Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta people. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta people. Mostrar todas las entradas

miércoles, 14 de marzo de 2018

La Vérriere

  The sound of a piano being played could be heard on the staircase that led to the each one of the seven floors that made up the building. In each floor, there were two doors: one for each apartment. Nevertheless, not all of the apartments in the Vérriere building were used as homes. Some of them were offices and others, like 7B in the upper most floor, had been in use for thirty years as a teaching hall of music. Some days you could hear a piano, some others a violin or even a flute.

 Below 7B lived an elderly couple, Ava and Michael. They had been living in Paris for almost seventy years, from the day they had visited as a recently married couple and had fallen in love almost instantly with the city. They loved the architecture and the vibrant artistic movements that you could see and feel all around. And the food, of course, was one of the big reasons for them to stay, as Michael had always wanted to become a professional pastry chef, and Paris was the perfect city to achieve that.

 They decided to move into the Vérriere less than a month after their marriage and announced their decision to family members and friends back home in England with a postcard of the city seen from the Eiffel Tower. Of course, everyone was surprised by their sudden decision. Yes, maybe Michael had always wanted to be a chef and he loved everything that had to do with pastries and bread, but they no one really thought he would follow the dream. And Ava… she was much too young.

 When they moved, Ava was seventeen years old and Michael was nineteen. They started working right away, Michael in a bakery and Ava in a bank. They didn’t ask for experience back then, just the language, which they had to learn bit by bit at nights. It was a hard life for a long time but they eventually moved up in their respective fields. Michael got enough money to enter school and become the chef he always wanted to be and Ava was able to be the accountant of a very prestigious chain of stores.

 Now, Ava and Michael are in their early eighties. They are still in love with each other and they rarely leave their apartment, for which they paid rent for many years but they were eventually able to buy it, as the owner had became a great friend of the both of them. They had two children; now living in the country they had both came from. Somehow, the love the couple had for the city had not being transmitted to their children. They rarely visited, the only foreign sound in the apartment coming from the music lessons above, which were an entertainment for them, more than a nuisance.

 In the middle of the building, in 4A, lived a young man that had recently moved from an eastern European country. It was almost a year ago that he had entered the building, only to check it out with a friend. But they hadn’t been looking for an apartment to live in. His friend ran a production company that produced pornographic content on the Internet and he was looking for a place that looked old and could be used to set various types of productions, somewhere versatile they could use.

 Both of them loved it but Karl, the boy with a thick accent, was truly enthralled with everything about the location. He liked every single little details like the door handles and the sink appliances, but he also loved the views from the windows and the fact that there were very well lit rooms and other one that seemed flooded with darkness. The high ceiling and beautiful wallpaper sold the deal for him. His friend, however, thought the place was a little pricey and that’s when Karl proposed a deal to him.

 Karl would give money to his friend, in order to cover the price of rent, but with the condition he would be able to live there, use it as his home. His friend was doubtful because he knew it could get annoying if someone lived there and a filming crew would suddenly need one of the rooms for a movie. But Karl assured him he was very used to the whole filming scene, being an actor himself, so he assured nothing would go wrong and no problems would show their ugly heads.

 Actually, he said that not being sure of anything, only knowing he just wanted to live there. But he eventually realized he had been correct: the place was not only perfect to live as it was huge and conveniently located, but it proved to be a great setting for lots of movies. Karl even participated in some of them. The incredible surprise was that the building was so sturdy, that people were not able to hear anything on the other floors. And the fact that there were offices around was even better for them.

 Eventually, Karl met a nice young man like himself during another location scouting. They talked and dated for several months until he asked him to move in with him. Karl’s friend eventually found other locations and he eventually stopped using the apartment in the Vérriere building for his films. The place turned into the home of Karl and his boyfriend, who would eventually become his husband. They made great friends in the building, including the elderly couple made by Ava and Michael but also the dozens of cats that Mrs. Laffite had taken in.

 She lived in the only apartment located on the ground floor. She was the person in charge of getting the building clean, on the outside and the inside. Mrs. Laffite was also the only person to have an actual garden in the building, complete with a small bench to sit down and several plants that made her home look like something of an anomaly for such a huge city. Nevertheless, she wasn’t the most sociable person ever, so most people didn’t even know about her beautiful apartment.

 Sometimes called Lala by other people living there, she had surrounded herself with dozens of cats. It was common to see her entering the building holding one or two cats on her hands, just as if she had came into the building with two bags of groceries or something. She always brought in new kitties, mostly strays that she found around the marketplace and other corners of the city she liked to walk around. Granted, she never went to far from the building and never spent more than two hours outside.

