, yesterday’s event still vibrant in my thoughts. Was it all a dream? I padded to the bathroom and turned the hot water to the sink to splash away the remaining sleep. Face dripping I wipe the condensed steam from the mirror only to see the crone looking back at me.
My skin shrank, heart tried to escape and the air just left my body. I don't know, I might have fainted a little, I might have lost my mind, but I am completely sure the creature touched me, leaving a deep scar in my subconscious; my scream was silenced by my fear. I closed my eyes, yet my other senses remained alert, kept alive by the rush of adrenaline too wild to control.
"A curse for what you've done. You caused it, now you must pay." My mirror was clear again, reflecting my pale face, eyes full of fear. I was alone again. My body was at least. A cold chill that ran up my spine, then dissolved as a burning heat in my right palm refocused my eyes. A rivulet of blood trickled into the sink, snaking its way to the drain.

Blood.
My blood.
My razor imbedded in my palm as I clutched the basin, bringing me back to reality. I was alone.
And bleeding.

I went to the kitchen to make some breakfast, hoping to shake the nightmares. However, everything seemed to evoke it. The kettle seemed to whistle, "Remembeeer" as the water boiled. I quickly unplugged it. As I was pouring the water for tea, the toaster snapped, "Curse" as it popped my toast up. It made me jump and I scalded my hand.
What did I do? What do I need to remember?
I dressed without knowing I was dressing. My chest tight with anxiety, my heart pounding at the tiniest noise. The taste of bile in my mouth, my breakfast tasted like ashes. As I walked to the bus my eyes darted trying to catch sight of the old. My mind was filled with thoughts. Was it a dream? Was it real?
When a voice shattered my confusion. "Excuse me," came a male voice, from behind me. I turned around, and there was that stranger approaching me, with a smile on his face. A tall man with brownish hair and a beard.
"Well, hello there. Remember me?" he said and his palm was just floating in the air waiting for me to grasp it, to grasp my senses, my mind, my totally out-of-focus mind. "Well, pardon me, but no. I really don't. Have we met before?" It really caught me off-guard, because his was the face I would definitely remember. It would probably be one of those "I was looking back to see if you were looking back at me to see me looking back at you" moment, alas... My memory was blank.

***

So, that was it. Two weeks ago it happened. That tall man with brownish hair and a beard (and a killer smile) laid it all open. It's a scientific experiment. It's called OneMind-ManyBodies. And I am in it. Right. Guess all of my bodies forgot about that.
It was a bit much to take it all in. He spoke so calmly, so "matter-of-factly", that it almost seemed plausible. They had covertly tested the blood I'd donated at last January's blood drive, for markers that showed I was a biological candidate. Only one in several thousand were capable of making the transfer, he said. Some sort of neural peptide I possess, one that is capable of crossing not only the blood-brain barrier, but the skin. It allowed access to my mind once I had been given the enhancement.
"The enhancement? But how?" I asked.
He smiled again. "In your coffee. Nearly flavourless, other than a subtle sweetness. It takes a bit of time to bind to your neural network. At first, it only allows others to enter, to take your body for a test drive, so to speak. After time, it does allow passage both ways."

Instant flashback. I should have never accepted that strange beverage. I'm sure I asked for ma usual macchiato, but the man poured something out of a bottle, pushed the glass towards me and, sensing my indecision, just grinned and nodded.
I have never been good at saying no.
"Oh well" - I asked myself - "what's the worst it can happen?" and downed it in one go.
Now I know.

