The ground feels like ice under my feet, biting and harsh against my own thin layer of skin. It should’ve made me stop from running somehow. But instead, it miraculously gave me more than enough strength and agility to keep on moving. Away from that monster, away from that building, --- away from that thing I often call 'home'.
I came to a stop the moment I became close to this large and vast village. It's always guarded by heavily armored men who seem to smell death more often rather than life. This part of our community always scratch that part of my mind, telling me to venture further and seek for the truth inside it. And this day is designed for me to actually do what my curiosity tells me to do.
Barefooted with a muddy white nightgown, I ran fast toward the gate the moment the guards left their post to attend someone--- a big man wearing a fancy golden mask that hid his whole face from this world, his suit is that of a wealthy business man with a black coat, pink tie, black pants and shiny black shoes, who just came out of a truck-like black van. That must've been the color of wealth. Black. As dark as their greed.
The moment I climbed my way inside, more of his kind came gushing out of the vehicle, wearing the same masks either in silver or gold. There are also women in their dazzling and coquettish gowns. I stopped short in awe but it only lasted for a few seconds.
A guard suddenly looked toward my direction and all that I can remember is the endless sound of gunfire, shooting toward my fragile body. Sadly, no one can hear them since this part of our town is more than secluded enough to conceal private things and meetings like this. And also because no one cares about this kind of things. No one cares about anyone.
I climbed back on the gate frantically as they chased me from behind. Call it fortune or what since I dropped back outside even before they could start shooting me down again.
I quickly threw a glance behind me and I saw them, raising their guns again to shoot. But my eyes flew wide open the moment I saw naked people disembarking from another van of the same sort. And then they all kneel down and from afar, I've heard laughs that resembles that of a very wicked antagonist. Then, a woman suddenly got close to a naked girl who seems to be of my age, 22, and then I saw her take something out from her purse.
"No." is the only word that escaped my lips when she slashed the woman in the face with her knife. And all of them clapped and laughed like devils.
I want to do something but then, a bullet hit me on my left shoulder, making me run once again. Far from that hell, far from my own hell. And with a little more push of courage to myself, something in me snapped, and all of life's good memory came crushing out of me, leaving only the bad ones as a fair treat for the insane.
Chapter 1: The Ballad of Danger
"In the middle of the water still,
A ripple, a drop have made it clear.
The whole swollen world's shrill,
A water, a ripple, a drop, and all things died in fear."
Everyone's too busy doing things which could only benefit their own narrow worlds. They're all talking yet no word can ever penetrate deeply for me to hear them.
Same simple minds doing the same simple normal things, living the same normal life. Oh I will never wonder how it feels to be normal. Because for sure, it sucks to rot when you are still alive.
And I remember that the teachers I once had are the same. I mean, they shouldn’t be that way, right? They should be more approachable, more open minded and more understanding than other human beings. Because they are more experienced, more advanced when it comes to thinking. But, I was wrong.
Most of them fear the unknown, loathe the complicated, and are disgusted of differences. I enjoyed talking to them once. That is when someone tried to explain to me the importance of unity yet when I tried to speak of my opinion, they deported me to the guidance office and called my parents about it. But sadly, they are not around for they have sent me far, far away from them.
I just told Mr. Vachrizt, our personal development teacher, that - "How is unity said to be important when people try to isolate those who doesn't agree to the society's laws and standards? How is unity important when everyone fancy being diversified so much because of their own ethnocentric views and beliefs?" And so, I was kicked out of Rein College for "disrespecting" my professor and his perspectives.
But before that, I was enrolled on another school to finish my senior high degree. And that school is Stalegate High in...I don’t know where. My memory won’t even serve me right. But according to my parents’ letter, I also didn’t last in there and caused great humiliation in our family name.
Oh seven hells. They’re too afraid to be exposed that way. And yet they failed to somehow, restrain me before I could even lounge an unexpected trivial attack to my teacher’s petty understanding. How hilarious was that?
And now that I'm a college drop-out, I'm trying so hard to earn money no matter how it wounds my ego that much. Yeah. Talk about comprehending and living. No matter how I loathe the system, I'm still at the lowest stage of the pyramid of power. A sheep. A black one. But to hell with metaphors at this moment, I'm no sheep. I can stride upwards and achieve the highest stage. And eventually, become the all seeing eye if ever.
