While going through some old files, I found this short story. I wrote this during one of the most difficult times of my island experience when I lived abroad for five years.
I’m not proud of it – not by any means.
I felt beaten up at the time so I was releasing my thoughts on paper, producing this not-so-pleasant piece.
I am not crazy…I can assure you, but my mind was not in a healthy place.
In the air of authenticity as well as truth, I’ve decided to share it, but you really don’t have to read it at all. Really!
By Stephen L France (c) 2012
One body lies on the floor beside mine, decorated in coagulated crimson.
It is lifeless.
I, am not.
My chest begins to heave, slow, then fast.
I cough and roll my body to the side as a drizzle of red splashes from my mouth.
Sucking in as much air as my chest permits, the inflation of my lungs mumbles defiance against death.
Raising my torso, bones in my spine click in descending succession as my mind commands every fibre to consciousness.
Eyesight is a disturbing blur.
My knee caps squirt blood as if the cartilage has melted and desires escape from my legs.
He nearly finished it, I think. So unbelievably close.
The tunnel is dark. So absurdly obscure. And the coldness; it coaxes me to return to sleep and never wake up.
Refusal of death is potent in the rapid return of my firm heart beat.
The waves in my vision release their distortion. My eyesight is clear. My black suit begins to mend, piecing itself back together, and my blue shirt emulates. All the blood stains on my clothes evaporate. Every single dirt mark disintegrates.
I examine the shirt, shining like new.
People used to admire that shirt…but it doesn’t matter. Nothing, matters. Just got to survive.
My eyes dart around my surroundings.
How did it get so dark? I ask myself. I can barely see.
I’m fortunate though. My vision’s always been good.
I must go on, I tell myself. So many to fight, so much to undo…but this is for all of them. They’re counting on me. Relying on me. Depending on me. I can’t fail.
I get up, struggling on both legs like a paralytic, paving his path to the restoration of his limbs.
The pitch black tunnel is so thin, I can almost feel the walls breathing their musty stench on me.
Encompassed by the dark, the glimmer of light is far in the distance; a small, white ball producing a strobe, like a heartbeat. That light has been my guide from inception, and it has resurrected me more times than I deserve. As long as that light remains alive, so do I.
My right leg collapses and I’m on all fours again, feeling the cold, cobble floor digging into my knees.
I breathe hard.
My body is healing. Fast. A fortunate result of hard physical training.
Bones relocate back to their correct position. Bruises fade. Cuts sew up. Gashes regenerate flesh, filling the crevasses, materialising new skin.
Finally, my body has revived.
I glare ahead and make myself a thousand promises about my next opponents.
Be cold. Be ruthless. Be uncompromising. They are. You must be.
I hear multiple sets of footsteps approaching. Ten, maybe twenty more.
The first one comes. He’s clumsy. Moves slow and fights even slower. He reveals all his insecurities. He’s amateur.
One punch flies so far from my face, he might as well have been aiming for the air. The other misses my torso by a great breadth.
Several spin kicks are easily evaded and then, the opening announces itself. An easy kill. One punch, straight through. Not aiming for the person, but aiming behind him. My fist breaks his chest bone, punctures his lungs, and splits right through his spine. His body is impaled on my forearm, head drooping on his neck like a hat on a coat hanger.
I pity him. Under other circumstances, it may not have had to occur, but…he was one of them.
The other footsteps have vanished. I could have sworn there were twenty approaching. Perhaps not.
As I relieve my arm from the body, I begin to walk, then stumble in my step. It hits, like a hypodermic needle applied by a doctor still in training. I hold myself up against the wall and stare at the black atmosphere in front of me.
Maybe, I’m in the wrong. Maybe, they’re right. Perhaps, I’m the villain. They all detest me so much.
Another figure darts from the shadows so quickly, my mouth drops.
Where did he come from?
He’s fast and cunning, but he has obvious weaknesses.
His combat skills are lacking. He’s inexperienced, making blatant mistakes.
Punches go wide, kicks touch air. His end, is coming.
I throw one firm kick to his side.
His ribs go.
He knows it’s over.
He scarpers into the darkness before I have a chance to finish him. It doesn’t matter. He’ll be back.
I begin to pace the walkway. Fast. Then faster.
Before I can comprehend, I’m powering through like I’ve never known.
I’m stronger, better, quicker, intellectually superior, wiser. I’ve become a king among men. Solitude and isolation are my greatest allies.
Then, I enter a room…
To Be Continued
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