Novel: Confessions of an Abortion Addict – Excerpt – Part 5

This is an excerpt from the novel “Confessions of an Abortion Addict.” The novel is still in progress and this excerpt might not be sequential and will be subject to additional editing. Please provide feedback. Thank you!

 

The room was a vacuum of white static. A giant corridor in a hospital except without the smell of disinfectant; it smelt more like a perfume counter of a department store. This is the beginning of your new life. There are other would-be actresses that Virchow, has lured with a promise of fame and stardom. The other girls come in different sizes, but they have the same age: under 30-ish.  Old man craves young flesh. Practicing lines, pouting lips in Vanity Mirrors, Refreshing make-up and they have brought with them the dreams that are about to be realized. I adjust my yellow dress that I’ve worn after my agent’s continuous pestering and pleas to look presentable.

I have my hair down, from what I can see in the mirror at the opposite end. It looks matte black. My skin also feels darker because I didn’t feel like going too heavy for the make-up. I’d really don’t like being here too, but my agent insists that ambition is the key. You have to make things happen.

 

“I love the yellow you’re wearing, it really compliments your skin tone,” the girl next to me says.

 

“Oh, Thanks!” I said, and it took a moment for me to realize that she was talking to me. No one had said a word to me this entire afternoon, except for maybe verifying that I was on the audition list. This girl was very peculiar; for one thing, everyone had come with portfolios, their bags and of course they were all dressed to reflect their own particular set of assets.  While she was wearing a low-cut, plain white tee, black leather vest with spiked studs, a multitude of scarves and accessories, on a skinny frame with a heavy dose of mascara which made the blues on her eyes feel piercing. “I love your get up too,” I try to mirror the compliment but it might have felt a little insincere due to the long pause.

 

“Ha-ha, please, don’t lie. I know I’m underdressed, but my agent forced me to come here,” she gently strokes her serpentine red hair.

“That sounds awesome—you have anything else lined up?”

“A couple of things. Plus, I’ve not heard anything good about, Virchow. One of my friends was telling me that he makes the girls take off their top and chooses them based on the color of their areolas.”

 

“Really?” I replied. Don’t listen to the competition, June…she just wants to see you walk out that door. “Don’t get me wrong, he doesn’t have a very sparkling reputation, but that’s low— even for him…just out of curiosity what color does he prefer?”

 

“Apparently, he really likes nipples to complement the rest of the breast, so they become camouflaged.” She says in an indifferent tone. “I have darker nipples anyway, so I’m already out.”

“No offense but if that’s the case why don’t you just walk out right now?” I ask her with a bluntness that I didn’t even know I had in me. Yeah, tell the truth.

 

“Well, it’s a rumor, and in this day and age everyone makes up their own rumors. I just want to see who is bullshitting me, right?” She says that without blinking. “Oh, by the way, my name is Sally, Sally Chrysler. Not like the car, please don’t make that joke— I probably should change my last name— anyway, you can call me, Sly. You might remember me from such classics as Prairie Shark, Wendigo: the awakening and of course Who brought the lumberjack on my fishing boat, eh?”

“Ha-ha,” I couldn’t help but chuckle at her, it was a little difficult to keep pace with her thoughts. “Hi, Sally…urm…sorry, Sly. I’m June, June Husk. I’ve also only been in Canadian Movies, mostly. I did some stuff with Tcherkov, but as it was pointed out to me by my Agent, for me to ‘make it’ I have to go to Hollywood…well nice to meet you.” I palm her hand and she goes for the cheek-to-cheek, and we end up in between a low hug and front-on spooning.

 

“Nice to meet you too, June. I can’t say, I’ve seen you in anything…but you look familiar but here’s hoping this is your big break.”

“I hope so too,” I said with a heavy sigh. There is a long moment of silence between us, and the long gap is filled with Sly’s intermittent whistling.

“Hey, once you’re done do you wanna go out for a couple of drinks?” She says in her pattern of blurts.

 

“Umm…I have to be somewhere after, but we can go out sometime later this week.”

 

“Great, by the way, it wasn’t meant as a date or anything—hmm…I just like to you know network a little bit.”

 

“You really are awkward aren’t you?” I replied, smiling back at her.

 

“Yeah, you noticed?”

 

“Yes, I did,” we laughed, and for a moment we forgot that we were sitting in a hallway filled with anxious starlets.

 

“June! June Husk!” A voice bellowed.

 

“That’s you…go! go!”

 

“Thanks!” I leaped up, pirouetting across the rows of starry-eyed, doe-faced hopefuls. She gave me an air kiss and stuck her card inside my purse in a flash. I swore that I heard her say, all the best, as I rushed towards the assistant who called me.

“June Husk…nice name.”  He said holding a clipboard close to his chest.

 

“Thanks.”

 

Previous Excerpts:

Novel: Confessions of an Abortion Addict – Excerpt – Part 4

Novel: Confessions of an Abortion Addict – Excerpt – Part 3

Novel: Confessions of an Abortion Addict – Excerpt – Part 2

Novel: Confessions of an Abortion Addict – Excerpt – Part 1

Confessions of an Abortion Addict

 

 

© A.R. Minhas 2017

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It’s Ok To Be Lonely, Sometimes

“It’s ok if they don’t get your joke.”

            “None of them do…”

            “And humor is such a subjective thing.”

                            “You just have to try a little harder…”

“Maybe, a little more to the right.”

“If you stick the landing then they’ll respect you…”

“Oh! When are you getting published?”

            “You just don’t drink that much.”

 

“Please, please another pint… that’s all I have left.”

“Is the weekend over yet because this egg won’t crack itself,”

            “If there is a movie to masturbate too can we please watch something surreal?”

“If your breasts like mountains bow I would be able to see again!”

“I can paint the world with your freshly stippled legs.”

 

“That pure waterfall is my release, and the cliff is your face changing shape.”

 

“Our evergreens and my heart are rooted in you.”

 

“If there a distance between a star, let me immolate between your thighs.”

 

 “I have lied to you inside a convenience store.” “And I know of the other entity that

                                                                  resides below you.”

 

“If there is flesh, let me have a light…”

“And smoke is blessed and falls on all of us with carcinogenic precision.”

“It’s ok, loneliness comes in small bouts.”

                                                          “It will kill you in small amounts.”

 

“And maybe one day you won’t be so disappointed that you ended up this way.”

 

© A.R. Minhas 2017

Sometimes, it’s okay to die

It falls to you

That place last night

 

Remembering a past life

The moment a chemical was released

 

Nicotine in the air

An Orgasmic coffee

The sip to stay up all night

 

Ruminating on your shape

The wetness of lips

And a pause of Sativa’s breath

 

The moon’s fullness desired you

Worshipping the instrument of my birth

      It’s ok to die        now

      It’s ok to die

 Sometimes

 

I can still remember

It’s hard to let go of such thoughts

To be obsessed with your repression

 

And maybe after my consciousness is gone

Then I will forget

But for now

 

It’s there

It’s always there

Your face reddened

 

And your body a map of teeth marks

Triangle etched on beauty spots

Strands of saliva dripping from nipples

              Irradiated

     Stares

                                Longing

       Another cruelty

                            Summer brings a new style of fucking

Throat burns blue smoke

 

King of ash

Tap the last strain of smolder

Cum with certainty, and transcendence

Recreating myself on your belly button

 

An eyelash juts out

The thighs offer a refuge from the coldness

 

And these fingers will make contact

“You’re dripping deep oceans.”

 

Womb or watery depths

There is no dispersion of oxygen here

And no distraction of life

Just darkness

And whatever it is I am.

