*WIP = Works in Progress
[spoilerDONE: The Heart of the Busy Professor:32n1h9sq]Through the frosted glass was the breath of black that swept through the concealed night skies, pierced by the great edifices New York takes pride in. In the winter it would turn dusk rather quickly, so often times Dion Booker, the busy professor, would miss the sunset of which he so desperately wanted to reacquaint. His work kept him away from the window and the beauty of reds and oranges and yellows, forcing his analytical gaze to the gray research and the bleak newspaper"s crime activity section. It did not matter whether he did have the time, though, as the window faced dawn-wards, another light he would too miss due to his lecturing at the private college of which he worked.
The only distraction he had time for, albeit only when he found the time to swig, was the very symbol of his motivation. The current drive of his endeavors was the picture of Alana Hart, a woman perhaps aging just as slowly as the portrait. Even for a man who"s passion for his work kept him from truly being alive, his one weakness would somehow find her way passed a majority of the labyrinth inside Booker"s head. The very perfection in her picture was an overburden to Booker, and he refused to be basked sober. Due to recent events, however, he may have to be.
Soon he would reunite with Miss Hart, the woman in the picture on the wall. A decade of research, a different vocation, and a couple of drinks later he would stumble upon a criminal in relation to the kidnap of his wife. Booker had prepared for this day many years ago. Despite the practice and emotional preparation he could not find the will to grip the gun he kept below the picture on his desk. The gun he possessed belonged to the Dion Booker of the past, a man who was fueled by his perspicacity and sought retribution, often times off the record. This new Booker was however a man of reason, and claimed that the gun was for self defense.
Two knocks on the door parallel the window brought him back to the reality of his terribly unclean apartment complex. Making a vein effort to clean the room, he kicked the open books laying about into a corner, threw the laundry back into his drawer and grabbed the gun. Upon contact he hesitated for just a moment, reasoning that having it out in the open was not the greatest of ideas, and stuffed it to the back of the drawer in his desk. Just after and without warning, his long time friend since the days at the police academy, and also working colleague barged in. Booker sat as his desk, scribbling on a sheet of paper, a clever ruse he had nearly perfected to avoid being caught red handed. â€œYou know better than to hide from me, Dion.â€ The colleague said. â€œWas that a gun I caught a glimpse of? Did the force finally take you back?â€
But the busy professor did not attempt to make eye-contact, and the hesitation that the colleague said only worsened his assumption. â€œYou found something, haven"t you?â€ He leaned on the door frame, crossing his long arms over his casual suit. â€œThis is exactly why you weren"t allowed back, you know.â€
â€œAvery, you of all people should understand.â€ He dropped the feint and as he leaned back away from the desk to meet Avery"s eyes, his chair squeaked. â€œThink about Alana.â€
â€œDon"t try and use my emotions against me, Booker. Alana left a long time ago. You know I don"t dwell on past affairs.â€ He uncrossed his arms and stuffed them in his pockets, still leaning.
â€œFunny. Hey, don"t I remember you just pleading me to take you to her grave after that round a few nights ago?â€ He put his left arm on the desk and leaned his head on his hand while averting his gaze to the window by the cracked mirror, opposite the door.
The colleague stood up straight. â€œI"m just trying to help you, Dion. Don"t play this game with me.â€ He gritted his teeth for just a moment, holding himself back. â€œJust…â€ He started, but wish he hadn"t, as he did not want to say anything that would deeply hurt his close friend anymore. He let out, â€œConsider drinking my painkiller.â€ He moved his eyes again, tracing back o the drawer that contained the gun. â€œ…What is the gun really for, Booker?â€ But before the busy professor could reply, Avery said â€œAnd don"t say self defense. I know you better than that.â€
Booker stood from his tiring chair. At first he was furious. His long time colleague had never doubted his reasons, and that was something he respected. Realizing, however, that his friend did deserve to know, he opted to tell him the truth. Even though it was a fallacy he tricked himself into believing, it really was the urge to deliver swift justice to the kidnapper who"d stolen his Hart.
â€œIf the person who took her is there, I"ll kill him.â€ Avery took his hands out of his pockets and walked over to the desk. â€œIs that so?â€ He stood in front of Booker, looked at his stained clothes. It was then he noticed Booker"s red tie was loosened and he had several stains on his shirt and suspenders. Evidently he hadn"t changed his clothes for quite some time. Slightly disgusted by his appearance, he looked away for a brief moment and locked eyes with the extra bullet on the other side of the picture, somewhat hidden by the open books. â€œ…And the other bullet, next to your picture right there?â€ The colleague inquired.