"Both ways? But how?" So puzzled, I was reduced to echoing his words. With that he reached across the table and took my hand with both of his. I felt a gentle tingle, a warmth where his skin met mine, as my vision blurred. I blinked to clear my sight, once and then again, then found myself staring across that table, not at a tall bearded man with brownish hair, but rather, at my own face.
"See how that works?" he asked. Well, I was pretty sure aware of what was going on, yet totally clueless how I should achieve the same effect. I really don't like to be pushed around like a tiny, worthless object. Oh and this surely made me feel worthless. It was even worse. I felt like a total idiot, sitting there, allowing that man to swap my eyes for his, my mind for what I think is his, to just… swap me. No, it surely didn't feel right.
"So people with the know were allowed to take my body for a test drive, so to speak. And is there a chance of me knowing what I was up to while being on that joyride? Some not so subtle bits and pieces told me I've been up to awfully no good, not to mention visions, no not visions, hallucinations. No, you need to fix me and please fix me soon."
From what he kept on telling me I was in a way infected. And I should be terribly capable. The consciousness of my mind should jump to another's body, I should be able to share my mind with my host, while retaining control of the body and memories. That was theory.
And then came the sweet part. He told me something went wrong with me. Somewhere down the road, I got watered down. Spread thinly amongst numerous hosts. And not really capable of controlling my memories and from what I've experienced in the morning… not really capable of controlling my body either.
"So, you know how to deal with me being… watered down?"
"Well, yes… Theoretically."
"Theoretically? Theoretically!?"
The voice in my head sounded like mine, the voice coming out of my mouth did not. It was very disturbing.
"Put me back in my own body!" I hissed at him.
He calmly replied, "I can't. We don't know where your body is."
"You're in it!"
"No, I'm not. This isn't your body"
He reached across and touched my arm. The tingle. The warmth. I was back staring at the tall man with brownish hair and a beard.
"That," he continued, "is the problem"
"Could it be?" I thought to myself. I looked into his eyes and saw the same unspoken certainty."I think..." and just before I finished what I was about to say. He grabbed my hand.. but this time nothing happened. I was still inside my... well, what I thought was my body.
"It seems you happened upon someone who was a candidate, but unenhanced and during a rather intimate moment, you inadvertently made a partial transfer. Actually, I'm fairly certain you've done that twice. Possibly even more, though the statistically, that would be unlikely."
His brow furrowed, as he tried to find the proper words.
"We didn't know your proclivities when we gave you the enhancement."
"What are you talking about?" I growled, half under my breath. I struggled not to reach for his throat, except that would have been my throat. Or was it?
"Oh, we knew of your preference for other men. We hadn't realized you would be active with more than one at a time."
At first my anger grew, feeling as though he was blaming me for this, but that ebbed as I searched my memory, it began to crystallise within the ether that was now my brain. I had gone to the baths.
I searched through the fog of memory. I remembered walking down a darkened hall, a thin white towel about my waist, a fine gold ring adorning my left nipple, half hidden in the forest of hair across my chest. I reached now for my chest. Through my shirt I could feel no trace of the ring.
I lifted the collar of my tee; below my chest, smooth as a child's and my nipples prominent, yet no sign of either ever having been pierced. Was the towel wrapped man in the mist me, or was this hairless chest mine? Who am I? And even more importantly, where? And within whom?
Then the thought came to me: that woman on the bus. She knew something. Something that I, or somebody else in this body that I was currently inhabiting, had done. I described the woman to him as best I could, but he said he didn't know her, and had no memory of having ever seen her. I had to find that woman! It dawned on me that the crazy woman knew me very intimately, because I was part of her.

She knew.

I had to stop her before she could talk but then would have anyone really believed her?

***

He said he really can't do much for me in this particular confusion, but he promised me to stay in touch every day. He left me there, sitting all alone in what was one giant storm of panic, fear and total cluelessness of what's going on with me. Which of those many minds was I supposed to be? And this - one and only goddammit - body... was it really me? From what I understood my mind, my soul, my inner essence got dissolved and dispersed among... No useful answer came to mind and I think I made the only conclusion that seemed fit at that time. Build on what was already there. So... old lady, crone, my arch enemy, the one who cursed me. I need to look for her. In this world of mine, totally blown to smithereens - no matter how bizarre that might have seemed - she is apparently the only anchor I can rely on.
On my way back to sanity. Which seemed to be a word majestically out of proportions at that time. And as always, I looked for refuge in music. What popped out in my ears hasn't really helped me much. At all.

Like a ghost through the snow
He's melting his way back home
Hoping they'll leave him alone
Through the doors voices raise
Running through all of the history
Fuelled by afternoon whiskey

Sometimes I shut my eyes and I fly
Over the mountains over the city
And sometimes I shut my eyes and I cry
'Cause I just need my freedom from pity
Freedom from pity


Right. That's where I was. 

 


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Comments

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
wuffnuff
Oct. 2nd, 2009 03:03 pm (UTC)
Sorry I missed the last few days, my schedule has been a mess at work and I am all out of sorts. Now, to the story!

