Boon or bane, are you the rail-switch or a dead lay?
The cacophony of whispers spoke too oft to me: quiet cascades shuffling to-and-fro ruthlessly. Is it too early? Am I too late? Are we a hair's-breadth nigh? Have they made ready? Does Fate even care- yea, and it is not my hands in which She hath bestowed power over destinies?
A scent of black coffee and red wine hinted with decay, and a touch of lavender, filled the room. Billows of Nat Sherman smoke wafted about, occasionally orbiting the scintilla of a sheen that reflected from an obscure corner. Sporadically flickering for durations akin to three blinks-of-an-eye, at random locations, were disembodied black zuit-suits in white pinstripes that topped themselves with grim hats. Two men idled at a cocktail table which was checkered purple-black. The table was stained by an outline imprinted at its center, as though a book that had sat there for absolute centuries had just been removed but moments ago.
There were cards, die, a couple zippos and a mirrored mask.
On the left, one man was sleight-of-build. He wore a black & tattered overcoat with leather pauldrons, sported a silver tie and carried a humble 9mm outside his thigh. On the right was Giovanni: an orcish-looking boy built like an adult. Barrel-chested and broad-shouldered, he was fitted with quite the elegant finery as a mix of steam-punk things and cuffed of 1930's pinstripe themes. A couple tenuous lines of jagged gray fanned out toward the left from the center of his greased-back widow's peak. Strapped upside-down to his left upper arm, secured in a sheath, was a half-length machete.
"These die are silly," said the thin and shaded man to Giovanni with furtive disdain, "Er they bleed on the table from my hand, what chance have they in spontaneity?"
The broad-shouldered silhouette leaned forward over the cocktail table. Obscured by a bright and gawdy lampshade behind him, Giovanni asserted, "Azk y'erself inztead... when iz that ever y'er conzern?"
Vellichor suddenly filled the room and the air contracted once, then twice; three times.
"..be....m y ..... . . .m o rr-r .. e n do . .. . . ... . .. . . .."
"But I am the god."
I awoke to a mellifluous gurgle at a disquieting juncture in my mind.
"I was asleep at one time," I blithely muttered.
I woke up again. My eyes snapped open as a gulch of blood coughed from the mouth of a complete stranger. I just stared, watching it spill onto my collar bone line. I planted a foot firmly in the poor bastard's stomach and kicked the new carcass unceremoniously to the side. Anywhere, anywhere, it didn't matter, I just wanted him off of me. Hastily clambering to my feet, I heard a sickening squeak and I nearly slipped to the mercies of gravity. Retaining balance, I stood in silence. I looked around.
Where was I taking me and what have I been doing..?
Chandeliers glowing of dim antiquity lined down the center of the ceiling. Luxurious benches and cozy chairs comfortably rested themselves below consecutive rows of ....blood-spattered window-panel trimming. The floor was littered with bodies, and most were upright and walking. Others were writhing and limping, yet some others were quite obviously dead but not dying.
I found a vacant wall and pinned my back against it. I looked down to quickly appraise my apparel and found there was not a single stain on it. The present nuisance of a tenacious gnat interrupted my fight-or-flight shock. I'm not safe in here. I drew my nine and pulled the trigger. The first idiot in my way instantly received an open mind between his eyebrows, (or her, I couldn't tell.) A door was shut to my left. To the right was the rest of my environment. None of the people in here with me seemed to even hear the gunshot. Never you mind a silencer, this car wasn't exactly populated sparse.
The gnat was still zig-zagging and whipping about nearby me. This was actually, and immediately, the most important thing to resolve. Every time I thought it lost interest, it'd return to my face with ridiculous earnest. For funzies I aimed and tried to shoot it. I missed. Someone else paid its price, and dearly. Whoopsie.
I patted the wall with my other hand to make sure it wouldn't fail me. I began to analyze calmly.
"These people, they haven't quite done anything. Yet how much do I pay for waiting on them, to clear away for me? And where am I?"
My thoughts were racing. Then it struck me. I'm in uniform motion. This is a corridor coach. Bollocks to the Time, I'm not even moving! This notion, so upsetting: I am travelling, but it is not me that is doing the running! I am [framed,] somehow coerced into loco-local-motion.
I'm taking my ass to the locomotive to skewer answers out of the operator and even his gd coal-pit. But first, let's finish off the rest of the incumbents in this box and hit a shower. Silly thought indeed, but to my surprise: I found one behind the shut door aforementioned to the left. It is time to put to use something well-spent....
I found myself in a couchette car instead of a shower room. No longer there, how in the flying-J-H did I end up way back here??? Before the thought could finish, I saw a woman begin to approach.
"Lovely...a Stewardess. Mhm. I really don't like killing women, but..,"
No sooner could I finish syncing my finger to the trigger past its grip, than did she also point-and-*click*. My vision blurred her face out of focus and I noted a number over her shoulder. In the wall far behind her, above its door, was '5.'
"What can I do for you," she asked with a quiet wu wei.