â€œIf I find out she"s gone…â€ He choked. â€œForever, I mean…â€
â€œIf you find out she"s dead, you mean?â€
Booker stood up and grasped the cold emotionless grip of leather and steel, as well as the two bullets, perhaps faster than he should have. He paused a moment, Avery still looking at him.
He fought back his tears and looked away. After regaining the little composure he had left, he
equipped the ammunition. He dug into the cabinet on the side of the desk facing the window and brought out a holster. He clipped it to his pants. He moved to the coat rack and put on his jacket, concealing the weapon. â€œWell don"t we all have our painkillers?â€
Sometime later, but before the sun fully set, Booker found himself in a seat at the bar, the location for the rendezvous between Miss Hart"s kidnapper and another supposed criminal, also in relation. He had abstained from drinking for the time being, but the tender was determined to sell him something. The bar tender approached him again. â€œSir, what kind of man goes to a bar and doesn"t order a drink?â€
Finally fed up with the approaches, Booker let the tender in on some of the details. â€œ…I"m looking for this guy.â€ He pulled out a picture of a man, who did not have any notable features on him. The bar tender took it and looked it over. â€œThe man in blue?â€ He asked, as there were multiple people in the shot.
â€œHe comes in every now and then, always with the same lady. Weird looking couple. The chick always looks anxious.â€ His voice got softer. He grabbed an empty bottle near them and began cleaning it.
â€œAnd? What did she look like?â€ Booker"s back straightened. His own anxiety in his eyes reflected in his voice. The tender saw this and took advantage of it.
â€œDon"t know, don"t care. How about a drink?â€
â€œI"ll buy all the drinks you have, just tell me what the girl looks like.â€
The tender smiled and leaned onto the marble counter in front of them. â€œTo be honest, the most beautiful miss to ever walk into this old bar. Not once have I seen anyone that immaculate.â€ Booker pulled another picture, the one that had rested over his desk, and gave it to the tender. â€œThat her?â€
â€œBingo.â€ He replied. â€œI saw her and him go upstairs a couple of hours ago, actually. Maybe the roof. How about that drink, now?â€
â€œYou"ll get your money if they"re up there.â€ And the tender sighed. Of course he wouldn"t.
After being directed to the rusted steel door to the floors above, Booker stepped through. He looked up. This was an unused fire escape, built from the bottom of the skyscraper to the top. He walked to the base of the escape and looked up, passed the flights of old metal stairs. He swore under his breath, hoping the tender hadn"t lied to con him out of cash. He ascended, cautious and soundless, step by step, up the stairs that seemed to pierce the clouds. With each step his breath waned, and his soul gravitated back to the first floor. He became conscious of his own body"s weight and often looked up into the foggy black ceiling. Five flights, ten, thirty. Illusions plagued him on the journey. They toyed with him, danced around him and confused the poor professor. At one point he tripped, and the sweat burned his eyes, and tears just as salty rolled into his mouth. The physical stress collapsed him. The thin air stole whatever breath he attempted to draw. And he would continue. A door similar to the entrance to his apartment ended the peril. Booker stood just a step behind, hand on the knob. For a moment he forgot his reason for being there, but in a flash the memory invigorated him. He remembered how much he loved his wife, and hated the crime of her kidnap, as well as the lack of process the law was making to save her. The people killed by her captor and the failure to respond to anything relating to them boiled him. The years spent searching, calculating, tracking, and sleuthing had elevated his soul and blood to new heights.
Adrenaline surged and instead of opening the door, he broke the knob and kicked barrier down.
Light flushed into his eyes. Blindly he lunged forward, drawing his gun. His vision unable to make out the figure before him. It started to speak. â€œDion Booker…?â€ Faint and beautifully spoken.
Booker squinted and the colors of the sunset behind the figure came to light. He kept the gun pointed at the victim across the roof. â€œAre you the man in blue?â€
â€œMaybe. Is your blue different from mine?â€ It chuckled, deviously. Bookers vision focused crisply and to his jaw-dropping awe he was face-to-face with none other than Alana Hart.