 The rest of the day was spent inside her house and sometimes standing in the frame of her door telling the cleaning lady how to do her job. There was always a different woman or man cleaning the place, as she grew impatient with them very fast. She never liked how they clean, how not thorough they were. She trembled when thinking about their homes, and how dust and dirt would be slowly accumulating in corners and under the furniture. Lala was a big germophobe, odd for such a cat lover.

 When someone talked to her, saying “Hi” or something, she always responded by nodding. If people started talking more, she continued answering with head movements and other gestures. It wasn’t that she couldn’t talk but she simply didn’t like to interact with people. And those who had been living there for a few months already knew how to handle her situation. And they didn’t mind and she didn’t really mind any of them, she didn’t really care too much to be very honest.

 Her happiest moment was being in her garden, tending to her plants. She would sing to them and that was the only time some of her tenants were able to hear actual words coming out of her mouth. Her voice was beautiful, soothing and simply magnificent.

 La Vérriere was a building filled with so many people from different backgrounds, doing different things and having different thoughts. It was pretty much as any other building in the world. A place where everything and nothing meets at the same time.

miércoles, 10 de enero de 2018

Sitting there

   Sitting there, with so many people worrying about their own business, was kind of soothing to me. It’s an awful thing to say, but I’d rather have that than a place where everyone is clearly waiting to hear what’s up with you. In other contexts, where nothing is really happening, every single ear in the vicinity would hear a bomb like that. There too but no one would really care because they are waiting themselves for some words they hope they might be hearing and other they don’t want to hear at all.

 I woke up very early that day and I have to say it was very strange to just stare at my own feet for several minutes, sitting on the edge of the bed, before I realized I wasn’t really doing anything and I needed to get going. I slowly dragged myself to the bathroom and had a shower, longer than those that I had daily. I wanted to make time feel longer, but when I put on my clothes and grabbed a glass of orange juice in the kitchen, I realized I hadn’t really spent much time and I would be getting early to work.

 It has to be said: I hate my job and the people I talk to in it. I hate my boss and the girl who’s supposed to greet people in the reception. I really hate them all. It’s not just that I don’t like them but I actually hate them, because they always seem to want more information about me than what they tell me about them. They clearly just want to gossip and my boss only wants me as a mule, as a beast to use for work and nothing else. I don’t thank him for this job at all, none of them.

  However, I need the money and no one else would hire me. So I go every single day to work, by bus, standing up and very rarely finding a seat before I reach my stop. That day I walked especially slowly in order to take my time to work. I managed to get there a little later than expected but still at least one hour before I was supposed to begin my work. I didn’t care. I turned on my computer as soon as I got in and started working right then, as I needed to make my lunchtime valuable.

 I was happy when my stomach started growling, towards the middle of the day. It meant I was hungry, of course, but also that I hadn’t been interrupted by anyone all morning. Not a single stupid question or a greeting that had no real intention of being kind. Nothing at all for almost five hours and that was simply the best time I had ever had in that place. I was able to reach some clients, fixing some documents I had to correct and even do a couple of things ahead of time to free my schedule even more. Other would not appreciate that but I didn’t really care.

 The moment people around me started talking louder and stood up to walk towards the elevators, I realized it was my time to run. I went down by foot, through the relative darkness of the stairs and I reached the main gate in a very short time. Luckily, the place I had to go to was nearby, only a couple of blocks away, so my time would be spent in the best way possible. My stomach growled the whole walk towards the clinic, but I ignored it by smiling at the beautiful weather.

 The sun was very high up in the sky and there were a couple of fluffy white clouds there but nothing to prevent the sun from reaching all the people below that wanted that beautiful day to last forever. I was a bit sad to get to the clinic, a place that should’ve been a lot less dark than it was, but I decided to just grab my number and sit down as I waited. The place was not a real hospital or something like that. It was more like a center to get help, something much more informal.

 That was a good thing because I had always hated the smell and the sounds of hospitals. They make my skin crawl. Maybe it’s because every time you’re in a hospital it’s because something wrong is happening with you or someone else. Not even the food is decent in a place like that. So I really don’t like those places. Burt that one was a lot warmer, both physically and in the décor. It wasn’t blue and white but orange and red and green and all sorts of other colors.

 Maybe that’s because people with children tend to go there. I saw at least three very young mothers with their babies, waiting for their turn to speak with a counselor. It has to be said there were not that many doctors there. People were not waiting to have a checkup or something like that. It was more of a social thing in general. I looked at those girls for a long time, and I realized many of them seemed ashamed to be there but they didn’t go anywhere until their names were called.