Such ambitions were never new to me. Well, at least never new to me and the man who always appear in my dreams. But maybe before I could even attain such thing, I'll either be locked up in prison for years first or if I'm lucky enough, a decade in a mental hospital will suffice. Either way doesn’t even sound nice to my own soul. And the thought of it makes me shiver. Not in cold I hope, but in fear.
Anyway, I'm on my night shift this week and it's already 6 P.M. I packed my things up already an hour ago so that I'll just pick them up if ever. A great planner and organizer I am, don’t you think?
It’s just a shoulder bag by the way which consists of a blue journal and a pen in it. And I think I'll bring my iPod with me. I'm really allergic to human bullshits and I don't think I still have the capacity to hold myself down from reducing this world’s population in a half. Well at least the government will acknowledge me for doing the job for them. And I on the other hand, will thank them ‘fakely’ as I transfer the poison in me to their own decaying veins. Should you hear this lament of mine with a very evil laugh filling the air around you, or should you just imagine it. Choosing both will be a lot much better anyway.
Well, have I told you already where I am at the moment? I'm currently in my room in my OWN house here in L.A. And I’m alone, without any other human being to bother me and without memories to haunt me.
And if you’re going to ask why my parents sent me away, it’s because of that incident on my previous senior high school. At least they sent me with this house waiting for my arrival here in Los Angeles all along with a letter, telling me how humiliated they were after that incident and not to bother studying here anymore. Which I definitely didn’t follow.
I don't know where they are right now. But I guess they're fine. They even said that they’ll be back to be with me. For so long I’ve waited for them to arrive by my door and ask me how I am. The letter I’ve received only guarantee me of their coming, without any actual date that could answer my question---when.
Well, let me describe my room to you. I just really need to rivet my attention away from that sad thought.
It’s not that dark, depressing, suicidal type of room. Actually, I like the colors green, blue and pink. So the very first time I worked on League's coffee shop and got my first salary in that place, I quickly bought some paint and changed my room's white color to a more lively pink one.
The tables I've painted green, and the cabinet I've painted blue all along with the railings of my window. And oh! The book shelf is also painted in blue color! And the mini vase on which I grow a cute tiny bonsai has the color of green, this one’s resting on the window sill actually.
My bed's color is separated into three. The bed post is blue, the bed itself is pink, and underneath it is green. It doesn't have four feet to support it, it's just a bed with a flat and solid supporter underneath.
The decoration of my room is also simple yet, it have this artistic touch. Well, artistic enough for me. I just don’t know if it is the same for you since I am one of those who they call ‘frustrated’ artist. Well, not that frustrated perhaps. Since my own definition of ‘beauty’ ranges from metaphors and simplicity. Or maybe I’ve just said the latter with great consideration for the money I get from my jobs. Since I really, really can’t afford a Mona Lisa or the likes. Because aside from my money problems, I know better than to scare myself out by those extraneous paintings.
I have eight posters of mixed colors, all decorating the pink wall, and five framed mini paintings on the wall above of my bed. All depicting nature and some doodles made by your very own Macey using her own paint. While those framed ones, well, I just bought them from a homeless man who is so damn good at it. But really, I just want to help him somehow. Because deep inside me, I guess I know how it feels to be like him. Or maybe I’m just observing too much.
What else? Should I really tell you about everything else inside this room of mine?
Well, most of my things are scattered on the tables. Like, my notebooks, pens, and some books suddenly became a menace on my tables’ existence. Good thing I am alone, living in this petty house of mine. No human being will ever shower me with scolding every single time. Peaceful. Very, very peaceful.
Anyway, my tables’ style is not like the typical table used by many human beings. It's more of the type used by many call center agencies where there are walls on its sides and front. And on this mini walls, I pinned some notes and some of my poems. Just to remind me of some things. While on my other table which is the same as this one, lies the excess books which I can't add up to my book shelf anymore. And also, a table lamp and some pencil and a small green notebook.