â€œ… Alana, love? Is that you?â€
She stepped back. The red dress she wore in the picture Booker kept for years looks well-kept, and flows tactless of the wind, as if in it flows in its own direction. She curled her fingers to her palm. â€œDear, sweet, Booker. Is that you?â€ She mimicked. â€œPut the gun down, honey.â€
He walked forward, his gun lowered informally at his side. She stepped back, and when he noticed this, he stopped. â€œAlana, it"s fine! I"ve come to help you!â€
â€œIs that so…?â€ She sneered. â€œYou"ve finally come to help me?â€
â€œThe police never do their job, I"m sorry it took so long! Are you hurt?â€ He looked at her red dress. Stains of shades darker than her gown decorated her. He noticed the way her hands glistening with the ruby fluid, and traced the liquid down to the edge of the knife she wielded tightly. He choked. â€œLove… What-â€
Suddenly she interrupted, bursting. â€œBooker, please stop.â€ She shook her head, her eyes dilating madly. â€œGo away. Why did you follow me? Answer me. Leave and answer me!â€ The knife without the hand gripped her hair.
â€œ…Dear you"re not making any sense!â€ He spread his arms out. â€œWhy are you holding that knife-â€ As he asked, he looked back. Behind her body was a pool of maroon spreading ever further. A man with no notable features lie dead on the ground, a suit once blue now red.
â€œDid… Did you kill your kidnapper?â€
â€œYou never loved me, have you?â€
â€œWhat?! How could you say that?!â€ His voice cracked. He stepped closer, and again she moved back.
â€œI was never kidnapped, Dion.â€ She half-smiled, but it faded into a scowl. â€œI wasn"t well.â€
â€œHoney, please. We can go home and-â€
â€œLet me finish, Professor Booker.â€ She spat. He was quiet. With her free hand she held the end of her hair. Booker stood up straight and nodded, a confused and needy look on his face. â€œ… You"re so selfish…â€ Her eyes watered up, though it may be due to the toxins in her body. She continued. â€œDay by day you sat at your stupid… chair.â€ She struggled, not thinking before she spoke. â€œAnd your job… Oh your job! Tell me, deeear.â€ Her voice grew, and the poor professor stepped back. â€œDo you remember the picnic we had at the beginning? The one with the little duckies that ate our bread.â€
Booker searched his mind. Duckies? What was she talking about? â€œYes, I remember.â€ Under pressure, his mistake had been made.
â€œNo you do not! It never happened! The rain washed the park out! Ow!â€ Her head scorched. She pulled harder on her hair. â€œOh Booker! Oh Dion! Oh Professor! You say you love me, but what do you know about our love? You were never there to see it!â€ She shrieked, and her words touched his soul.
â€œAlana-â€ But she shot daggers at his throat, and he froze dead in his tracks.
â€œInterrupting me is one of the reasons I left, you know, honey.â€ She stepped to the side, walking at fixed distance, but to the side of the roof. â€œYou always had something so much more important to say. And can you guess what it was about, Booker?â€ She looked at him, her face much more calm. Her true colors burst again as she yelled â€œGuess, Booker!â€
â€œOh! Well… Um.â€ He could not find the words. â€œAlana look…â€
She held the blade at her neck. â€œBooker. Guess. Come on, Mr. Philosophy. Reason with me.â€
And he blinked. â€œMy job?â€
â€œAh! We have a winner, people!â€ She was controlled by hysteria as she spun around the side of the roof. â€œYou and your stupid, small job! Nothing but a way to mask the disappointing amount dignity you have!â€ She took a deep breath, and hacked. â€œ… I got sick of it, literally. I was so ignored. I needed attention, medical attention. And you shrugged me off like an old term paper! Oh but no! You would have payed more attention to that than a dog to a bone!â€
Booker looked down, reuniting his gaze with the pool of blood.
â€œIt"s all your fault!â€ She yelled, throwing her back into it. â€œYour stupid, stupid fault! I hate you! You made me do it!â€ She shrieked, her eyes were closed.
â€œ…Do what?!â€ He asked.
â€œYou made me find my own help. You didn"t go with me. You know how I am, how I was! I was afraid. I was dying, Booker! Who could I turn to! Without money, without my love to help me! I got desperate! And I truly learned what it was like to dance with the devil in the pale moonlight, Booker. And then I met him. The man in red over there.â€ She pointed to the corpse. â€œAnd he showed me new ways to think. He gave me the medication I needed… A bit under the counter, I should say… He kept me like this. Alive and beautiful. He took my worries away, my dear. And all I had to do was help him with his business.â€ She smiled. â€œSomething you might be interested in.â€
â€œThe murders…â€ He said below his breath, but she heard every word.