 

© A.R. Minhas 2017

Novel: Confessions of an Abortion Addict – Excerpt – Part 1

This is an excerpt from the novel “Confessions of an Abortion Addict.” This excerpt might not be sequential and will be subject to additional editing. Thank you!

 

          It’s been 27 years since I’ve been trapped in my own head. I went to walk on the streets that were familiar, but it’s been too long since I can remember what it was like to transcend. Everything I can remember has been stained by time and memory. Altered by it and ultimately become indifferent too; it was always like that. I look at people as objects in a petri dish. I observe them— the way they laugh, hold conversations, the stares that linger too long and hands that get rebutted ever so softly. I do this because of my craft; I want to be an amazing actress. I’m sitting in a great Hall with other travelers who are waiting for their trains, to go elsewhere, somewhere they were destined to go.

            I see the hug of close friends, lovers and how they are so easily replaced by other people on the waiting bench who too are waiting for the same relationships to enter through that platform. The great Hall has a large dome-shaped ceiling, the lights on the scaffolding provide a mauving effect, smell of recent construction— sawdust floating in the spotlight of the sun… a clanging of metal that has a strange blue ring. Suitcases half the weight of their carriers. Men who look like they have been war torn by life, women who carry themselves with litheness. Shopping bags, hair curled buns and the little wheels making sounds like small locomotives. The voices reverberate, and the pool of conversation gathers into a flood that spills everywhere.

             I go out to smoke. The corner is unlittered with cigarette butts, and I leave one behind with my red lipstick marks, showing that I was there. There are large faces of buildings that look down on me; it’s the feeling of being looked down upon that gets you. Bloated with empathy, my feet yellow-calloused from walking around in these white flats, I hobble around the block, the cars rush by me… Doppler Effect in transit. Pedestrians, jaywalk with deftness that I’ve never possessed and the homeless sit on corners—peripheral curiosities, becoming a part of the city landscape rather than living, breathing organisms. I feel guilty of that thought, but I let myself off with a slap-on-the-wrist. I detach myself walking upwards, and then I catch a glimpse of myself in the green-tinged reflective glass windows of the I-trade building; I can’t help but look. The black flowery blouse, my tight jeans billowing with my body and finally hair untethered in pristine spring weather and the ever so slight curls caressing my face; skin unblemished and proportionately tanned. ‘There were a lot of reasons to smile’ I tell myself to provide excuses for my unearthly grin. As I get closer, the sun dips at that angle which gives life the color of fading polaroid pictures.

“Lady, get some info,” this tall, dark-skinned man said. He was waving flyers with crescent shapes stepping in and out of my path. He was wearing glasses that blind men wear and his scarred white stubble, made him look even more malnourished.

“No, thanks,” I said in my barely audible speaking voice, but my open arm wrist protest along with my head bobble should be more than enough disinterest. I’ve learned to ignore men with flyers. You might think they’re giving you ‘info,’ but they only waste your time. I’m beginning to realize the city, surrounded by a mass of people does make you a little cold and callous but at the same time perceptive of people’s naked interests.

             Getting closer to Dundas, I walk avoiding the subway grates; I might also be avoiding them because I fear falling down further… there is a lingering smell of baked bread floating through the open windows, the steam howls from the belly …the raging of the union southbound line, trembling with unrestrained ferocity. If you look at the pavement closely you can see the small shoot of grass jutting out of the corners. I’m getting a little woozy because I’m also noticing the bubble-gum carcasses and bird-droppings forming small bulbous protrusions infecting the street… like diseased skin. I retrieve a cigarette from my purse, and now it’s dangling on my lips…. I’m going pass the theatre near Wellington Street; I’m not sure if I should do theatre? Nonsense my agent would say and she would berate me about thinking too small. She isn’t with me today; she might’ve finally been satiated by my victory to not show up. Sppt! The lighter fidgets like a fire-dancer near the square, I hear the four toned announcement: ‘Walksignisonforallcrossings’. There was a certain buzz in the ear as if everyone was excited that I was finally meeting, Sly. She was insisting to meet up after our audition and I guess I finally had a reason to celebrate. I wonder now if I were to celebrate my accomplishments, do those accomplishments diminish as I celebrate them, I wonder if everything becomes much of the same. Everything eventually becomes old. I hail a cab.

“90 Ossington”, I say depositing my purse on the other seat. The driver moves with a sense of reckless preciseness; moving his head supernaturally, as if to have an omniscient view of the streets. He was darting across traffic manoeuvring around logjams barely avoiding the cyclists, pedestrians that were unlucky enough to find him in the way of his path— I was sure he had at least grazed many of his would-be victims. In that 30 minute drive I saw my life pass by several times.

Please read the original short story:

Confessions of an Abortion Addict

 

© A.R. Minhas 2017

“Void” (Flash Fiction)

* This is an even more edited version of my short story and believe or not this was written before the movie “Gravity.” This was inspired by the Marilyn Manson song “Disassociative,” and was one of the first stories I wrote, I hope you can enjoy. *

 

I am drifting in space, moving in disassociation.  The radio screeches:

—BzzZZZzt—EEEEEE—TNN NN NN—

Distortion, like the crackle of a fire licking: Slurp! Slurp! Feedback of the self-contained cacophony, growling louder and louder, penetrating ear drums, shrill as chalkboard claws and meaningless as a whisper of devotion. The emptiness of nerve anarchy; I engage in deeper levels of conversations within the spiraling platforms of thoughts: illuminated, only by the intervals of shining stars, whose light is trapped within the body of its flatulent, gaseous structures and the thermo-nuclear blaze, shimmers: a parody of unrequited astronauts sentenced to death. Those poor, helpless moths drifting in space-time. Meteorites float in the periphery of my vision colliding with each other to form new shapes and distances; the sun immolates itself spewing out radiation.

‘I-I don’t belong here’ said someone beyond the mezzanine, blurted, drowning in the tidal wave of darkness and boredom; expectorating saliva and watching gravity ignore it, suspended within the fishbowl container, it forms an amorphous blob.

“M-May-day… R-R-R-Respond… I-I repeat! May-day! T-t-the radio-command of Odysseus 762  R-r-respond…G-Gawd-Dammit!!”

The radio dies alone because it could not communicate with other radios. The stomach just underwent massive seismic activity. I lurched forward holding myself back (trying not to hurl) to recollect shattered thoughts with the pretense of patience.

“An astronaut is drifting alone in space,” said an abstraction of someone from below the deck.

I was inspecting the perimeters of the shuttle. I had to report any damage to the shaft, the result of our ships encounter with Earth’s rings of garbage that had attained an orbit of sorts around the planet. Travelling further, debris had punctured the outer layer of shields. Tethered to the ship through an umbilical, I made my way to inspect.  I floated perilously into the void, I saw the Earth for the first time, from a distance; stepping out into the vacuum, disoriented by space.

I made my way along the streamlined body of the ship.  The frame of Odysseus was severely damaged; the junk had deformed its shape— bruised purple coursing through its thick cut of veins, sickened by the poison that had transformed its appearance. The wingspan had clusters of it; only a moment later, that it was whizzing past me like crashing bullets.  It was here; and it froze around Earth, forming its circumnavigation. The debris was raw sewage, yellowbrown balls of ice hurtling through space; some in perfect harmony, others flung like rocks dopplering into black water … creating ripples; we were briefed that the junk would have attained high velocities and would be the biggest obstacle to the mission, other than of course the unique isolation that is presented by space.

As I dived beneath the wingspan to avoid being pummelled by what I would assume to be foul smelling snow-balls — Skktsh!…I imagined that it sounded like that: the snapping of the umbilical cord, I laughed a little, after all, the years of gestating and shuttle-worship… and now it snaps… severing the connection. The thing that held me close to being real is gone, and now I’m all out of oxygen, drowning and ejected out of uterus once again. Although I had managed to turn on my imaginary lungs, I am in that hexagonal room again; where my eyes aren’t used to this new vision.