 I, on the other hand, was there for something between a medical procedure and a psychosocial thing. It’s hard to talk about it but at least I went there. The point of it all is I waited for about twenty minutes until a nurse, a very tall one, called my name and asked me to follow her. She asked me to wait in a very small room. She came back shortly with what she needed. A syringe and a small plastic bag. She asked for my arm and in seconds she extracted a whole syringe of blood from me. The nurse asked me to wait there, as someone would be with me shortly.

 Another woman came in and talked to me about all those things I knew about but I had ignored. She was very nice and kind and even tried to make me asked her questions. Just to be kind, I did ask a couple of things, of which I already knew the answer to. When I stepped out of the clinic, I still had a half an hour to have something to eat. Luckily, there was a fried chicken place in the way to work. I sat there and ate several pieces, with fries and a large soda. I was going to be late but I didn’t care at all.

 I sat on the restaurant’s terrace, where my face could feel the scorching rays of the sun. I didn’t mind at all. I was just so happy eating my chicken, getting all greasy and having such a blast eating and enjoying the sun. It was one of those short moments in life when you actually feel happy, truly happy. I did not feel my happiness then was artificial or the cause of something someone else had done. It was all about me and how good I felt for making a good decision and pairing it up with fried chicken.

 When I got to the office, the boss called me to his office to basically yell at me for being fifteen minutes late. Other people were still talking about the gossip they had heard at lunch, no one was really working, but I was the one being called to the boss’ office in order to be yelled at. I let him do that for a couple of minutes, not really paying attention, just nodding and saying, “yes” every so often. But then, he said something I cannot remember but that phrase somehow struck a chord deep inside me.

 I told him to "fuck off" and then went back to my desk. I did expect to be fired but nothing happened.  Actually, nothing has happened since then, almost two months ago. And now I’m in that waiting room again, waiting for them to tell me if there’s something wrong with me or not. I’m very nervous, of course, but somehow I feel as free as that day eating fried chicken. Because I defended myself once and I did something for me on the same day. I’m kind of proud of those things.

 The nurse calls my name. She’s the same very tall woman. She has such a kind and beautiful smile on her face. It’s so soothing to see someone greeting you like that. She asks me to follow her and we end up in a different room than the one the time before. She asks me to wait for the counselor.

 As I wait, I notice the pictures around the room. They are personal photos and items, collected through the counselor’s lifetime. She really does feel that place, that tiny office, to be her place. I hope I feel that way about a place too, someday. Or something else.

viernes, 15 de diciembre de 2017

Resistance and downfall

   When the dust settled, there was nothing to rally behind of, nothing to support us another day, not a rock or a person. There was nothing. When they blew it up, they destroyed everything we had believed in for so long. It was a strike deep in our hearts, resonating thousand of kilometers in every direction, where many others would also feel that hope had died and darkness had descended upon us to stay. We were in such disbelief, that they took advantage of our pain to come and destroy us.

 Those men and women were not the kind to take prisoners or to torture. They just killed every single person that tried anything against them and they had the best memory to ensure they would never forget how someone had wronged them. And that was what we had done. They had been the predominant power in the universe and we had tried to take them down, we had tried to stop them from making us penetrate into the abyss they wanted everyone to be in and they didn’t like us doing that.

 For a time, before all of this happened, we lived a life of relative peace and quiet. It would be a lie to day we all lived in harmony, because we didn’t. We just didn’t find interesting to disrupt someone else’s existence, unless it threatened our own. Our existence was not an easy one but we tried to make ends meet by using our wit and ability to cope with every single human thing that tried to tie our hands and prevents us from going forward. Maybe that’s how it started.

 At first, they were only a handful of people, but it started to grow exponentially when they made it into the media, into the information channels that every single intelligent creature used. You have to grant it to them: they used that in their best advantage and soon enough they rallied hundreds, then thousand of people in order to do what they wanted. It was one of those things you ignore at first but then they become so overwhelming and obvious, that you cannot just turn your head away.

 They started with fights and then with proper skirmishes. Now, we battle every so often with heavy artillery and our uniforms on, trying to change the tide one-way or the other. It has to be confessed that it doesn’t really seem to be working in anyone’s favor. We seemed to have stalled and it doesn’t seem like any of the sides knows where to look for the next step. However, with the destruction of our most sacred site, things will change in a new way, one that we haven’t yet seen and it’s very scary. Maybe they knew what to do all along and we were just pieces of a game.

 Being a prisoner is bad, of course, but we would prefer that option against the real one, the only one they give us: death. Facing that is not easy for all of us. Some have already decided they want to embrace it but others are too young or too afraid to actually walk into a battlefield and decide to die. So, when we were caught off guard by the destruction of our temple, they killed a big bunch of us but others ran towards the granite hills and hid there, moving through caves, trying to live another day.

 They eventually left, feeling there was no use in finding every single one of us to be killed. It’s obvious they realized that, without food, we wouldn’t be able to survive for long. And even if we did, such a small group of people had no power to overthrow the power hungry machine they had become. They were virtually unstoppable now and every other living being knew what they had to do in order to survive, and no other person could say anything about it, because we all wanted to keep living.

 The caves became our home and, as time passed, we were able to go outside and harvest foods we had never eaten before but we had to learn to enjoy them, for our sake. Many people had learned to grow other foods there and they also found water. In time, we had a small community that seemed to go unnoticed by the rest of existence. For a time, again, we were happy and we thought everything had gone back to what it was. We thought that, maybe, we had been given another chance.

 However, that was not the case. We were awaken one morning by the sounds of heavy artillery and then came the bombs. Our population was still small so two or three bombs easily killed most of our people. Those who weren’t killed, we tried to push them off for a while, in order to let others escape or maybe we thought someone was coming to the rescue, which didn’t make any sense at all. In time, they came through and the rest of our little group was almost completely destroyed.

 The only person that remained was I. Their leader in person came down to meet me and force me to bend the knee and sweat loyalty to him. He knew, very well, that it had been me who had started this whole thing; it had been my fault that so many brave men and women were now dead. It was my fault that our world had sunken into a deep darkness that would never go away. He knew how bad I felt about it all and he had come to make me say it out loud, not only to him but also to every other soldier on his side to hear. Because they had been on my side once.

 I did. I confessed my crimes and tried hard to redeem myself by asking forgiveness. But I didn’t ask him to forgive me; I did not ask that to his soldiers either. I was telling that to my people, to the ones that had been beside me for a long time and now they had paid with their lives. They had entrusted me with their faith and their lives and I hadn’t been able to correspond in any way, I had just grabbed their lives and used them as cards one uses in a cheap and lousy game of chance.

 As I cried, the man that had become the leader of the new world came to me, gave me his hand and carried me into his vessel. Inside, I was put on chains and treated like an animal, even worse. I was done and I wanted death to be forced upon me, but it seemed like he had finally realized that just death is not punishment enough. He wanted me to really need death, he wanted me to beg for it every single day of my life and he would be able to deny me that privilege.

 In time, I became something you cannot call a human anymore. I was much less than that. I was a shadow of everything mankind had ever amounted to. I just sat on my corner, in a dark cell, and thought about every single thing that had ever happened before my very eyes. There were happy moments but mostly fear and dread. I was haunted by the remains of the people I had failed to and the ones I had lead to their deaths. They blamed me and I could never disagree with them.

 I became increasingly weak and feeble, even to the point my mind started to go a little bit. The leader would come sometimes and watch me, ask me questions or just stare, as a disgusted costumer looks at a circus freak. He knew I wanted death and he would still deny it. There was something inside of him, something that remained from the past and seemed to be buried deep within him, some kind of grudge or maybe it was something completely different. I never really knew.

 Our vessel was destroyed one day, by armies that had been hiding and resisting the darkness that had befallen on the world. They had rallied, in silence, and their moment to attack had come in the exact moment I had been finally granted my death.

 I died anyway, but it was a different thing altogether. It was better. After all, it was them that needed to take revenge on me, after I had almost destroyed everything that they had tried to build. I had been the killer of their families and friends. So it was fair, in the end of the day, for them to kill me.

miércoles, 6 de diciembre de 2017

Sound, lights, action.

  There seemed to be no change in the weather. The wind continued to howl all night, not stopping for a moment. Luckily, there was a very large trunk filled with various blankets and pillows that helped pass the night without freezing on the spot. Being give people inside a tiny cabin was not something very comfortable but it was the only place they had found to spend some time away from the horrible storm outside. They didn’t say a word all night, trying to preserve their energy.

 The next day, the storm was still on full swing but they just couldn’t stay there the whole weekend. They had to leave right then in order to get home as soon as possible. They were there, on the mountain, for only a weekend and they had already wasted a whole day on that cabin in the middle of nowhere. However, some stated that maybe it would have been a better idea to just stay put, because sooner or late the rest of their friends would come for them, or maybe their families or someone that had seen them near the lake.

 The point made sense so they tried to discuss it but it only generated a silly argument related to food and heat, so nothing was really solved. After an entire hour of not deciding anything, Richard who was the oldest, decided he would go out and try to reach the lake. If he failed, he would come back to the cabin. But he thought they had to do something instead of staying there. No one said a word but the other four members of the party left behind him, covering their body as much as they could.

 The storm seemed to get stronger about five minutes after they had put one foot outside. With signs and screams, they decided to tie a rope around everyone, in order no to get lost. Richard was the first one in line and Theresa, the youngest, was the last one. She kept looking back but it was impossible to see anything. It was the middle of the day, they were sure of that, but no sunlight managed to get to the forest floor. The wind and snow made it impossible to open one’s eyes for very long.

 However, they kept on walking. Words couldn’t be heard anymore, even if the person yelled with all their might. So they just kept walking and walking, hoping they would soon get to the lake. After maybe forty minutes of traversing the storm, with legs and arms tired, they finally reached some sort of housing. The lights inside were off. Richard found the door and he soon discovered what Theresa had realized just seconds before going in. That building was the very same cabin they had just came out of, hours earlier. They had been moving in a circle.

 Of course, going back out was not really an option. Not only because it was extremely dangerous weather but also because the same thing would happen again. The snow and the wind would blind them once more into heading back to their departing point. There was no way to go through that again. Besides, their watches clearly stated night had fallen a short while ago and going out in the darkness, on a stormy night, seemed to be even a worse idea than the one they had before.

 They took out the blankets again and covered themselves with them. Mark and Daniel looked for food everywhere but the only thing they were able to find was a stale pack of cookies and some sour milk in a small crate, possibly some kind of refrigerator. Theresa was shaking violently. So much so that Caroline had to check her pulse and blood pressure by hand. She was clearly not well, as her skin had slowly turned blue and her lips seemed to have been covered in a thin layer of blackness.

 Everyone then gathered around Theresa and tried different things they knew, in order to get her blood pressure higher. They covered her with all the blankets and pillows, sat around her on the bed and gave her soft massages in arms and legs. However, the young woman started to shake violently. It was a very scary sight, as she seemed to be behaving in a way they had never seen. She would yell, scream profanities and then shake violently again. It was a very disturbing scene, in such a small cabin.

 She convulses some more and then stopped moving. Caroline checked on her again. Theresa had just died, in front of them all, for causes that were impossible to determine at the time. Caroline tried to explain it by blaming the cold temperatures and lack of food, but no one really paid attention to her. The men thought, without speaking to each other, that what just happened to Theresa had something to do with them going out of the cabin only to come back because of the storm.

 Mark had a few tears on his face when he said they should cover her body well or do something, because human bodies tend to decompose pretty fast. He said he had seen some documentary when it was stated it was best to bury a body as soon as it died for fear of certain diseases. Richard interrupted him, saying it was pretty obvious they couldn’t do that. The freezing temperatures could affect them too if they stayed outside for too long. Everyone looked at Theresa and hoped to be out of that place soon. Something they felt made them uneasy about the whole thing.

 Time passed and soon it was past midnight. The wind didn’t seem to be stopping soon, as it howled like a dying wolf outside the window. Caroline tried to look outside. She would have wanted to see some miraculous sign outside like a light or the face of someone she knew. Maybe rescue workers or even a helicopter. But the night was pitch black and the only source of light came from the lantern that Richard had brought in his bad. No one else had thought of it.

 Some time later, everyone was sleeping. Mark still had traces of tears on his face and Caroline had fallen asleep by the window, maybe the coldest place in the whole cabin. Richard was sleeping by the door, in a weird crouching position that seemed to be very uncomfortable. Daniel was the only one that had properly sat down and covered himself with one of the blankets. After all, Theresa wouldn’t need them anymore. And curiously enough, he was the one to wake up by the sound.

 A very powerful noise coming from the outside. At first, it was as if a gigantic creature was roaring wildly, but by the time Daniel woke up, the sound didn’t seemed to be that natural anymore. It was now something out of some horrible machine, causing an uproar that made the window shake and the body of their deceased companion fall from the bed. Daniel was close to the window when all the glasses broke and they got stuck on his face, making him bleed and scream to his death.

 It was him who woke up the others from their deep sleep. Caroline screamed when she saw Daniel bleeding on the floor. She had been close to the same faith but luckily she had leaned back in her sleep. Richard took her by the hand and raised Mark from the floor. He kicked the door open and started running, with the other two by his side. The forest was not in darkness anymore. It was now bright because of some very powerful lights that seemed to flood everything on sight.

 They ran away from the light as fast as they could but the snow was very difficult to go through. After a while, they grew tired and the lights finally disappeared, leaving in the air a scent that reminded them of their worst fears, of every single thing they hated.

 When they stopped, the light turned on again, more powerful than ever. They didn’t get to know if that was a weapon or some other kind of technology. The last thing they knew was that their fate was sealed and that they had not been in their very own world for a long time.