â€œOf course you would guess that on the first try. Ah yes, the great and busy Professor Booker is a genius! I mean, you can remember something that never even happened!
Her taunts bit his throat. He took the mauling.
She tilted her head. â€œOh dear, sweet, Dion. I bet you never once thought about me instead
of my “kidnapper”.â€ She dropped the knife. â€œYou only chased after me because I"m a part of the thrilling mystery. Like a beautiful plot laid right before you, waiting for you, just you, to solve it,
right?â€ He was silent. She kept going. â€œLift your gun, Booker. Point it at me. It"s a part of your job, remember?â€
He couldn"t look at her. Tears slid further down his face. His arm was shaky. Booker"s adrenaline had turned into a pot of acid, burning his throat and giving him nausea. She yelled at him and he listened to her, pointing the gun at her, even pulling the safety. He would do anything she said to get her back.
â€œ…Your job brought you to kill a killer, right?â€ The sun was nearly done falling. â€œWell here I am. Covered, and even red handed. The weapon has my prints, Booker. It"s the perfect chance for you to get back on the force. It"s what you"ve wanted.â€ Her lips magnified her words with every precise expression of anger and insanity. â€œWhat will you do, love? I"m both the killer and your heart.â€ She laughed. â€œFinally, now is your chance to tell me how you feel… Will you come back from work today? Maybe if you really love me…â€ She jumped, suddenly happiness was in her voice, â€œYou"ll let me run away?â€
Had his eyes been bigger they would have popped. His mouth just ajar, but teeth chattering like he was stranded in the coldest of winters. The hand holding the trigger wobbled, and his grip loosened to where the gun was just laying in his palm.
The worst part about emotional and mental morals, aside from their near inability to be broken, is that when there is a difficult situation that requires one but not the other, deciding which one belongs is war. In that moment, it is the most important to be true with yourself and others. Before the choice is made, the instant before either option is picked, there is a brief moment of silence between the soul and mind. In that moment, Booker decided. His hand rose to steady the gun, lining it up. The safety already off. His eyes closed and time froze solid. The sun set, the world hidden. In his moment of clarity he decided to end it all. There, on the roof of the skyscraper that overlooked the clouds, masked by the cover of night, the busy professor shot his Hart, once in her mind, once in her soul, and finally, both for justice.
[spoilerWIP: The Long Life of Miss Amelia Watts:32n1h9sq]Red curtains which used to be blue wavered by the broken window above the scattered shards of glass that reflected the moonlight onto the stained ceiling of the hotel room. The only sources of light were the shattered fragments on the floor, as the bulbs in the lamps had burnt out some time ago, and there were no sources of true luminescence from above. The walls, that were possibly white at one point, but are now red and beige, look as if the paint had been forcefully picked off. The floor was a moldy carpet. Perhaps once upon a time it was a lovely shade of blue, but that may have been long ago, before water made it its home. The closet was open, and it looked to be filled with garden supplies. One of which, a machete, was slicing through the air and heart of Miss Amelia Watts. She had been dead for the longest, but the murderer still loomed over her, stabbing at her breast, spewing blood on the walls and curtains. Like an ape, the murderer bashed on her body. Once with his hand and twice with his blade.
They say death is a surprise to everyone in Aldriche. But not to Miss Amelia Watts and her family. More than anyone, they seemed to be aware of the impending fate. In this world, people are blessed with a certain longevity that originated from the descendants of evolution. The Longevity was a vaccine that would boost the immune system to such extremes. A good health, better for a thousand years. These new people live for a much, much longer time than any person would in the twenty-first century now. The medicine was a blessing. Many people swarmed hospitals for their chance to live longer. Eventually it became common, however not universal. Miss Amelia Watts" family derives from those who did not evolve with the world. The Watts were part of the quaint group who stayed in the past, the twenty-first century, and decided against The Longevity, to live a fifth as long as the New Era of the 23rdC does. Though her family felt ostracized by the population containing The Longevity, Miss Amelia Watts did not take to the vibe. She would advocate her race, the Short Lived as jokers would call them, and promote equality. The Short Lived were prejudiced, called Death Seekers often. They were stereotyped to be Gothic, pessimistic people who loathed the idea of eternal life. Labeled as highly religious and serious people throughout their seemingly shorter days, they would die with humility and curses at their grave. In actuality, this was a terrible generalization bred from the idea started by the people of the Short Lived who proclaimed that death is the only escape, and long lives would bring long years of chaos to the rest of the world. Miss Amelia not only detested this notion, but also loathed the prejudice her kind faced. Why should the kind who do not fit the description fall with those who do? She was content with her years. Amelia never needed more, is all.
