The Colourful Years

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic


A steady hand petted my cheek, and I looked to see whom it belonged. A tired gaze looked back at me, made friendly by a slight lifting in the corners of the eyes. It was a smile, hidden by a blue surgical mask stretched across the face and attached at the ears.

‘Almost there.’ Chip gun in hand, the elder moved behind the blue veil above me. ‘You won’t feel a thing now,’ he said.

I felt a pain from the base of my head like a burning heat ensue. It radiated up and over my body slowly, darkness from the room moving before my eyes. I woke up in a tightened jolt, black figures dancing over and past my peripheral. A throb sat hammering on both sides of my head, friends with a sound in my ears like a thrum. I took deep breaths in, and it faded in but a few moments. The dizziness fell away, the colours settling on objects the way they ought to. The nausea receded, down again to its subtle hum, and slowly did the noise.
&

‘This shit. Talk to the old man aye? The merchandise was cocked, you know it.’ The early drunkard continued his speech. Plopping his elbows on the table, so close his spit flung on to the other man’s shirt.

‘Look there aint nothing. Not. Nothing I can do, they are spoiled.’ The younger man behind the table gave a sigh, crossing his arms over himself.

Early still the market bustle was slow, most an early riser making deals with stall keepers. I had seen their state and I was watching slyly, slipping the black scarf over my nose. I eyed the older man’s bag; jolly for a beggar for he had stopped paying attention to it entirely. I was strolling over, choosing from the greening potatoes. I crouched down casual like, picking up my laces to knot. Flicking a swift glance at the men I took my opportunity. Snatching the exposed pouch from the bag, I sauntered away into the grouping towns people.

‘Hey.’ An unknown voice spat in my ear, and I spun on my feet.

Stricken I looked around a moment through the people seeing nothing, the sensation of stomach bile rising. I stepped back wide eyed, watching as behind a blurred man farther away a dark figure like smoke or mist lurched. It begun to come to me slowly, curving through market goers. If proved right I had shouted, as a moment passed, and the market went silent. On the soil, though fixed on the silhouette I sat confounded. The figure shifted in and out, side to side, as a faulty projector might. Unnoticed fingers wrapped around my wrist and pulled me to my feet, holding me from falling.

‘That’s mine, you snatch!’ My eyes unblurred, and there the sour drunk was looking, the storekeeper eying at me curiously. Folk in the market stopped to stare from under their hoods, some standing mid chomp on candied beetles which sat between their teeth.

A hand squeezed my shoulder sorely. I turned to see a law keeper, swear in escape, as he pulled the scarf from my chin.

 

&

I watched them throwing lowers into the cells, the robots behind pottering side to side with keys and scanners. One keeper was scanning an inmate’s head. ‘We have here person 264, convicted felon, Eldoris.’ He looked to another keeper nearby. My grazing glance caught another cell, wherein a woman was muttering aloud to herself. I leant against the bars, to watch absentmindedly as she cursed around, her wrinkled hands motioning in the moonlight, heels flicking dirt into the air.

When did it become night?” I thought inward. The old dowager stopped in her step, dead eyes pointing toward me. I felt in recoil.

‘Does it look dark to you? It isn’t. Not. No.’ I looked to the opening above her for a sure. The sun shone through the bars and landed in her greying hair.

‘How did you hear me?’ I asked. Saying nothing, an emptiness in her eyes, she turned.

Unsettled I looked away from the woman. I stood contemplating the room, it was near bare and made with pale rock. I felt a slow tingle over my joints, a fevered murmur that made the room colder. Pulling the coat around myself I took to lying on the cot. It stunk of must and sweat, the springs dug into my side. I gathered my druthers, fallen asleep instantly when my eyelids pulled down by a force.

&

I dreamt of ma, before her absence. How da would sing and mock, how he used to make ma cackle. A quick day of work for the strength in his chip was good. late afternoons in the stocking yards, and da merry with valuable objects from the colourful years. Ma’s face would light up at something he would bring her, a broken machine, a book, one of the coloured plastics.

‘Now love, this is one of my favourite things,’ she might say, pointing at the yellowing paper. ‘See that number one there, that means it’s a first edition.’

Ma was showing me an older time of English. I was remembering in my dreams the books falling to a bit. She had books all around the room on display, other objects too. They’re still there, sitting under dust, da wouldn’t stand to look twice.

&

Stirring I blinked awake slowly, watching the moonlight bend even in dead air. In the quiet a figure moved by unseen like a shadow, I had almost ignored it. My ears perking, a rustling sounded through the room in a small echo. I waited, listening quietly. It became little louder shortly, the echo of thudding footsteps bouncing from cell walls. I heard boots, some grunts, a quiet yelp. I stood up from the sheet slowly, taking my shoes off and sliding over the stone. I peeked from behind the edge, a silly inspection.

The muttering lady was there, grey sheet clutched in her tight fist. Shadowed men holding her and struggling to drag her from her cell. Through her good efforts her body finally slumped and together they hauled her from the room. I heard a small click and the shutting of a door down the hall. There was something wrong, wrong.

&

I stopped pacing on my toes, feeling my suspicion grow larger in time. Filling my lungs and sighing I stared, eying the large lock. “I might have done this before. Might I?” I shifted from foot to foot, my nerves on an edge, and placed my hands on the bars. My concentration was waning with many moments passing, and the room growing colder. After a time I stooped, holding on still. A while longer and a slow warming made its way down my arms, into my hands swelling. I had forgotten where I was a moment, though I felt I could touch the heating mechanics when they jolted. A short passing, a small breath, and the door clicked open.

 My heart was beating against my ribs, and I was looking at my plump hands alarmed. This only happens illegal like, a gift bought. They are unnatural special abilities, this bought from the black markets. A folk’s chip edited, their body maimed, more unnatural than sub-human. That’s what we had been taught for. “I remember it.” Why I felt the sweat run off my chin and drop by my feet; why my body was heating and what this meant, I wondered.

&

 

I waded down the dark hall, my feet bare and face hidden. I heard the clacking of shoes behind me.
&

‘You’re awake.’

In a blurred look I thought the woman’s hair was fire, frightening and fierce. I had looked to the ceiling, but it was not flayed nor burnt.

‘It seems so.’ The walls were white around us. “Blinding.” The floors were white, and her shirt glowing. My eyes narrowed in sarcasm, ‘It’s bright.’

‘Does it feel good to be in the light?’ She stood from her seat, and I leant back into mine to tug. The straps around my ankles and wrists were tight restraint, and my revolt was painful. ‘Was that the first you had seen abilities? Or did you know it already?’

‘I didn’t buy it.’ I looked to her surprised, taken in a sudden terror.

She laughed. ‘Always confused, the people we bring, the worst ones.’ She looked at me, leaning over as if to watch a bird in a box.

‘You took that woman.’ I said it low, accusation clear.

She laughed again, without guilt in her eyes, her sclera glowing in the light. ‘One of the crazier ones, lost in their own making.’ She pinched my chin up, leaving my neck to crane tightly. Removed, her fingers stroked over my eyes, pulling my lower eyelids down. ‘You’re on your way,’ she said it slow, peering.

‘You make me tired,’ I complained, turning my head away.

‘They all get tired after a time, and where does that leave us?’ Moving over the room, before turning to face me she said, ‘Maybe you should sleep.’

‘It blends together, I keep waking and my body keeps moving. Will you stop it?’

&

The hustle of old America. In the depths of Tristis where can you go wrong? Petty theft yes, what else?” People walked past me in just short of a hurry. Some were covered in dust, on their way from a journey into the trade routes, perhaps illegal trade. Two men were before me, arguing over foul potatoes.

‘This shit. Talk to the old man aye? The merchandise was cocked, you know it.’ The drunk planted his elbows on the counter.

‘Look there aint nothing. Not. Nothing I can do, they are spoiled,’ said the stall keeper.

I was watching the man distracted from his pouch, when a black mist had fallen over them, and startled I stepped away, bumping into an old man. In return he grunted and muttered a swear under his breath, shooting me an evil eye. I looked back unconcerned of him; the air was clear save for the slow fog building over the market. There was no black mist to be seen. I blinked and rubbed my eyes, assuming my sanity was waning.