In this room, my dad bought me a large TV set before, sending it to me via delivery. And it's still here. So, when I'm bored and tired like heaven, I'll just turn it on and I'll relax with it. Watching several movies is a great time killer. And mostly, X-rated films of course.
I’m really baffled on the fact that I actually am too attracted to porn and anything else related to it. Or maybe it’s just because I’m already old and is in need of a man--- yeah. No matter how I loathed human beings I can’t ignore the fact that I still need them. And this is my own paradox.
Anyway, the carpet's also simple. Its color is silver. And it's really fluffy. Although it's a hassle to wash it monthly. It's too big and heavy and the struggle to take it off of the floor all along with everything on top of it is just too tiring. Not that I'm complaining about it but, I hope I have a real human being too beside me every time I need their help. No man's an island, right?
I also have companions in this house anyway. Six cats and a dog. All of them are sleeping with me here in my room but, they are in the living room right now.
Why animals? Well, at least I have company. At least I'm not alone here. Because sometimes, even if we do not admit it to ourselves, it is dead haunting to be all alone in a world filled with human beings.
This house's not that big. A bungalow. The dining table is beside the cooking venue, the comfort room is separated from the bathroom, both at the opposite side of the dining area but is beside the receiving area and the living room. My room is beside the dining room, and the door is near the receiving area. And in the mini living room, we have a big LED TV just like the ones in my personal haven and two big audio sets and three sofas adjacent to each other and a glass table. In the dining room we have the sink and a refrigerator and also five chairs arranged around the round wooden table. And in the kitchen we have the cooking paraphernalia, a round and wooden table, and a gas stove.
In the comfort room of course we have a sink and a bowl. And in the bathroom, a bath tub is present all along with a shower beside it, the soap is placed on a soap basket on top of the tub and on top of the sink is the toothbrush holder, containing my only toothbrush whose appearance is still acceptable and is still useful.
And to make it all short, I’ve just described a natural house.
Someone's calling me. Oh. That's my phone ringing by the way. Does it sound weird? Yeah?
Well, it's the opening song of Game of Thrones, cat version. I mean, credits to the maker. Really nice, real cute. Real good!
I fished my phone from the pocket of my jeans and saw the screen name "Marion Dales" on it.
"Where are you Macey?" He's using his authoritative tone of voice right now. Although it gave me the chills, it can't make me tremble and obey him like a stubborn homo.
"Home." I said. Mixing the irritated tone with the most peaceful tone I have. I know he'll never let me stay here for another millisecond so I added, "And I'm preparing myself up. Don't worry, I won't be late." I heard him sigh and finally…
"Good. Don't be late. I still have a date with my girlfriend tonight. You understand? Bye." He ended the call right away, making me frown sarcastically as if he will see me and be mocked.
Marion is my subordinate----to be. Someday.
Anyway, he's my co-worker in the coffee shop. A human who enjoys having intense moments with his lover. Yes. He has a lover. And do you know how old he is right now? Give me your most planned guess.
I am twenty-two and is still alone, waiting for my parents to come fetch me. Or most of the time, I’m waiting for someone like me too, or someone who could talk to me all day in different levels of depth. Someone who could tell me more about this world’s atrocities and maladies. But I guess, most human beings are too happy with their own selves that they won’t give the world a second look.
While he’s still on his fresh 20s and is already having his own fantasies fulfilled. Damned human being.
Well, I really need to be on my way to the coffee shop right now. It's already 6:30 P.M and my job will start in 30 minutes.
I picked my green shoulder bag up from the table near my window and scurried towards the door while re-aligning my sandals properly with my feet. My cats quickly made their way towards me, purring and massaging my leg with their cute and fluffy bodies.
"Alright. Alright. You've been good to me so I'll give you a reward for lowering the risk of me having some heart disease."
I made my way through the kitchen and reached in for the cabinet on top of the sink. I took six cans of cat food and quickly walked toward their food bowl beside the glass table and filled them separately with their treats.
Well, good thing is that they all know how to wait as I fill their bowls one by one. They just kept on leaping at me, smelling at the can I currently have in hand, meowing or maybe cursing me for being a turtle, and one of them has her sharp nails on my left arm! Even with my black cotton jacket I can still feel her nails digging in to my soft skin!
Quickly as I can, I finished preparing their food and they all went to their bowls and munched cutely and silent--- well, maybe not silently.
"Arf! Arf! Arf!"
I turned my head right only to be licked by a wet tongue straight on my face, from my chin up to my forehead. Good thing make-up is not my interest. Or else, Hoard might’ve been poisoned right now or I might be rummaging around this house shouting about my current demise.
I hugged him tightly and cuddled him as if I'm never coming back. This dog is just so muscular. Although his breed is still a mystery for me.
"You want to eat? You want to eat you big good friend of mine?" I said as I head-booped with him and stood up to take his cereal. It's not literally a cereal though. It's just my own metaphor for his food since it looks like cereal for me. Brown ones.
Reaching again for the cabinet, I took his food out, a box filled with his yummy treat. I went to the microwave to get his milk out. And, no. I did not microwave his milk. I only placed it there just to make sure that it won't lose that much warmth.
Closing the microwave and the cabinet as I passed towards the glass table where his food bowl is, carefully pouring his food and milk on it, he quickly and happily licked his food and ate merrily with his little companions, I found myself smiling. Not because I’m crazy, no. But because I know that somehow, they are happy to be here with me. And that is enough motivation to keep me on the move.
I took the box and the glass with me again to the kitchen, putting them back into their rightful positions. Then I went back toward my companions and stared at them. A sigh escaped my lungs as I smiled at the sight of these beings who never left me. Cute and fluffy beings.
As quick as a lightning, realization hit me.
I need to go!
"Okay. Listen. Your mother will be out for work again and I'll be home on our usual time. 3 A.M sharp okay? So I want you to be safe and please don't wreck this house while I am out okay? I love all of you." I hanged my bag on my right shoulder and took the cans with me. "I'll bring you some treats later!" I hurriedly closed and locked the door behind me after throwing the cans into the trash bin. The night has already fallen upon us. Good thing my eyes are just like my cats'.
The road is cold and bright. Thanks to the street lights illuminating the dark road ahead of me. At least I won't be that afraid of what might hop in from the dark spaces between them.
Oh shut your hysteria Macey Agary! As if you are alone in this street filled with walking strangers and humans whose existence you have rejected as real!
Well, yeah. There are indeed humans walking by, teens laughing with drugs and alcohols in hand, couples talking about sex and how wonderful BDSM can be, oldies grumbling about how the world suddenly forgot about its origin, babies crying while their mother carry them, hand to hand with their alcoholic lover, and some are just like me, with the hoodie jacket and the piercing stare. Analyzing and breaking in to the most intricate surface every human being try to mask. And of course, the excess, the five percent of this society who doesn't give a damn about anything, simply because their lives are already at its finest and they have nothing else to worry about except for the color of their coffin.
"Taking advantage of the scenery, are we?"
A gasp escaped my mouth when a sudden voice spoke to me from behind. I tried to look at my back only to see the slightly crowded street. Damn! If I only put my earphones on I would’ve never felt this trepidation cursing over my body.
But there’s no one behind me. Am I---am I being haunted by ghosts now? After all that I’ve been through, I will be seeing ghosts now?
"The hell are you doing cowering yourself like my grandpa walking toward the dining room? You sick, Macey?"
"Aaaaaahhhhh! Get away from meeee! Aaaaaaaah!" I started wailing my arms around me. Hoping that they'll become knives and cut the owner of that voice who freaked the hell out of my guts. But I guess my imagination won't save me out of this fear I am in. Why do I need to be this afraid anyway?
Oh. Why indeed? After all the murders, homicides, killings, threats, and sins that I've witnessed live or in the television, add the frequent suicide videos live on Facebook, you think someone like me should never be afraid?
The human mind, after achieving and continuously achieving the epitome of its capabilities, gets bored of its flat way of work and starts to defy its created reality. Making its carrier to actually believe that whatever the mind does, it’s all for the good of the carrier.
A simple deception, yet a very powerful belief that could surpass evil itself.
Now do tell me again, should we not all be afraid of these alive minds controlling these living corpses?
It's warm. It got warm all of a sudden. Despite the effort of my jacket to keep me warm lately, the cool breeze of the air still prevailed. But right now, I felt warm, secure. Yet I also feel violated. And what's that frequent sound I hear similar to the ones I've heard once when I was still in... I forgot. But I know that I was using the stethoscope to listen into the most intricate organ of a human being back then. Could it be...
"The hell? You okay, Macey?"
"You hadn't changed since we were in grade school. Still losing your sense of reality? You know I really wanted to--"
I broke free from his hug only to realize that he's tall. A six-footer perhaps. The street lights are not enough for me to see his face and somehow, knock some memory in me. Although I'm aware of my case having this dementia, prohibiting me to remember people's faces since the day I woke up in that strange house I’m currently living in.
I'm looking downward at my feet, pulling at my lower lip to hide my mini-embarrassment for what happened earlier.
It's not like I see it in romantic kind of way, that hug of him I mean.
It's just that, I'm not the touchy type and I really despise being touched by human beings. Because my mind registered them as 'malwares' that could damage my own system if touched or allowed to get near me. The type of malware that can corrupt my non-conforming body into a conforming idiot zombie doing the same cycle of life. Oh, the phantasm of the naive.
Wake up, eat, study/work, eat, sleep, wake up. Then repeat it again and again until you satisfy the upper hand who are also inside their own loop, doing the same thing over and over again, giving you money to work for them as if you are their cattle, and these worth-your-life papers called money feeds you to keep going and keep on producing for them. Which of course, they mask as 'for the economy' of this world.
But somehow, things like this monetary system kept this world in balance.
Without money, people won't have order. With pure equality, this world will fall into chaos. People will strive to maintain that equality, and no one would like to work for years for the sake of other people who only know how to slack around. And without money, the lowest in the order cannot strive for power that easily. Money is power. And power is power. Without money, if you are on the very base of the pyramid of power, you will remain a debt slave. Much more indebted this time to the highest of the order, to the unseen hand, to the top one percent of this world who controls us all. And that said, you could nev--
"---So, I think I could, come with you tonight? I was told that you are working as a part-timer at a library downtown every morning. And at night, you work at a coffee shop by both tending the customers and reciting your poems. Nice and exciting job you have in there actually. "
Have he been talking all this time? What have I missed? Oh, damn. Maybe this is what isolation did to me.
For years I have shut myself in to avoid any human interaction while silently observing all of them. One at a time. And when I ran out of people whom I can study, my mind creates one for me. That was my life for the past five years since I woke up at that--- well, anyway, I never regret any of it though. And that I guess is the most important thing for me to remember.
I looked up at him, not staring at his eyes though since I can’t see them, remember? I just focused either on his chin or on his forehead which shines a little proudly than the rest of his face.
"Who are you again?" Well, it is not a sin to ask someone who isn't that familiar to you, right?
He chuckled and brought his right hand up to his mouth to wipe it down and, I suppose he smiled at me.
"What?" My eyebrows crossed this time.
Is he mocking me for forgetting who he is?
"Jason, Macey. I am Jason. The guy from Stalegate Elementary School, remember? The one who frightened you before with a dead spider?"
Well, I pity him. Because no matter how hard I try to remember his existence and that scene's existence, I always end up in a dark dead-end on my mind.
“Does it ring a bell, Macey?”
Okay. I admit that me and my brain are not really in good terms as of now but, well, who in the seven hells is this guy?
"Jason what? Jason Momoa? Jason the murderer?"
A car passed by with its light on and I saw his face. His thick eyebrows crossed and it is more intimidating for me since he's looking down at me as if I'm the smallest person alive. The jawline of his face is masculine as it should be and his eyes turns out to be pretty tantalizing as well. Anyway, back to what I was saying. I have to match his attitude with the intensity of my stupidity or idiocy or whatever this is---wondering perhaps?
"Hell, you joking or what? It's me, Jason Freuller. From Virginia. I see your mental state got worst. Pffft."
"And I see that what's best for me is worst for you. Anyway, I really can't afford to remember you at the moment. Maybe because you're not important to me after all.” I glanced at my watch and my eyebrows lifted in surprise to see the time. “Uhm, I'm kind of late for work so, if you want to come with me, then, feel free to walk with me now. No time to waste."