He's melting his way back home

Wait, just wait. The song suddenly made me think. If parts of me are truly spread out into several hosts shouldn't all but the earliest memories share some common thread? his way back home Maybe just maybe those bits would have the same desire to return to a place so important to us, well me. I knew exactly who and where would call to us. It called to me now. Would the crone be drawn there as well? I thought as I started to walk.
paterson_si
Oct. 2nd, 2009 07:21 pm (UTC)
Thanks! :) I will use it tomorrow. I think I'll take a day of break and then go on with a FULL blast! :)
grizzlyd
Oct. 3rd, 2009 02:44 am (UTC)
Can we give the tall beaded guy a name? and that old lady, later on?
The air started feeling heavier and heavier as I walked, I stopped for a moment trying to catch my breath. It was getting worse, I was almost starting to gasp for air, when all of sudden I heard sirens of an approaching ambulance. I could tell from it's speed that it's not gonna stop for me, I started breathing better as it went past me. It was one of those moments where few seconds seemed like forever. I felt the same warmth and tickling that I felt when the tall bearded guy tough my hand earlier today, but this time was even stronger. My breathing went back to normal.. I was sure something or somebody in there, made me feel better some how, I had to follow that ambulance. I rushed into the Street "TAXI".. I swiftly jumped in... "Follow that ambulance... Please hurry".
paterson_si
Oct. 3rd, 2009 12:13 pm (UTC)
Re: Can we give the tall beaded guy a name? and that old lady, later on?
Thanks... Part Six comes out tonight. :)

Names... in a while, yes. :)
osodecanela
Oct. 3rd, 2009 03:40 am (UTC)
Tomaz, I am so frustrated at this moment I could spit.

Last night, I sat on my iPhone working on an entry. Then just as I was about to hit the send button, the phone died and along with it everything I had written.

I've just spent the better part of 45 minutes re-working that entry, only to have my laptop power down just as I reached the finishing touches and once again,*poof*, no more entry.

Since you said above you going to take a day's break, I'm going to head off for home, and tomorrow morning we'll try again.

Technology: can't live with it, can't live without it.
paterson_si
Oct. 3rd, 2009 12:13 pm (UTC)
hehehehehehe sounds like a nightmare. ;) Don't worry, I will wait for you, cannot imagine finishing a day's work without your entry. :)

HUGS
tilia_tomentosa
Oct. 3rd, 2009 07:51 pm (UTC)
Oh, poor you! :)
osodecanela
Oct. 3rd, 2009 10:29 pm (UTC)
Okay, now for take #3:

Odd, as I sat there alone in the café. I knew exactly where I was and yet, I felt so lost. Music, something that so often gave me solace was not reaching me, at least not the song that popped in my ears. Another café I knew, no more than a block away featured music. Moving there might be of some help I thought, at least that is, if no one was singing the blues. I figured at 10 in the morning, that would be unlikely.

The second coffee house was nearly empty. A young couple flirted with one another over coffee and croissants. Three tables away, a middle-aged man peered intently at his laptop screen. Off to the side, the barista was polishing her espresso machine. Seeing me seat myself, she paused, then sauntered in my direction. "Your usual macchiato?" I nodded.

There was no music this morning. No guitarist strumming my pain with his fingers. No pianist pouring himself into his keyboard. Midway through my coffee I rose and walked to the piano myself. After staring a few moments at the keys, I sat, stretched my fingers and began to play. A Chopin Sonata emerged, vaguely familiar though neither terribly satisfying, nor particularly soothing. If music soothes the savage breast, this was not it. What to play? What to play?

Somewhere in my mind, a soothing voice suggested Gershwin. His Rhapsody in Blue, so hopeful, so assertive; yes I thought, that's the ticket. With that, my fingers began to attack the keys, perhaps more forcefully than I should, but my heart needed release, for once even more than my groin. Moments later the barista appeared, this time not with coffee, but her viola. Soon she was followed by the kitchen's cook who entered stage left, a violin tucked beneath his chin. I now had my makeshift orchestra.

We played, point and counterpoint, our instruments answering one another, the lyric theme segued to staccato piano matched by pizzicato strings, then vivace gave way to a graziola reprise. As we played, the couple stopped their flirting, the computer jock his wordprocessing. New patrons arrived, and rapt, took their seats. Our music took precedence over caffeine. Then with the final crescendo into the last reprise, it ended, to a round of applause much more raucous than normal for this venue.

Picking up her viola case, the barista leaned forward and murmured she needed to get back to work. "All this time that you've come in here, I never knew that you played so well, let alone at all."
"I don't. I mean, I didn't."
Her eyes narrowed, and then she shrugged, not sure if I was being obtuse or modest.

I stared down at my hands. To my knowledge, I had never played the piano before.
tilia_tomentosa
Oct. 4th, 2009 12:31 am (UTC)
Wow, and this is something you had to start from scratch for the THIRD time? *is very impressed*

Tomaz, this is a little in Igor's field. LOL
osodecanela
Oct. 4th, 2009 05:54 am (UTC)
*blush* Thanks for the complement.
paterson_si
Oct. 4th, 2009 08:22 am (UTC)
This is simply wonderful, Mr. Weaver. And I mean it, really.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )