I look into her eyes and whisper, “I thought we’d never come back from that one.” She kisses me.
We make it back to the dilapidated apartment building we call home. The world has fallen apart, but at least we are together and alive. Scrounging survivors like us are everywhere and meeting others is always risky and unpredictable. Many of us have not come back at all. Each day we survive is a victory.
I thought about this long and hard. Going through all the things I could think of, but so much of it is useful or has been in some way a progression our species. I thought about guns and weapons, the internet and our obsessions, religion and God. But all of it feels necessary with it’s absence something would be created to replace it. I was stumped.
Then money popped into my head.
Humans are inherently greedy. It makes sense, at least from an evolutionary stand point. However money has allowed us to count are greed. We can literally count how much we are worth to the world. We have become obsessed with money and value and accumulation. We always want more, more money, more things, more something. Nothing is enough, there is always something better.
That kind of thinking isn’t all bad, we need to think that way to progress, to be better. But maybe if money wasn’t around we wouldn’t be so obsessed with things and the accumulation of wealth. Maybe we would think more about our intrinsic value, our value to the world. How much we know, or can do, or have done. Art and creativity might be more highly valued instead of stuff.
I realize that the world would be vastly different without money, and in all likelihood we would replace it with some sort of alternative because things have to cost something. Who knows maybe we might eventually reach a point in our society where money is cast aside, where wealth is thought of differently. Maybe our greed will shift to the pursuit of happiness instead of the pursuit of accumulating the means to buy happiness.
The torch in the sky sets on another day. The clouds glow, orange and red gouge the blue above my head. Finally this day will be consumed by the night. Darkness, my greatest ally will soon arrive. The night is my friend, without it my work would be nigh impossible. The sun begins to dip below the horizon, shadows begin to cover the streets. It is time to move.
I walk down the narrow streets, shops are closing and the population is readying for the coming night. I must find my destination soon, there is still much to do before my task is done. I have been plotting and planning for several months, tonight everything shall come together. I am close, so close. I keep moving, darkness has arrived and with it I have become a shadow, moving quietly to my purpose. I can see candles lit in windows, I must avoid drawing attention, I stick to the shadows, I must remain unnoticed.
I am close now, the house is not far. I begin to climb, swiftly I ascend one of the many stone houses, the crags and sills allowing me to with ease. Once I reach the roof I find my bearings once again, seeing the last vestige of light dipping beneath the earth. Up here there is not another soul, save a crow which follows me as I cross from rooftop to rooftop. My soft leather shoes allowing me to progress without a sound. Finally I reach my target, the building is large, with many windows, many entrances. The many roofs of the building reach high into the sky, it is a mighty building, a castle some might say.
There is movement behind the panes, the candlelight reveals silhouettes as they patrol the many rooms. My task will not be an easy one, but I press on. The buildings are packed together tightly in this city. There are a number of possible entrances to the castle, I find a window in an optimum position. I move closer, I am reminded of the first occasion I completed a task such as this. It was a similar enough task, although I was much younger and far more the fool, inadequate planning was punished severely, scars remain as a harsh reminder. Since those days I have become much more careful.
Even a man of my, profession can find love and years ago I did. It is funny, as I look back, she did not care for me, at first. I swooned over her for years. She refused any invitation I made, thinking I was a simple thief, a cutpurse, an outlaw. She was only somewhat correct, but in those days I was a fool, a headstrong fool. As age took me I realized that she was more important. It took time, but eventually I showed her the depth of my love. I vowed to never steal again. She still does not know my true profession. After this night she will never need to for this is to be my last job, forever. I will never take another life, save this one. This one life can change so much, our world hangs in the balance because of him. I find myself caring for a family which has made me all the more cautious.
I reach the window, preparing myself for what I must do. I slow my breathing, making sure my heart is not nervous, I need silence. I need to become a shadow, shifting from room to room unnoticed. I begin. I enter through the window, the room is dark and books fill the shelves. I move quickly to the door. I hear nothing as I listen, not a footstep or a breath, I silently pull the door open. Peering out, I find not a soul to greet me just as I expected. I move into the hall, soon finding myself at a grand staircase, up I go. Huge paintings of arrogant rich nobility cover the walls, at the top I find a large oaken door. Suddenly footsteps, around the corner a light, I move to a shadowed corner and watch. A man holding a candle turns the corner, aged and slow moving, he opens the door and shuffles into the room. I wait a few moments and then follow, I am a shadow. I am the night.
At the head of the room sits an enormous bed, on the walls hang more extravagant paintings. Gold is everywhere, the frames of paintings, the candleholders, even the bed frame and the sheets, gold covers everything. I crouch in a corner, blanketing myself in gloom. The man sits on the bed, placing the candle on the table next to him. I wish him sleep, ‘off to sleep old man’. Extinguish the candle and sleep. I wait for seemingly an eternity, until finally the flame is reduced to smoke. I hear the steady breathing of sleep then I move, close, so close. As I approach the man I draw my blade, I have completed tasks such as this many times. This will be my last, I will return to my family and never again raise my weapon to another. I promised her, I promised to be there for her, for my family.
The blade in my hands, slow and steady it prepares itself for the deed. I bring the weapon to his throat with purpose and with a touch of regret, I slice it is swift and silent. The old man lets out one last breath as blood pours from the wound. I am already gone from the room. My escape must be swift.
I run down the stairs as quietly as a spectre, I am a shadow. As I reach the bottom I can see the glow of candlelight. I peer around the corner and spot the source, a guard holding a candle, with a large sword belted at his waist. I back away, this was unexpected. I creep back to the bottom of the staircase. Thinking quickly, I must find a way back to the room. I will kill the man in my way if I must. I move, peering around the corner, the guard has vanished. I move back to the empty room which I entered from. As I enter the room, I notice the window which I had left open, is now closed, strange. I reach to open it, and find it has been locked, panic clutches at my mind.
Sounds begin echoing around the mansion, I can hear movement and voices, someone is yelling. The muffled voice seems to grow clearer, I move to the door and press my ear to it. I can make out one word, a name, my name. Panic has now taken hold. How do they know I am here? I keep listening, the voice sounds familiar, a long forgotten familiarity. I rack my brain. I keep thinking while I begin to pick the lock on the window. Soon the familiar click of the lock echoes from within its depths, I am free. I climb the window sill and prepare for the leap to the nearby rooftop. A loud snap bellows from behind me, a figure barges through the door. I glance behind to see the face of the voice, I leap. The air from my lungs leaves me, I hit the rooftop violently. The face burned into my eyes, my brother’s face.
I run off allowing my ally to shield me. Bewilderment and confusion torment my mind as I make my escape. Why? How? My brother died years ago, after we had worked together, I had not heard from him. I did not hear of him until his death.
What does this mean?
The wind whistles through the broken window. Shadows move as if ghosts through the room. Old dusty floorboards creak as the old building shifts. A pair of children cower in the corner behind the cot they share. Father leans against the wall next to the open doorway, readying himself. Whispers can be heard, floorboards are pushed to their limit as weighty spectres move across the room. Father prepares himself, he will protect them. He will do what he must.
This was the world now.
They keep moving, searching for something. One moves down the hall, toward the children’s room. Father says a silent prayer, hefts the heavy weapon in his hands. He glances at the kids, they’re scared eyes looking for reassurance in his. The moonlight shows a long shadow on the floor, moving closer. It stops to check another room. The building breathes again replaced by an unsettling silence. The shadow moves closer still. The children holding each other’s mouths to keep from making a sound.
The figure reaches the threshold, pausing. It’s back is turned. Father leans closer, feet spread, his muscles tense, sweat drips from his forehead. The figure moves, it turns and takes a step into the room. Realization sweeps across the stranger’s face, children are here. Suddenly a mighty crack erupts throughout the house and the figure slumps heavily to the floor. Father hefts the weapon again, peering around the doorway. The ghosts whisper loudly, arguing.
Father moves out of the room, motioning to the children to stay and hide. He creeps as quietly as he can, his boots making only the slightest sound. The whispers grow louder. They are in the kitchen he realizes. He reaches the doorway, listening intently. He can only make out two voices. The door’s hinges lay bearen, the task of holding the door long forgotten. He moves his head slowly until he can see into the shadowy room. The figures are animatedly arguing, blackened silhouettes against the moonlight. He tries to size them up, telling himself to stay come and be deliberate. This is no time for half measures.
He turns the corner letting out a mighty bellow. The figures jump in terror. Father picks up an old chair sitting next to the doorway, throwing it with one hand as hard as he can at the larger figure. Then charges the second raising his sledge above his head. He brings it down, but misses the head and the blow lands on the shoulder, emitting a sickening crack. The figure crumples holding it’s shoulder. Father turns, the other recovering from the chair. It is over in a second, Father jabs the face and brings the butt of the sledge down and across the head, the figure crashes to the floor unconscious.
The second figure, still holding it’s shoulder brings up a hand, asking for mercy. Father spits on the plea, asking “Why do you deserve to live?” He hefts the heavy sledge preparing himself once more. The figure pleas “I’m like you, I just want to protect my family.” He looks more closely, realizing the figure is shapely, feminine. He pulls the face up to see her eyes. Tears run down her cheeks, reflected brightly in the moonlight.
“I’m pregnant” she whispers. “Please don’t kill me.”
Long distance is awful.
I had to go away for a few months of contract work and unfortunately my girlfriend was unable to join me. I am stuck in a city where I have basically no friends. I go to work and then I come home play some games or watch some tv and then go to bed. That is my life right now (apart from the writing). At the beginning it didn’t seem so bad, the days went by fairly quickly and it seemed totally manageable. Things changed.
Now I can’t stop thinking about her, every minute of every day I am haunted by her. It’s basically torture.
We have not seen each other or felt each other in just over three weeks.
It will be at least another two weeks before we get a weekend together.
I hate this, I hate being so far away with no one, not even a friend to distract me. All the people in the office I am at are at least 20 years older and they are nice but it’s not like I would go hang out with them anyways. I feel so constricted.
The only positive so far is that my creative side has had a bit of a revival. I write all the time, and drawing is starting to come back. (inspiration lately has been lacking).
We talk fairly often but not enough, never enough. Texting and chatting on the phone can only do so much. What’s worse is that we can’t Skype because she doesn’t have adequate internet where she is. It’s no ones fault but it sucks.
We spent the whole summer together.
The two of us spent the entire summer looking for work, basically wherever we could find it. Unfortunately this has led to a problem. Now we have jobs in different cities, and they are far from each other.
The summer was amazing. We decided to live together for the first time, and since neither of us was working we spent most days together just hanging out. Many naked days. It was impressive how little we fought considering how much time we spent in the same space.
Everyday we would wake up and then go into the room where my Xbox was and we would spend most of the day there, watching movies, playing games just hanging out. There were a few times when I found myself thinking “I need a bit of space, just a day or two” but those were rare and even then I didn’t really need it.
Now I wish so badly to go back to that time. When she was always in arms reach. When I could kiss her whenever I wanted.
Hopefully in a few months we can go back to something like that. Only where we both have jobs in the same city.
How Can I Go On
I’m waiting, wishing,
Sitting in a room of memories,
Seconds slowly pass, time`s pace is cruel.
My mind wanders
Thoughts of her haunting me once again
The ghosts of memory,
I don’t want these feelings
These thoughts anymore.
My mind tormented constantly.
Why can I not escape?
She has gone,
My mind will not yield
Refusing to let go.
I am baffled yet elated
Yet she takes no notice of me,
Am I… a shadow?
A spectre of memory?
She was my forever.
This was the last piece in the Our Life series. I hope you enjoyed them. Here is the full collection in one place. Please feel free to leave a comment if the mood strikes!
Gone, Where I Cannot Follow
A four letter word, can I say it?
It haunts me,
She is always on my mind.
Without I feel empty
Reduced to a phantom,
She gives me heart
A soul, meaning.
I want to tell her with every fibre of me.
Life left to never return
Never again will she hear
The four letter word.