&

The city was beautiful in winter, I was thinking and chewing on my stolen bread. Sipping on a canteen of goat’s milk I looked to the distance grateful, there the mountains stood above me. The fog was slow to covering us like a blanket and the morning was cold. The nature was wide, and green, and wet. I found myself relaxing still, myself covered and covert, alone at last, ignored.

I breathed in the morning air, standing to walk down the road, watching the world around me. In the distance came a cluttering as some carts came rolling past, and some goats on strings following a man passing. I heard a peculiar yelling not far into the distance and crossed the road, eying for figures in the fog curiously. A young chap there, a deformed fellow, stood over broken boxes of merchandise and a short stack of hay.

‘What did I hire ye for eh? Thems robotic arms, they do nothing! Not! What waste.’ An older man with dirty clothing stood close to the slumped lad, yelling, and hitting the boy cross the head with a cane.

‘Sir!’ I yelled over, ‘I might offer you a good price. The markets offer is good today, many a mighty fellow looking for work and lots of goods. I saw an older lad not far away giving potatoes without fee. Were I help to say, you might desire to get there early, I see your goods here ruined,’ I said.

The man squinted down the road, not seeing much for the fog. ‘Ah, aye. I must take leave with some haste. Thank you.’ He turned to the broken lad and sneered, pointing with his cane. ‘You gather these and bring them to me.’

When we were sure the aging badger was gone, I turned to the lad as help. We were putting the whole unbroken parts into sacks.

‘I thank, he is very nasty,’ the boy turned his head to say.

I nodded in response, ‘mm, corrupt man, I’ve seen him about.’ I finished putting the last into a sack. ‘Be on your way hastily, though if I may say, you need to find some new work.’

‘I can’t. Not. Not to find it in my state.’

‘I understand of that. Good luck to you.’ With that I turned away.

&

It all happened quickly; I was standing first. A queer screeching came through my ears, deafening me. Then a peddling cart came from my side, with a flashing of hessian, glass, cotton fabrics and wood. I lifted my arm across my face, an attempt to shield it from the oncoming barrage of homeware. I stood shielding my face still, expectantly, until I came to my senses again. When I lifted my hand from my face, my feet were still planted firmly on the ground, my body unbroken. In front of me lay the peddling card in pieces, and farther away the driver unconscious by the side of the road. I felt my hands tremble by my side but no thoughts came. Shards of glass and blood lay by my feet, and a sudden stinging was felt on my skin.

A gargling and a strangled gasp came from behind me, to which I turned dumbly. The boy with his sacks was there, back slumped against the rock border of the road. He sat staring down at himself with a pale face, down at his body which was soaked in darkness. I had realised it was blood when his fingers moved from himself in a handprint of red. I shuddered as I walked slowly, kneeling on the road beside him. I was outside of myself, no words came; but I knew in that moment, that if I touched him, I could stop it. I reached out with a sweaty palm, laying my hand over his. I breathed deeply when a feeling came, it was the feeling of what life felt of. It was warm and hot, cold and unruly like the sea, it smelt like dampness and fern. It was a light that streamed through me like a tremor from the world around, and it funnelled through me into him. It spread and lingered until it was sure that every sickness, and every broken part of him was mended in light. At the moment the light ended, that I had given it to him, was the moment that the fog grew. I opened my eyes once more, I took my hand back from the fog. He was nowhere that I could see, but there it was again. A black mist rising from the ground slow, towering above me to leer at my wake.


Submitted: November 28, 2021

© Copyright 2022 Flambe. All rights reserved.

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Comments

llywrch

You have some vivid scenes, & appear to have some intent of where you want to take us... But I honestly don't understand this story.

It's clear that there is a narrative involving being in a prison or jail, & another about a man in an open air market -- but I'm not certain how they relate. And then there are two scraps here: something about putting a chip in someone's head, & another about "Ma" & "Da" & their books.

I need more information in this story to understand it.

BTW, I assume the ampersands ("&") are there to indicate breaks between sections. If so, may I suggest using another symbol?

Sun, November 28th, 2021 8:47am

Flambe

Thanks for your feedback! It's more there for you to use your imagination to interpret the full storyline. The point is, she's waking up in different timelines. That's what I intended anyway, I guess I didn't translate that well.

Sun, November 28th, 2021 10:03am

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