[spoilerWIP: The Pariah:32n1h9sq]"…and in the void birthed a rock, and as such a newborn, it wept. Akin to a baby weeping for its first meal, the rock too cried for its desires. From the dry trenches, the salty tears climbed up for their first taste of air. Pleased with their new discovery, they got together and flooded the holes of the rock, consuming as much air as they needed. Still with the rock"s new friend, the water, he continued to cry out. “Why, why oh why am I so alone?” It screamed to the ocean. It gestured a shrug in the waves, for they could not speak as the rock did. So the rock turned towards the sky and again pleaded “Please, I don"t want to be alone! The darkness… it"s so cold…” And so the ocean opened the rock"s eyes, parting the clouds in the sky. Through the cold gates was the void. In that void, one by one, then two by two, the flickering of lights gave vision to the rock. One in particular, the sun, extended its arms. “Come, my loved one. Allow me to comfort you.” But the rock could not reach. “Why, sun? Am I being punished? I"ve only been born, what did I do?”" But the sun replied “My child, you know not the consequences of what you weep for.” The ocean calmed, listening to the transcendent voice of the sun. “What of the ocean? Is she not your friend?” And the rock pleaded again. “My elder, my sun, how can I love one who cannot return my voice?” And the sun stood quiet. Glistening with light, and backed up by the glow of the distant stars, it spoke again to the rock. “You do not value your closest friend, a friend since birth. How can I grant your wish, when even you do not return your desires?”
And the rock called out, “I will listen to you, my sun! I will befriend and love the ocean, but in this void she is not enough.” And so the sun pondered for six eons, and when the rock and the ocean became the one called earth, the sun said, “Now, I will grant you your wish.”
And that is how our spirits came to be. Man, civilization. In the covenant with the sun we were created to bond with the earth and to share love with it, so it may understand what true kinship is."
A small girl, wrapped in the clothes of discarded bags and raggedy, torn up hand-me-downs came up to the Pariah. She rose her bruised, cloth-wrapped foot onto his boot, elevating her view into his mask. She held tightly onto his cloak, so as not to fall, and when it looked like she struggled, he put her on his lap. “Yes, Amelia?” He said, his voice clearer and more calm than any man"s, despite wearing a mask.
“I don"t get it.” She said, pouting and crossing her delicate arms. My mommy said we evolved from bacteria gazillions of billions of trillions years ago!"
The other children kneeling before him gasped at the little girl"s skepticism. One shouted “Hey! My dad said that too!” and others rallied up. A small boy no older than seven stood up. “Are you trying to fool us, mister?”
“No, kids. I promise you all I"m not. Think about the story and how it relates to you. How the rock pleads for a friend, but only gets what it wants because he started caring about others rather than itself. Now doesn"t that make sense?” The small boy sat down, and the little girl left his lap to rejoin the others. The Pariah stood up.
“I promise, I"ll tell you a better story at a later date. Maybe the one about the dinosaurs and the space ship? Or the man who came from a balloon-box in the sky?” And the children laughed. Several of them hugged the Pariah, and ventured off, all except the little girl.
“Hey again, Gelly-bean.”
“Oh I"m just teasing! Come on, what"s up?”
The girl slowly came up to him and hugged his leg. She came up to just his knees. He rested his hand on her head. She began to cry. “I love you Mister Man. I love you and your cool stories that don"t make no sense.” Her nose leaked and the ocean left her eyes. “Why do you always leave after your stories? Why can"t you stay with me?”
He knelt down, hunched his back over to bond with her eyes. Through his mask he said “I"ll come back again some day. And one day I will stay. But I can only stay once I finish my part of the sun"s promise.”
“But you don"t have an ocean, mister man. You always say you don"t have one. That means you"ll never come back!” She sobbed.
“The rock did not know the ocean, Gelly-bean. Not until it listened to her calling. I just have to keep listening.”
“What if I"m your ocean? Maybe if you stay here with me, you can get a life just like the rock did!”
And the Pariah chuckled. “Miss Angeline, I know the voice of my ocean. My problem is I cannot find her.”