***

I had a rescue mission planned, in desolation, I conjured up fantasies of hope – or how my new life would turn out like, unfortunately, I awoke to a universe, alone and stained with piss and shit.  They must have something in the manual for this…something…anything.  On the other hand, I do have a gigantic death wish, and it was getting harder to ignore.

I lose count; my fingers seem dislocated yet multiplied at the same time… the numbers in my head slip through the cracks of my skull.  I roam no longer in Earth’s orbit or within the radius of Odysseus— emptiness— a disembodied entity sucked into a vacuum cleaner, “let the verses of the alien gods penetrate cerebrum, planting their seeds of electric activity; radioactive thoughts do that to you— they induce doubt in everything.”

The reserve tank of lungs had a puncture, with its last breath of oxygen kissing my lips. I would repeat the arithmetic try not to expect because both despair and hope are pointless. All I ever once was: darkness, and now just an unspectacular end to be accomplished by mediocrity.

My lips are caked. I feel every drop of sweat eroding the features of my face.  I also have a severe itch on my nose, but I can’t scratch it. The stillness mixed with the dispersion of oxygen has rendered me deaf, adding stress on my breathing patterns. Oh my God! Can someone scratch my fucking nose!

In my last conscious moments, I remember the sun gazing upon my feet; although the suit was there to protect me from the UV-beams, it still insulated with bulky armor because of the cold, space is bi-polar with vast stretches of it freezing… but with any proximity to the sun, it gets much warmer. By now it was almost certain that radiation had crept into my body. I could feel my skin burning.

Roaming in the infinite, a vagrant among the cosmos. I was a dead body through which life can still exist; while, Earth and all its occupants will wither away. The fact that my body can have a culture of life, maybe,  the thought of existing in some way allowed me to accept this fate and eventually gave me some peace and calmness.  Formless. Naked. Peaceful. I accept death as much as I accept life and all its consequences. The oxygen runs out with the stars shining on the fish-bowl. Who knows if those stars are dead or merely resurrected?  Maybe I will be reborn again, as I lull myself to sleep:

“At my feet

I see hands approach

Little aphorisms always hold true

Because as you embrace despair

That is when the bright lights appear.”

 

© A.R. Minhas 2017

 

THE END

 

 

 

There is a Blackhole at the Center of Everything

In this profession, as in his real life, Stephen Travers, calculates his words for maximum effect.

“You all know we weren’t born to be miserable, right?” microphone in one hand, Stephen Travers blasts his rhetorical question. “We are put on this earth to do more than just be miserable. We are put here to achieve happiness…and how do we achieve happiness?” The crowd in rapt silence, hanging on to his every word.

“Now I can give you the politically correct answer. Happiness is family, happiness is all that bullshit. There is only one thing that dictates our happiness. Success…success informs everything you do— your relationships, your health, your confidence. Success is everything… and I promise that with my program, you will see the results.”

He is met with bombastic applause.  They can’t get enough of this… a sea of puppets.

“I want you to look in the mirror, and visualize your success. Imagine yourself staring at your goal— it’s at arm’s length from you, all you have to do is reach out and grab it. Envision yourself with new eyes and picture your success just a stone’s throw away.”  On the stage, around the auditorium, the banners proclaim: ‘THE STEPHEN TRAVERS METHOD: CONCEIVE, BELIEVE, EXECUTE, AND ACHIEVE.’ His picture blown-up, bright-eyed, blue-eyed, painted brows and well-manicured hair and a photoshop grin. A small group of security guards is hidden in the corner, keeping an eye out on the squeezed crowd.

“I was born in a small mining town near Sudbury. My father was a miner, my grandfather was a miner and although miners get paid a lot these days,” He pauses, letting the audience chuckle a bit. “Back in those days, they didn’t, and they didn’t have a luxury of a ‘safe’ working environment.” He said, following a chorus of nods. This session was in a small town, he usually recounted his past strategically to grab at the heart strings of a similar sentiment. “I didn’t want to follow the family business. So I took off and never looked back; but, what they said about the mines stays with me to this day.  Hard hats with a thin trail of light, toiling away in the dark… full of arsenic, lead, and cadmium. They persevered through for a better life in those Nickel mines. Both my father and grandfather toiled through for a better life. It’s not easy to stumble in the dark… But I know now what it takes… and why my method works.” He said in a more thoughtful way.

“Now I know there are some non-members here too, so please if you liked today’s seminar, there are some signup sheets near the tables and will be disseminating soon. Sign up if you want to be a regular. It’s just $9.99 every month, for only being a silver member, for which you will receive your very own handheld mirror and our regular web sessions.” He holds the small mirror, up high, hand extending towards the heavens and the light reflects into the crowd, some in the first-row wince. “The Gold members, who pay $15.99, get some additional things as well; this will include: webinars, daily motivational quotes, and exclusive speaking engagements…which reminds me— I will be talking to our gold members, exclusively, today”, he said. “Please, join us back after a 15-minute interval.”

Ravenous applause. There are flashbulbs of electricity: the crowd is feeling it tonight. Donation baskets passing through palms of people who are in need of constant self-validation.  He sees on the right-side of the stage— Garry, the web guy, giving him the thumbs up, his scrawny face peering through the laptop, glowing. The internet donations are coming in thick and fast. He fixes his silk tie, adjusting his royal blue tailored suit turning towards the side as he walks off stage. Handing the mic to a stage presenter, who entertains the crowd in his absence. He sees Roselle as he walks to the exit, wearing her silvery-white dress, sunglasses precariously positioned in her utter indifference. When he saw her, he let go of the mirror breaking into a thousand reflective edges. Faces disjointed. He and Roselle were going their separate ways.  It didn’t help that she was still his manager. They decided to keep their relationship with each other as professional as possible, but it was hard to do that. She wasn’t thrilled about the idea of helping him organizing these ‘self-help’ seminars but wanted to help his career, however, after seeing the method that he had employed, she started hating the idea. She finally had enough of it; this would be her last show.

His stare lingered on her for a couple of seconds. He liked unquestioned loyalty— anything less was a betrayal. Though their ties were about to end, Roselle was still trying to make sure that they left on amicable terms even if she didn’t agree with Stephen’s methods.

“Do you think it’s a good idea to do the ‘mass hypnosis’ thing today?” She says in a calm tone. “You haven’t perfected it with such a large group.” Both of them start walking towards the dressing room.

“I do this because that is what people pay me to do.  We need each other to survive, if it’s not me, it would be someone else.”

“Well, that’s fine, and all but do you think it will help them?”

“If I can raise someone’s self-esteem enough…I deserve a little bit of their money…you realize how much a shrink costs?” he said taking off his suit and handing it to an unnamed assistant signaling her to iron it a little bit more.

“You know what forget about it…sometimes …I can’t even…” she says, both of them standing on the threshold of the door.

“Can’t even what…? Tell me?” he says.

“Never mind.” She enters and seats herself on the couch.

“If you have a problem with the way I do things here, you can leave… oh, wait! you’re already doing that”. He struts in sitting on the opposite chair to her. She doesn’t move, silently staring at him…he has never talked to her like this before. “Yeah, exactly, you are leaving. You said we could separate our personal relationship from our professional one, and you couldn’t so don’t guilt trip me about any of my dealings now, ok?” She acquiesced; she realized that this was harder than she thought. The door knocks.

“Can I come in?” Garry asks.

“We’re busy” Roselle shouts.

“It’s ok you can come in” Stephen replies. Roselle gets up, crossing her arms and shaking her head with frustration.