With that, I kept on walking, getting faster and faster every second. And I can see that he's trying to catch up with me. Even with his endless blabbering about how good his new school's soccer team was, which is the most boring news I've ever heard perhaps; how nice the girls are in there, how someone's bra got ripped off while dancing on stage, how he won his first basketball team award, etc. The human basis. The one I try so hard to improve and to change into something worth dying for, remembering each living memories of every human beings which focused on adventures and free living.
Reaching the shop five minutes after the designated time for arrival, he automatically slumped down on one of our sofas while whining for air and relaxation.
Oh. So this is what a basketball player is? Someone who runs around the court for hours, catching the ball, dribbling, taking, turning, jumping, shooting, etc., without getting that tired easily. While half walking, half running with me to a two kilometre coffee shop made him slump around catching for dear air. The irony.
I entered the facility room and dropped my bag at the table and greeted the manager with all sun shines and rainbows. When in reality I just really turned on my special “it’s all glittering!” button to cover the “the darkness dwells within me” show in my life.
"Well, uhm, I'm not that late, right ma'am?"
She stared at me as if she's going to eat me whole, and alive. Her eyes sending hot waves of fury towards me, ready to cook my living soul--
"Ya fuckin' got me worried!" She quickly hugged me so tight as if I'm her missing child.
Well, she's beautiful, a black beauty to be exact. And she's slim and she's fragrant. But all of that doesn't change the fact that she is a human being. And all human beings stinks with atrocities and liabilities. This is the second malware I need to clean once I get home. Remind me that.
A smile formed in my lips as I try to pat her back lightly, then the moment I felt more in charge of the scene, the ‘lightly’ patting became harsh pounding on her back. "I'm fine?" She released me and looked at me while crossing her arms in front of her chest.
Manager Ellie's have the same height as me. 5'4. Making communication easier and better.
"Good to know that ya're fuckin' fine ya idiot! The news is still filled with crimes. People are killin' each other! People are dyin'. And who knows if ya next?"
I shrugged my head, indicating my response as ‘No. I can't be next.’ while removing my jacket to reveal our cafe t-shirt uniform on top of my long sleeves. It’s a pink one with a printed League Cafe at the back.
"Poor lad! Ya even watching yar tv? Everyone. They all gone crazy! Fillin' this world with ma’ness!"
"Well, I guess you should also be wary of your surroundings. The victims usually are pretty women who have slim bodies and all."
"Should I be takin' that as a threat? Go on outside and serve our cus’omers."
She smiled at me before shunning me toward the door, making me throw the jacket on the table. And even when I was about to close the door behind me, I still heard her murmuring about that complement of mine. Well, at least I know my way around human beings after all.
The cafe's filled with humans. Most of them are workers from different companies, some are just couples enjoying the solitude of our shop, some are families enjoying coffee and music together, and some are the so-called 'geeks' who always bring books to read here.
And on the three sofas adjacent to each other, a man whose name is Jason can be seen sitting and sipping on his coffee. He seemed preoccupied by his phone. Maybe he's chatting with his girlfriend or whatsoever.
Is he even my obligation right now? Should I go near him and entertain him? Well, he did come with me here but, does it mean that I should pamper him? It's worth a shot though. We will know the answer once we try to take the risk. I have low uncertainty avoidance after all. And all of what I've risked upon are worthy.
I walked toward him while reciting and practising some sentences in my head.
Initiating a conversation isn't really my style. But when I do, humans kept on staring at me like a dunce waiting to be excused from a boring lesson.
And also, I'm always nervous when I'm talking to them. Too many possibilities continuously showing up in my head. My mind won't stop analyzing, criticizing, reading, and studying the human being I'm talking to. Making him/her vulnerable to me. Thanks to their body language, offering me more facts than I ever needed.
Sometimes I think I can converse with someone effectively if my eyes are closed. But then, it will only give more power to my mind to read and study the person more efficiently. And it will also open the door that leads towards my doubts and suspicions. Making me look more awkward than usual.
"You stay there, okay? I need to work." I said while clamping my hands behind me in fear.
Jason just nodded at me while scrolling on his phone. Well, this only mean one thing--I am a free elf! Macey is a free elf!