"You can step aside. At least..that is what I'd like to snide," said I.
"Attitude, sir," she sneered.
Gigil washed over me.
"...milady, apologies," I retorted, rolling my eyes and dropping my gun.
She wore a black-and-white fitted hoodie that functioned more like a tuxedo coat. One side was white, the other was black. The legs of the hood itself, slung over her shoulders from behind and descended her chest in triple-lapels. At the shoulders they were broad, but narrowed as they cinched down further to her waist. From there, they flared out into a generous taper to either side that stopped just above her knees. As pants, she wore a stretchy-denim that was stained with gashes of black-on-white over her thighs. What shoes she wore I couldn't tell. 'Twere as though she shuffled the very shadows with her feet. They could not be seen, no matter my preternatural auspices. They were useless here, but they still saved my life at the very least- just barely. She was faster than me. I didn't look into her face. Though she was no gorgon I very much knew that would be it for me.
A circus dirge of mismatched pipe-organ notes, like brontides from a distance, began to play. I could die here but it wasn't exactly a sadness I feared. It was an endear, as though an end to plastic was near. This felt like freedom. Absent forced axioms, this was a complete and utter ataraxia.
She cocked her head inquisitively to the side, lowered her pow-pow and abruptly pounced. In a crackling flash she had a knee in my chest, a grip on my throat and the back of my head slammed to the floor.... just centimeters away from the only hope out: the 9mm.
The air was knocked out of me instantly. I couldn't even breathe an, "..ow."
"Answer the riddle and you can go on thinking," she flatly stated, "do not miss it, as this is what makes your life worth anything...."
I kept my eyes desperately averted from her face. I can't fall for anyone. Not here. Not now..
"...else, you will not go on living," she closed out with a terse 'fini.'
Spoken like one's first rudiments of the alphabet, she began the riddle:
"A sincerely paved apprivoise sequence of ikigai,"
"so intimate it is both hiraeth and cynefin."
"So true, the depaysement you manage to find evokes yugen."
"Saudade and ukiyo coexist together, over and again."
"Wabi-Sabi can never make peace with the resulting pieces."
"Name the union paralyzed and scattered across onism,"
"yet also birthed and reared by consummation between morii and des vu."
I was done for. My eyes lusted for understanding, so I'd been looking into hers as soon as the riddle began. I could die, but I didn't care. Willing to pay for my own answers, I responded:
"You are the 'Unchained Melody,' and your name is Toska."
Her gripped relaxed, she holstered her gun, stood up and sadistically kicked my 9mm into my head. I immediately grabbed it, barreled a roll onto my side and jumped to my feet.
...but she was gone soon as I looked up, and the train began to pick up speed.
It was then I realized, this was my train, and I am the ticket...but now that I'm in love, how do I navigate my cerebral thicket..?
About the Creator
Patrick M. Wegner
I am a Malkavian that made it to ceremorphosis by accident; then I took my sweet time consuming the host implanted. I bear no prestige and no accolades. My only degrees rest in the spheres of passion, expression and ingenious stupidity.
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
Compelling and original writing
Creative use of language & vocab
Original narrative & well developed characters
Easy to read and follow
Well-structured & engaging content
Niche topic & fresh perspectives
On-point and relevant
Writing reflected the title & theme
Wow! Poetry in motion. This a refreshing mode of writing. I can see you in King Arthur's court. Very interesting.
This was awesome! I was hooked the whole way through! How do you write so eloquently? It's a technique I'm working on building myself and get a lot of inspiration from simple poetry and books with purple prose, but yours has an elevated air to it (possibly due to word choice, but also maybe a certain level of detail?). In any case, I can't wait to read more!
Creative,Compelling story Draws the reader in the throes of action
You are a poet in prose form hovering like a black helicopter over over a tiny limbed creature whose bulbous eyes reveal that he/she/they is also hovering between life and some other place. The lark of it all is that you are also in that other place. Thank you.
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I thought it was great. Love the rhythm and language. Very thought provoking descriptions of characters. I wanted more characters and more action, but that comes later, I would presume.
I love the style of writing and your articulate vocabulary,but I must admit ... I was still a little lost at the end. So many unique places and species?
You all have been very kind to both invest your time in the story, and also freely give more of it to share your remarks. Let's do what we can to make Vocal a thriving waxen seal of creativity, uniquely stamped by such individuals as yourselves that go a-writing; or even just reading.
Pure genius and fun reading Patrick! It was a delightful whirlwind of excitement for me. In this world of yours, I am transformed and made new because it is cute, no . . . clever; not just that--funny . . . and GREAT!
Great characters, Patrick! :D Completely echo what "Amy Lovett" mentioned in the comments.
The characters are so intriguing that I’d love to hang out with them some more, though they are cold-blooded murderers. The language weaves the tale like a tapestry.
I love the amount of creativity that you have put into your story. The story was engaging and interesting, and I really like how the riddle makes the reader think. This is an excellent story to read.
What a seductive love story - your use of language is glorious!
This was quite a ride! Great job!!