“I just wanted to ask what music you wanted us to queue when you do the hypnosis? The Sufi ‘call to the sea’ or the sound of a waterfall.” Garry asks in a hushed tone.

“Whatever, you feel like.”

“Call to the sea, it is…”

“And could you please escort Roselle out of the building?” he says with contempt.

“Uhmm…” Garry said, unsettled by the situation.

“I’ll show myself out, don’t worry. I tried my best to be civil with you, but you made it impossible. I just want you to remember that if you ever realize how wrong you were don’t bother calling me back, ok? I will not feel sorry for you.” she walked with a brisk pace and he caught the whiff of her scent. She pulls the door with force, as Garry stumbles a little forward. Footsteps of angry heels.

“Is there anything else, Garry?” Stephen asks.

“No, everything else is swell…”

“Ok, then, get lost. Thanks.”

Stephen started out as a hypnotist. Making people do silly faces, funny noises, and slapstick dances. Realizing early that he had gone as far as he could, he cleaned up his act and changed his name to Stephen Travers and started holding self-help seminars. Now he was doing something which would have a greater impact on his audience; imprinting their lives with his motivational speeches, and now mixing hypnosis with his presentations. The quest for total self-actualization, he called it.

“If you can conceive. If you can believe. If you can execute then, you can achieve.” He bellowed to a round of hoots and hollers as he returned to entertain the gold members. “And that’s what I have been able to do from the lessons I’ve learned in my life.”

The seminar is a convenient construct that helps with his promotion. It’s a story that helps him to be more relatable to his audience, which to be honest is a lower income segment of the population (typically, the people who have chosen the gold membership are a bit higher up on the lower income segment). The audience wants a narrative to cling onto; the truth is that he despised his family. He saw them as lumps of wasteful space, lumbering through the horrible mines all their lives—for nothing. He had never met his grandfather because he had died in the mines; the cable snapping as the rust accumulated, falling 10 meters below in complete darkness of the elevator shaft. The fall had crushed his legs, and it didn’t help that there were no rescue crews at the time, he’s embedded somewhere below. His father was a drunkard, he did what all miserable drunkards do…neglecting everyone around him. His mother left soon getting out of an unhappy situation. For a majority of his life, it was only him and his father.

His father was slowly becoming a shell. Finding relief only at the bottom of that bottle. Showing up after work, drunken, covered in soot, and an emotional mess. He threatened to be the local barfly but luckily for him he faced stiff competition from a lot of the townsfolk. It’s not pleasant to live in a mining town— people are miserable, and everyone’s lungs are infected with chemical agents. On the odd day that he was sober, he was very distant and didn’t care much about, Stephen. He never beat him, but he wasn’t there for him either. Indifference was always worse than hatred.

Eventually, he drank himself to death and Stephen was all by himself. But even when he was alive, Stephen felt a profound sense of loneliness and no self-worth. He knew what he had to do to become somebody. The world had ‘nickel and dimed’ him (he laughs at his joke), and he wanted to pay it back. On his many lonely journeys, he would go into the shadowy depths of the forest to a dark opening on a hill. This fissure in the Earth represented, to him the Nickel Mines, which to him represented the black hole of his despair. The mine had taken everything from him and was threatening to envelop the rest of his life as well. He would stare into the mines, chucking his emotional baggage below, as well as any spare quarters he had… he liked to hear the silver chink as they hit the surface below, unburdening himself of the mental torment he felt as well as acting as an act of catharsis. Depositing his physical and psychological anguish, returning it to its source.

Lately, he had been dreaming about that mine a lot. But the place in the dreams was much different. The opening of the mine was much wider: a dark fall with no bottom. The quarter dropped made no noise. In his dreams, he felt that a monster lived below the surface. A darkened passageway to nihilistic horrors. Sometimes, he could see the monster rear its head. It was so dark below that even a speck of light was made visible. The eyes of Green copper and the tongue of yellow plumbum were like distant stars. He heard the snarls, the sulfurous breath coming closer. The pulleys were squealing, upwards, he’s coming closer. He comes closer, gripping with unending terror and relief of freedom. An elevator platform ascending at a steady pace.

“Now I want you all to close your eyes and listen to the music as we all go into a trance. I am going to be accessing our entire collective subconscious. What we want to do today is to learn a technique called: auto-suggestion—this will be our trigger. If you have read my book: ‘SUCCESS IS WITHIN YOU:  THE STEPHEN TRAVERS METHOD’, you’ll understand …if not, what we’re simply trying to do is to visualize success to be our single motivation becoming embedded in all of us, as mentioned in my book, being single-minded is the key to achieving success; and all of you can do this by following my plan. Now everyone in this room is a gold member, which means that you have the opportunity to get access to my personal hypnosis sessions, motivational videos, newsletters and also one-on-one consultation once a year. So this is what you all are paying me for Ok?  So is everyone ready?!” He roared.

“YES!!!” they all replied.

“Ok, Garry you know what to do, hit it up!” he said. Stephen started his chanting as an indescribable language reverberated around the auditorium. Everyone had closed their eyes. The trance was perfect. The track had soft sitar music, with subliminal audio of phrases like, ‘visualize,’ ‘execution,’ and ‘self-realization.’

“I open up my eye, and I see all of you. We’re going to be visualizing success.” He murmurs, he is starting to remember himself looking down the mine, which was darker than the refuge of his eyelids.

“Breathe with me, Speak to me, and Sing with me,” he said, the possessed crowd obliged:

“HMMMMMM-HMMMMMM-HMMMMMM-HMMMMMM!” they chanted, swaying their hands back and forth.

There was something wrong. Stephen felt uneasy as he couldn’t hold onto his solid body. He was trying to hold onto his method. Conceiving, believing, execution and finally achieving transcendence.

Everyone mutters in gibberish. Psycho-babble, tongue twisters, loosens the mind and stretches out the will. Flashes of light, the spotlight peaks through. The cult leader, Stephen Travers, is trapped in his dream now. He is staring now at the mouth of the black hole.

“I’m here for you, Stephen.” the monster from below the mines. “I think that’s what they call you these days…right? Stephen…ha-ha…. I’m here for you, I’ll make it all better…ha-ha” it said.

He opened his eyes, and he saw the audience zapped in their unawareness. They were paused— caught in the trance; even the security guards were gone. The music was skipping.

“What happened, Stephen?” Garry yelled from behind the stage.

“Yeah, what the hell went wrong?” Roselle came running to him on stage.

“The hypnosis… they’re stuck in there.” He said in a panicked state. He jumps off the stage frantically running down the aisle snapping his fingers, but the audience isn’t coming out of it. A mass state of catatonia.

“They might want refunds,” Roselle says. “Think quickly.”

“Garry, can you please put on the music again? I have to find them. I have to get them back…” he comes back up to the stage.

“Got it…I’ll try again.” He said, frantically trying to restart the music.

“I hope you can find them…somehow…huh?” Roselle said and then out of nowhere a black hole forms beneath her feet.

“Roselle!” he quickly tries to grab her, and she falls into the mouth of the mine. He barely can touch her fingernails, and she keeps going down.

“AHHHH!” she screams.

“Roselle!” He yells and jumps into the black hole following her.

He isn’t awake. He’s not on the stage anymore; he’s  in a field of poisonous flowers that line the lips of the mouth. He’s in the forest again looking at the dark opening. Colorful flowers combine to look like the neon sludge left after the waste materials are taken out. He’s peering into the abyss. Behind him, the audience is moving autonomously. However, they look like miners, complete with hard hats, flannel shirts, and steel toed shoes— a sprinkle of them are also carrying pick axes. Faces smudged with charcoal and eyesight bad as moles.

“How did we get here?” An older gentleman asked.

“I feel woozy…”

“The last thing I remember was that was attending a self-help seminar…”

“Look above that hill…”

“That’s…”

“It’s him.”

They all converge to Stephen. He’s getting nervous, how are all of them in a dream of his? He shudders a little. The tiny pulleys working upwards, the elevator is coming up. He’s getting nervous. They approach him.

“Hello! my friends. I’m here to bring you back…”

“Shut up, Travers—if that’s even your real name—we were all waiting for you,” A woman from the crowd yelled.

“You ever been down the mines, boy?” the old miner screamed.

“No, I don’t want to…please, I escaped this town. I don’t want to be in this town. I couldn’t be like those miners. The sickness, oh god the sickness.”

“The mine was always yours” they all speak at the same time. “It’s where you came from, it’s where you’ll end up at.”

He is standing now, waiting for them to push him over. They all walk closer to him. Brushing aside the shrubbery, stepping into the colored flowers.  A sign appears as the bushels clear: THE MINE IS CLOSED.

The audience stops, it disperses away their purpose. “Peer into the mine, it’s closed for now…but we’ll come back later.” Retreating now, as they migrate out to the waking world.

He stares deep into the mine. He goes into his pocket to find a quarter like he used to. There were no quarters anymore. The monster below starts laughing. Eyes of chemicals malevolently looking up at him. The squeals of the spoke die, and the elevator is descending. All of a sudden, he falls to his knees. Subliminally, he can hear the words calling him to the real world. He is crying at the foot of the edge.  Staring into the abyss and now it didn’t even bother returning the favor.

 

 

 

© A.R. Minhas 2016

Confessions of an Abortion Addict

I am at a party again. Even though I don’t want to be, I still am. You have to show up, my agent tells me, You’ve only had a few movies out; You have to get your name out there! She doesn’t understand that I don’t want to be known in the first place, but she still repeats the need for social interaction, stroking the right ego and saying the right things. That’s what you have to do if you want to be successful, my agent says in that belligerent manner that she’s known for. I really don’t want to be here but, as usual, I have no choice in the matter. I’m still June, by the way, June Husk, that’s what they call me; and for now, I can still pass off as an entity.

I have evidence of makeup on, my hair adjusted in a bun that formed a Fibonacci Spiral. I’m bathed in perfume, Poison, if you’d like to know and I’m sparkling in a sequin light blue dress, strapless of course. The right eyes have to be on you. I really didn’t care for that; sometimes, it feels good just to look good for yourself.  But little did I know that this was a masquerade. This realization occurred as I stepped out of the Limo that was provided by the agency. You always have to appear glamorous, always. The flash bulbs leaving behind an afterimage of amorphous shapes, blinding me temporarily but not enough to notice the other guests had masks on. Dream faces painted in satanic furs.

‘That’s great,’ I thought to myself, I forgot to bring a mask. I walk inside the red velvet ropes; while, on the outside, the paparazzi, pseudo-journalist, and entertainment bloggers shout questions, comments and stick out their recording machines to get something newsworthy. They are feeding the loop of information, my pictures are not myself. Projection of a reality I seem to portray, hoping to catch something of me…unedited. I’m directed in by dark-shaded men who are in love with their ear pieces, as other more prominent figures of the entertainment industry approach. I always like being in the background, I know the narrative about me or the stories they will eventually tell, but I know they aren’t the real me. Honey, you haven’t even cracked the surface yet and you’re imagining they’re writing rumors about you? Ha-ha… you’ll be lucky if they even mention you. I survive the mob and adjust my dress, so I can breathe a little, the heels don’t help of course.

“You can go through there mam” the dark shaded man waving his fingers towards a small entrance way, which was cordoned off with rail-barriers on the outside, looking like a black hole. The party was being held in a grand hotel that has a name which is too generic to be remembered.

“And where does it lead?”

“Through the back entrance. We don’t want to cause too much of a security concern for the hotel.”

I nodded and made my way through the dark entrance. There were little lights directing me deeper into the burrow. The faint overtures got louder as I got closer to its source. I saw now the threshold covered with red drapes. Parting, I enter a large hexagonal place, with opulent staircases on each end. Grecian statues doused in heavy  purple light surrounded by a mass of people covered in lace, feathers, and furs. I stepped with hesitance. I don’t like parties. I’m an INFP after all but I have to attend this party or my agent won’t ever shut up. You’re damn right I won’t! I walk a little closer into an orgy of flesh,  grinning with their freakish faces, probably because they were enjoying  the pleasures of being famous, filthy rich and a little anonymous— just for today I guess. The music was loud and I could feel the spilled alcohol on my feet.  Fire-dancers circling in the middle–the soothing warmth of twirling flames. Contortionists suspended in metallic cages in the corner of the ceiling. This was not a conventional party.

“Is that you June?!” a man screamed from behind me. He was wearing a hideous mask, and accompanied with two blonde women, with spiral horns jutting out of their foreheads unable to control their giggling fits. Arms entangled in three bodies but I could still recognize him. His cologne gave it away.

“Eddie Virchow?!” I exclaimed in fake enthusiasm. Eddie was a skivvy producer who was trying to get me into a movie but only if certain preconditions were met. I won’t go into details but you can think of what men can do if they have absolute power and no one to tell them otherwise. “So good to see you!”

“Come here you sexy thing,” He said, hugging me closely, leaving the blonde twins with their arms akimbo. His fingers felt cold and I didn’t let him linger too long, using my elbows to break free of him. He backed away a little. “How have you been?”

“I’ve been good just finished a movie with Tcherkov,” I said, trying to act as much as I can that I didn’t think of him as absolute scum.

“You mean that artsy fella, huh?” he said in a dismissive manner.

“Yeah, him,” I said making direct eye contact to let him know that I wanted to follow a true artist’s path. Be more diplomatic, Honey, please!

“Uh, well if you do get bored doing all those types of movies; I have a really good part for you,” he said with a smirk. “Have your agent call me, ok?” handing his card to me. I took it reluctantly. You don’t skip out on opportunities, Honey, you just don’t.

“Yes, absolutely” I replied maintaining my act. “I’ll definitely see my schedule”

“You should, anyway, gotta go, and by the way, June, dig the mask. Ciao!” He said, vanishing with his twin accessories into a sea of bodies.

I touch my face and the mask is there. I thought I had forgotten it. No, it is here and ever present. I can feel the smooth velvet texture of surface in the past. I look up at the ceiling, it’s lined with mirrors and I see my reflection on plain surface. It looked like a gigantic purple-black moth covering my face. Intricately patterned with two black dots at the very corner of its wings. I had eyes on top of my own. I’m a phantom now. Multiple eyes, see multiple faces. The chandelier acting like a fixed star in the constellation of myself. An exposed eyelid. Crystals dangling and small bursts of sparkling light emerging out of the cocoon. Why are my thoughts conversing? Ultrasound consciousness. Jelly self-actualization. I’m your Life process. The light dims. Masked animals move in synchronicity and I’m in the middle of it. Pixels on flesh, submerged in sounds and pheromones. The crowd drowning in the stimulation.

They don’t recognize me. I’m at a party. I move through the crowd. Lowering my gaze and I see the carpet which has no undulation and a multitude of dynamic images moving through the crowd looking for an escape. A huge screen comes into being from the red parted drapes. Then silence. The lights go out: surreal darkness. The kind where you see afterimages swirling in. I heard a woman cry at the loss of her vision. All of a sudden a beam of celluloid light erupts. Its source was from the urethra of one of the Grecian statues that were now positioned in the middle of the room. I looked at the screen and blocks of red letters flashed onscreen: COMING SOON. I couldn’t help my curiosity.

It was a rough cut with a time code on it. The character on screen appeared staring deeply beyond the fourth wall. It looked like me but this wasn’t me. The scene appeared to be from some movie; needless to say, it was probably on the verge of being cut in some editing room somewhere. Why would they show it here? I looked around and everyone was transfixed, there was a low mumble of conversation still happening. The character looking directly at the audience against a white backdrop with lens flares peeking through her left ear.

 

“My name is Cathy and I like to have abortions.”

 

Ktshh! A glass broke somewhere and even the gentle conversations stopped. The flames turned into smoke and the contortionists got stuck in their camel yoga pose.

“It’s fucked up I know, I know. But god, it feels good to say that aloud. I feel bad for saying it in my head all the time, but fuck it I’ll say it again: “I like to have Abortions!” “I like to have Abortions!”, “I like to have Abortions!”” Cathy says, or the person who looks like me says it.

“It feels different when you say it aloud, though, doesn’t it? It feels more real, more tangible. The words create references to political debates. However, to be honest with you this isn’t about pro-choice or pro-life, though some of you might consider me a serial killer. I want to tell you this is about me. This is my confession and it’s about me… so fuck your moral interpretations.” Everyone in silence.

“I like the feeling of cool jelly running down my thighs, the soft vacuum-like device that boldly intercepts me with precision. The end of what could be. The end of possibilities. Life doesn’t mean anything. All the toil, all the suffering, all we have to do to become a person is meaningless because it is a lie. We are all condemned to perpetual struggle because of consciousness. Consciousness is the key to dissatisfaction. Abortions are like orgasms. That is why I chose to end consciousness, the end to the struggle. It is so… satisfying.” She closes her eyes when she says that, acting out her little death. I could hear gasps from the audience. I see myself from their eyes. Theirs glued to the image projected on the screen of another character, who I wish I had played telling them about how I actually feel.

“You may think I’m crazy for doing this but I’m not. I’m aware of what I do. I have 47 pictures of supposed children or ultrasound pictures on my wall. Each of them haunts me every day, but this is the sacrifice you make when you want to eliminate any thought. A sacrifice for pleasure. I cry tears of happiness that I chose to end those possibilities. If I look at them closely they resemble cancer cells. Fetus or tadpole? No self-reflexivity. No thoughts. No suffering of this world. No con—.”

The screen goes blank in mid-sentence. The lights are back. I’m standing in the center of the chaos of stars. There’s a loud roar, someone whistles and I’m showered in thunderous applause. Hoots and hollers. No one is wearing their masks anymore. There is heavy feedback as the PA goes off.

“And that was June Husk, in the movie The Unborn Ones. Coming out to one of your local film theaters this year.”

You deserve these applause! That wasn’t me. Applause! Oh god, that wasn’t me!

The sounds dissolve and the flash bulbs fuse, blinding me temporarily but not enough to notice that no one was there. I’m standing in the middle of a hotel room. Staring at an image of a pattern of orange triangles, on a green minimalistic horizon. A tear in the wallpaper as unseemly as cobwebs found on the corners of walls. I hope they recognize me for what I truly am. A fraud.

    Water drips from the sink. Tip. Tap. It’s hot when I shed my disguise, a shower of steam to evaporate the mask. My hands feel the cool tiles, as I lean against the shower head, spurting me with the optimal amount of hot water. Eyes downward, circling the drain. I let it consume me. You have it all by yourself, honey, you have conquered the art film scene…let them think it was you…ha-ha… you are their darling….time to think… bigger….bigger than the whole world and it can all be yours now.

The card is on her side table. I don’t deserve applause, they need an explanation. And you won’t give them one! The guilt I felt was real and the punishment felt deserved. Water is circling the drain. The business card is smudged; it’s smudged with dripping mascara. I’ll have the agent call him tomorrow. She always knows best.

 

 

 

© A.R. Minhas 2016

 

 

On Ishtar’s Dream

“I had a very strange dream,” Addy says out loud. Her co-workers- who- happen-to-be-her-friends are interrupted in the middle of their conversation. There is an awkward pause. Addy breaks her gaze from the window that offers her a view of an intense street lamp flooding the darkened parking lot. She is now met with vacant stares.

“You really like being the center of attention don’t you?” Devorah folds her taut arms in protest of this strange utterance. She stares right at her while Nadine slides deeper into the corner. “We were just talking about Nadine’s problem with trust and—”

“I’m sorry, Nadine. I didn’t mean to interrupt… I thought the drinks would be watered down, but they didn’t hold back today, eh? Ha-ha….anyway…. I’m sorry, please, continue.” She turns towards Nadine, who was sitting right next to her, leaning from the wall to a more upright position.

“It’s ok Addy.  There’s really not much to say anymore…” Nadine brushes aside her frazzled hair; her thick glasses making her look thinner than usual, even if she had brought out her baby blue turtleneck.  “I’m sort of curious about your dream now, though. Go on then tell us, what’d you see?” She folds her arms on the table, placing the side of her face towards, Addy. Sangria, untouched.

“This dream, umm, well I—I don’t know. It felt real, but it was still strange.” Addy said turning her head to the left, placing both her hands on her cold screwdriver, which had a little straw sticking out of it for easier access.

She observed around the remaining guests at Spinning Jennys. This place was usually empty, had cheaper drinks and a very low-key feel to it. The ambiance was relaxing and the music was soft enough so each of them could actually hear one another and carry a conversation without yelling. It was perfect to have a mid-week drink and sometimes they needed it very badly. Today, it had pretty much flat lined… no one was there. The red-haired waitress who was featureless otherwise had migrated into the dark corner, silently counting down the time, probably hoping to close early.

“What does that mean?” Devorah’s loopy earrings were dangling from her tall, frizzy hair. She was wearing a black-and-white low cut dress which was embroidered by floral arrangements. Her vodka, with a thimble of soda water, had a half-lemon floating at the top.

“Well, I’m going to talk about this dream, so, umm, I would love for you both to analyze it ok? It’ll be our little thing.” Addy is nervously twitching at her pony-tail, struggling with her gray pantsuit; she wishes that she had another costume, comfort is key.

“Ok, go on now” Devorah rubs her hands slowly.

“Yes,” Nadine said, leaning forward to get her ears closer, her hands hidden beneath her sleeves.

“I dreamt I was sleeping in my room…mauve sheets and all, right? The dream starts and I wake up. There is a knock on the door, and this isn’t a knock, knock.  This is more like gunshots, a car backing up, etc…. anyway, the door opens up and there’s this handyman. I don’t remember what he looks like but he was a handyman because he said he was, at least… so he says to me ‘I’m here to clean the walls because they are greasy’ …so I look around and surely enough the walls are oozing green blood.”

“Wait, how did you know it was blood?” Nadine asks, she is genuinely curious, hanging on to her every word.

“The corners were stained, rusted. Like how blood dries up.”

“I’m curious too, now.  Continue.” Devorah said, finger-tapping close to her mouth, like a praying mantis, breaking down the dream into its component parts.

“He brings in this gigantic mop and bucket, and he has this duffel bag in between his armpits. The mop basically looked like its head was made by elongated spider legs and the bucket had these noxious-looking bubbles forming and I assumed it would’ve smelled really bad. Anyway, he brings it in, and  he gives me his card, I don’t remember what it said but I ask him how long it will take and he says to me: ‘it will only take a second’. So, umm, he starts cleaning the ooze off the wall. He brings out a ladder from somewhere, don’t ask me how it’s there— it’s just there— and he starts cleaning the corners. He places this bag in the middle of the room, so my bed is like in the far corner, on the right of the door and diagonally opposite corner is the Handyman doing all the fixing…so, he’s up on the ladder and he asks me to ‘get a tool for him…it’s in the bag ’. I get off my bed and I go into the bag and there is nothing there…I tell him that, and he says to ‘look again’. I go deeper. Deeper.  Still, there is nothing. Deeper again. and then I feel something…I grab a hold of it, I don’t know what it is, and then I pull it out— it’s a video tape.”

“Sounds like a very 90’s dream” Devorah laughs, she has just retrieved her phone that was vibrating through her white purse, and now she is checking her text messages. The blue light makes her look much older.

“Ha-ha,” Nadine represses her laugh to accommodate Addy’s feelings she knows how sensitive she can be.  On her part, Addy was a little hurt but she was drunk enough to not care, even if they weren’t paying any attention to her.

“The videotape had a name on it, it was called: ‘Ishtar’s Dream.’” Addy says. “So the Handyman climbs down from his ladder. The walls were clean now, magically, of course, and he says to me: ‘Have you seen Ishtar’s Dream?’ I didn’t know if this was a movie or something so I asked him what was on that tape? And he’s like: ‘It is someone else’s dream and I wanted to give it to you for free’. I’m completely freaked out at this point, I tell him I don’t want it, he asks me: ‘Why?’ and I say I don’t have a VCR.”

All of them chuckled.

“Ha-ha. I thought he was a handyman and now he’s giving dream recommendations?” Nadine asks.

“It’s a dream, people’s motivations change, there are continuity problems and they tend to make no sense. Ha-ha, that’s why I’m asking you guys, right? Anyway, he recommends it to me. He is, at this point, pitching to me, not only that; he starts begging me to watch it, we’re talking on his hands-and-knees and he constantly says: ‘Everything you want to learn will be arranged for you; this is the way.’  I was at this point still not aware that this was a dream and this handyman was coming into my room and offering me a dream recommendation. He kept offering it to me and after a point, my curiosity just got the better of me, and I accepted the dream, or the tape rather.”

“Did you watch the tape? In your dream.”

“I didn’t… as soon as I accepted it, I woke up. I wish I could see it, I just wonder what truth would come out? What secret would be revealed? It’s such a shame. I awoke just before I could figure things out. If there was only a way I could just watch that tape, somehow…”

Devorah, who was still on her cell phone and simultaneously listening to Addy, is frantically looking up the contents of this dream. She puts it in the search engine.

“I found it, I found Ishtar’s dream.” Devorah proclaims.

“What? Really?”

“It was a short film directed by Geeta Gupta. Released about 10 years ago. It’s about a poet who adopts the names of the beloved he can never have. It won a bunch of awards”.

“Maybe, it was a sign for you to watch that movie.” Nadine nods her head.

“Yeah, it’s sounds interesting. I just don’t know how I could’ve had such a vivid dream.”

“I’m sure you don’t know,” Devorah says rolling her eyes.

“Wait, what is that supposed to mean?” Addy says staring at her.

“Well it really makes you sound interesting, doesn’t it? Your dreams giving you access to some mystical information… I just love how pretentious you are.”

“Hey, Devorah, that sounds exceptionally rude of you,” Nadine interjects.

Addy is a little shocked by this. She knows Devorah can be crude at sometimes but she was being very insensitive to her.

“I don’t need to defend myself to you. I’m just telling you what I dreamt, if you think I made it up… then there’s nothing I can say that will not make you think that.”

“I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. I just think you are trying too hard to be interesting. You keep telling us about your damn spirituality and all that new age stuff, which is great but I don’t believe it for one second. Even though I like you, I like how you are…you know?  Your regular self…so you don’t have to pretend that you’ve had this epiphanic dream that will change the course of your life.”

“DEVORAH!” Nadine screams. “Control yourself; there is a time and a place.”

“I’m going out for a cigarette,” Addy says in a silent manner.

“Oh, Addy, please don’t go out because of her…you know how she gets when she’s like this.”

Devorah quietly mutters to herself. Addy turns quickly and motions to the red-haired waitress that she’s just going out for a smoke. The waitress nods in apathy. While in earshot she hears Devorah and Nadine arguing with each other.

“You know how she is”, ” Well is it my fault she can’t handle the truth?”, “I know but you have to be polite”, “I’m sorry I say what’s on my mind and if people have a problem with it, it’s their problem… Besides she brought up the dream herself–”

Addy exits into the cool night. Her thoughts were bombarded with self-doubt. She admonishes herself, maybe it was not the best idea to expose herself like that. But it also felt cruel that her friends or co-workers -who- happen-to-be-her-friends felt like that. That she couldn’t share with them the truth about her dreams, her hallucinations without feeling judged and scrutinized like she was on trial.

She looks around her environment. Nicotine relief. Inhale with beauty. The parking lot is empty, it’s a Wednesday night and people have work tomorrow—It’s so quiet. It’s so peaceful. For a moment, it’s sublime. She thinks about the dream, about what Devorah said. Could she be right… was it all pretension? Was her need of being the center of everything that all-consuming? Did she remember the dream because she was tired of talking about Nadine’s trust issues or Devorah going on about how self-realized she was? Then there was the dream itself, could she have seen a reference to Ishtar’s dream somewhere else and it came in the dream at random? She took her time and cooled off. It was meaningless to be offended by this. The room where the dream happened was hers and hers alone and seeing life, this event of synchronicity was hers to keep. She would now keep the dream to herself, even if it was an incoherent whisper or an exaggerated story.

She goes back inside Spinning Jennys. There were some apologies made. Devorah did her best to be a little kinder but not apologizing fully. Addy was fine with this because she knew her too well. Nadine continued with their conversation by talking about her love of music and how she has found god. Addy and Devorah exchanged their trademark don’t-want-to-touch-that look, by taking a large swill of their respective drinks. They laughed a little harder, drank a little more and hugged each other. Eventually, they had to leave fifteen minutes after the last call as the red-haired waitress hovered over them reminding them of that fact. They split the bill three ways and left a very small tip. They would have left more but it’s not good to force someone to end a conversation just because it’s closing time.

 

© A.R. Minhas 2016

The Red Comes Over

 

“On an unbound road, I’m travelling the snake upward and upward till I reach the mind of the creator.” Sarah Blank said, her pink-gloved hands on ten and two. The tape recorder had slipped into the corner of the dashboard, still on record; clutters of paper at rest, while the car smelled awful: debris of fast food, half-empty cups and wads of plastic wrapping strewn across the backseat of the car. Receipts floating, she had made origamis out of them as the speed accelerated and they too were in flight.

“Glad you aren’t here to see the mess, mother” She said, staring in the rear view almost wanting to see mother’s disapproval, “to see the ocean floor…” She smiled, felt like it was a moment ago that her mother asked her to do this on her death bed. The yellow lines broken but at these speeds they appeared like one. She got cut off by a truck and she welcomed him with a horn pressed firmly and the obligatory ‘asshole’ half mumbled. “The trucks, those damn trucks….hauling dairy, poultry and timber, what adventures they must’ve had, huh, mother?”, her way of getting over things, telling herself stories that filled her with wonder rather than dread. Mother taught me that. She hit one of the uneven surfaces of the highway and the urn emerged out of the residue left in the wake of her recent devouring. She looked at the glint of the urn. Mother’s smile. Barrie 27 miles. Keep going on the 400 and true north appears. She hadn’t applied makeup in days, but her cheeks were redder than usual. Even though she rarely did, she opened the window so she could feel the nibbling of the Arctic howl that was following her. Her curly jet black hair; streams of highlight blonde, unfastened, she still appeared young and stubborn. The dark blue hoodie over a white V-neck, on top of a parka and her grey loose training pants accompanied her carefree look. She took a stop at 85 B, Innisfil, nature was calling her and she obliged. The truck stop was piled with weirdoes. She smiled at them. When you are on a journey little things like that can’t distract you. Got a pack of ciggies, stick of gum and in the tradition of long road trips some Cheetos. Before she entered her black Subaru again she dug through the baggy underbelly of her pockets to rummage her cellphone, the power was off to distance herself from any contact. Curious, she turned it on to see the missed calls and the barrage of messages. Sarah where are you? UNKNOWN NUMBERS. Watsup? We met at the bar last night. Dad is really worried about you, we went to your room… She deleted them all. Kay was worried, big sisters always are but Sara couldn’t care less. She had to see true north. She had to pour mom’s ashes in the lake. She put on her dark shades to avoid anyone looking at her tears and she grabbed the recorder “We are born from the ejaculation into dust… paraphrasing Aurelius, of course” finally pressing stop. It was on record all this time.

She shoved the contents of the plastic bag deep into the recesses of the items collected in her travels. She had acquired dark knowledge of the true self. She got inside the car, forehead touching the steering wheel, her hands on two and ten. She exited the stop, flinging the cellphone and it lay cracked on a service road on its way to true north. Kay’s voice came through with static and concern.

“I saw the red-one again. He always comes at my time of the month. ” she said whispering into her recorder, which she held in her left hand. “He collects my dark blood. I know it. It came in my dream again and that’s why I have to leave” she paused and got her camel lights to burn. “Said it was harvesting my blood— my unfulfilled eggs— so the thing can come through. The thing that has haunted my nightmares. I won’t allow it. I’m leaving behind until the cycle begins again. I’m following the white moon.”  Pressing stop this time. Stubbornness, paving way for defiance. Mother died a fortnight ago. She had cancer, brain cancer.  She promised me once to take her ashes to the lake. The Red lake. She told me not to tell Kay and Dad, said they wouldn’t understand. She saw the creature after the first time she bled and then met him every twenty eight days for ten years. She hadn’t told anyone because who would believe her and thought of him as a part of her nature. A natural ugliness.  But after her mother’s death, the thing appeared every day to her. His red skin, pointed teeth and his pupils dilated to the width of his eyes. The other worldly voice, the low hiss and the harsh rasp.

She passed through gold sycamores, leaves decorating the path, the roads will become virtually inaccessible soon. Visor on eye-level. Sun reflecting. People are strange, playing in the background and she hums to it. The road winds, unwinds and straightens; single laned then it multiplies. “You never know how crazy you are till you meet someone else.” The recorder receives her information without judgement. “I have to pour these ashes in the lake. Born to smoulders.”

The full moon and the headlights provides foresight and everything seems expanded. “Am I imagining things or am I being followed?” full beams in the rear-view mirror. “The car’s been on me since I got off that truck stop,” she said or maybe just paranoid enough.  Watching carefully the road she adjusts the mirror, tailing lights. It doesn’t matter what the past holds, mother, the love of the future should be there. The open road. Lakes, even mosquitoes are welcome on still water. But the red thing whatever it was— whatever it is— it can’t have me, mother, I won’t let it.  “Nature produces ugly things too.” Still following the route, now there was vast stretches of woods, creepy brambles, the odd animals reflective eyes and the yellow deer crossing symbols. She felt the fingers of uneasiness prickling her neck as she kept turning into dark corners of the highway.  The heater didn’t provide comfort in the cold as she intermittently blew on her knuckles and adjusted her gloves— shivering— she drove on through the weird and ancient vegetation; observing the sharp turns on every corner and then from the periphery of her eye; she saw a ghostly figure waving from near a clearing in the forest, a woman in white with blood dripping down her skirt. When surreal things happen, they just happen, they don’t wait for you to accept them. She wanted to keep on driving and she did. “Hello, Sara, where are you running off to?” She turned quickly to the rear-view, a red creature with a smile of horror. She screamed, losing control and car skidding off the road. She slammed the brakes hard and avoided the trees, slowed by the undergrowth. She took a breath of relief and turned around again, the red came over— again— paying her a visit. She took a look back again just the trash staring back at her again. A glint of mother’s ashes. She slams her head against the steering wheel. “Why doesn’t he leave me alone? Why is he everywhere?

Thud. Thud. Thud.

AAA-AAH!” Sarah screamed.

“Help me! Please, help me” The woman in white, with bloodstains on her hands leaving scarlet on frosted glass. “There’s a man. He’s following me. You have to help me!”  Sarah froze trying to access what’s happening. Inner habits took hold. Motherly concern. “Come in quickly!” She opened the door and then slamming shut. The tires whirred in reverse and then made skid marks going faster than usual.

“Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” she said, gaining in volume each time she muttered it.

“Jesus, don’t mention it—there’s a blanket and some water in the back— what happened?” she replied.

“He was following me. Full beams. Ran me off the road— I-I c-can’t, I-I can’t…” she said weeping and taking wild gasps.

“It’s alright we have to get you to a hospital” she said, consoling with her left hand. “Just-umm- hold on.”

She took a moment to notice her. Dishevelled red hair, pale face and those parched lips moaning for air, bruises beneath her eyes and her torn white skirt. The full moon made her skin blue, her skin pores like electric receivers transmitting information. It was like she was manipulating the light or the light manipulating her. Sarah smelled it, something was slightly off with this picture.

“Is there someone we can call for you?” She asked, turning to her while trying to concentrate on the road ahead.

“N-no, I-I d-d-don’t w-want anyone t-to see m-m-me like this…” she said wailing.

“It’s okay, shush, shush, you’re with me now, we’ll go the police, I’m sure there are some patrol officers prowling…” rubbing her hands on her shoulders. She also caught a glimpse of the junk food trail behind. “There’s probably some food at the back, as well, if you can find it. Sorry, I’m a bit messy, I leave crumbs behind…he-he. What’s your name by the way?”

“It’s okay, you’ve already done so much…” she said in a calmer tone. “Judith, names Judith…” she whispered taking the plaid blanket curling like a fetus, tucking in, she slants herself resting her head on the glass, closing her eyes. Sarah, drives with an eye on her. It’s terrible to be this suspicious. She just wanted to get out of the road— it’s getting narrower.

She has to take the next exit, if it comes. Scanning ahead her eyes moving back and forth her head was spinning. Then all of a sudden on her rear-view the man with full beams appeared. He is following too closely.

“Judith! I really need you to fasten your seat belts. This is going to get really bad.”

“He killed my baby….He ran me off the road… and he killed my baby…” She muttered to herself.

“Judith, please you have got to listen to me” she said shaking her violently. Judith was a cold statue and her yelling was like the echo a drowning man hears. “Shit,” she yelled, slamming the accelerator hard but the full beams now blinding her. Blinking rapidly, trying to see and the beams aren’t at the back, whacks into the bender, and then the car is on par. Looking at the side who it was, before she can see Judith emerges from her blanket with grey white eyes and a demonic look.

“HE KILLED MY BABIES! HE KILLED MY BABIES! HE KILLED MY BABIES!”

Lunging forward at her with jaw snapping viciously. “A-aah!” Sarah screamed and like a reflex placed her elbow on her throat, with her teeth biting repeatedly. The car then slammed hard on the other side and the now off course, breaking through to the fences and then drowning in the pool of water.

“When you dream, you dream about your everyday life. But dreams are edited by the universe. They are the extension of life, decay and death. They are, as anything in this life, bizarre, but they have their own system. Duality is just one component of it. Iterations of possibilities. The red is that, it is just the process that generates results it is the thing that takes all possibilities.”

Sarah stopped the recorder. She didn’t know the recorder was playing. She put her dark shades on. She took the exit left.  The cellphone was still on the service road. I’ll be there back again. The gold urn smiled from beneath the water.

THE END.