Take it all in

Take it all in

A Story by Nadia Vincent

What happens sometimes when you walk into darkness.


She took another drag on her cigarette, bringing the little flame back to life; the smoke surrounded her in a protective and tight embrace, as she lazily looked at the world. All in all it was an unusual sight. A young woman sat on a slab of concrete, completely on her own. It was night and the darkness enveloped everything but the lights of the speeding cars and a few sparse street lamps scattered around her, some distance behind her grew out a housing estate filled with modern tall buildings, small lights dotted here and there, not forming any recognisable patterns. At the edge of the light coming from one of the street lamps sat the girl.
She sat on an island of isolation, looking out into a pulsating, vibrating world. All of the sights and sounds made the inside of her skull shudder with pleasure and discomfort at the same time, she felt life growing all around her but at this very moment she wasn’t a part of it.

It was amazing. Hundreds of people were almost flying, always out of her reach, in different directions but never towards her, something the road didn’t permit. Take away the metal shells of the cars they sat in and not even their feet or any other part of their bodies touched the ground, yet they were moving with a great speed. Hundreds more were floating behind her in numerous buildings. If all unnatural materials were to disappear those people would all crush to their deaths, and yet materials that didn’t come directly from the earth were keeping them far from the ground and alive. She was practically surrounded by people, but here she sat alone, not even sure if she was visible in the darkness. So far no one in the passing cars spotted her and no one at all went through this way, so far out of everyone’s way this way was.


A sound of footsteps filled the night, she heard someone approaching before they were visible. She felt no fear or relief as she saw a man step out of the darkness. He was more surprised to see someone sitting ahead of him than she was at seeing him emerge from the darkness. He halted in mid step, not sure whether he should proceed or walk backwards. Something about how the woman sat, reminding him of the Caterpillar, perched on a raised dais inside of a smoke filled bubble, her legs curled under her; a long cigarette was apparently attached to her fingers. Something about this image made him want to disregard the idea of walking back to where he came from, for now anyway.  


“Are you okay?” He asked after finally finding his voice.


She nodded, releasing a puff of smoke.


“You aren’t lost, are you?”

She shook her head no.

“Oh, are you waiting for someone?”


She shrugged, holding the cigarette away from her face. “Maybe. Not totally sure, yet.”


The sensible thing to do was to walk away, what if she was high on drugs, unstable or dangerous? She could be all sorts of trouble, sitting here like this at this hour. But he felt no threat coming from her, no danger, he somehow felt comforted by this… unusual sight. Yes, unusual, the woman sitting in front of him was unusual. He smiled at this description of her. He really always could come up with the most creative descriptions of people. Did this show his inability to be witty and think on his feet, or maybe he was always straight to the point with his observations which didn’t need to be witty or sharp, just correct. Sure, they could be worded nicer, cooler but that wasn’t the point.


“It’s the wrath of indifference.”

“Sorry?” He was so lost in his strange line of thought that he almost missed her words, he stepped closer.


“So many people in the world are suffering, not everyone has somebody who cares about their suffering, someone to wish them best. So much pain goes by unacknowledged, never dealt with. Even the most sensitive person can’t care about everyone.” She shook her head, and shuddered, like a wet cat that run under a wet bush. “Sorry, it’s this night, getting to me.”


“Is there something wrong with this night?” He looked around, trying to spot something at the edge of the electric light and the darkness beyond.


“Look at it, it’s so withdrawn, hardly a soul is out.” She too peered into the darkness and then at the houses dotted with the tiny lights. From light to darkness, to light again.


“Well, we are far away from anywhere really.” He smiled, trying to lighten the mood. “There are things around us but you have to come here to get here you know.”


“True.” She exhaled another puff of smoke.


“Can I wait with you?”


“Why would you wait with me if I don’t know who or what I’m waiting for if I’m waiting for anything at all?”


“Because of questions like that.” He thought he saw a hint of a smile appear on her lips, and grinned shyly in response to her almost smile.


She shrugged and moved over a bit, freeing up some space for him on the concrete block. He sat next to her, not feeling uncomfortable at sitting so close next to someone he didn’t know. Behind her ear he spotted another cigarette, funny how he didn’t see it earlier.


The flood of cars on the road ahead of them was thinning. It was that perfect time of the night to be sitting at home, with a hot cup of tea in one hand and a remote control in another, but clearly not everyone agreed. People always had to go somewhere, be on the move, this was the problem with humans they never sat still and in the end got killed.


“I wonder where they are going at this hour, what tasks they have ahead of them, what adventures, if any.” She tracked a speeding car from where it appeared on the right until it disappeared from view. “The wheel keeps on spinning and life just goes on.”


“And when that wheel stops spinning, does everything else stop as well?”


“Probably not everything. Other worlds will keep revolving when ours stops.”


“At least some things never change.” He nodded, slightly smiling, believing that despite everything bad in the world, something good remained and persevered. Love and friendships blossomed everyday. It was something to hang on to. “A new spark of life awakens when another one fades.”


 They sat in silence for a while and he continued watching the darkness surrounding them, expecting to see something ominous come out to smite them. Many things could have been said, some important and others less so but the sound of the street lamps humming was at the moment enough distraction for them. The hour was nearing midnight and with every passing second he felt more and more wrong, something was happening inside of him. Heat blossomed inside of his head and upper chest like an early blooming flower; it spread to the bottom of his toes and the tips of his hair. When the bells rung midnight tears began streaming down his face and there was no stopping them. She turned to regard him, her grey eyes searching his face.


“How? Why did you come here? Do you remember?” Her questions sounded urgent, he tried his best to think of an answer but none came.


“I just, I just walked.” He whispered every word, sound a fight.


“Did something unusual happen to you today? Something not quite normal?” She pressed on; he was only able to mouth the word no.


“Why?” Her voice trembled. “Why are you crying?”


“There is so much suffering…everywhere.” He lowered his head, not even having enough energy to wipe away his flowing tears; they fell to the ground, to be smeared in earth.


He has never felt this way before, he was overwhelmed by a million of emotions, and all of them covered in pain and in suffering, none of them his. He was battered by so much anguish, physical and emotional, all of it rushed towards his being with intensity of great waves, waves that have destroyed empires, took the very islands they were build on to the bottom of oceans. Every part of him was assaulted; his mind was being torn apart, quickly and painfully every piece of his substance was shredded, if this was to continue for much longer he would lose himself, and then only the pain would be left. How could this world continue to exist when it was filled with undying pain to the very brink? It was not just an emotional torment; he began to fold onto himself and would have fallen if she hadn’t jumped off the concrete block with one swift motion to hold him up on time. She hovered protectively over him as his insides were being ripped apart while it was getting harder and harder to breath.


“Listen to me, I can help you…you just have to trust me and I will take care of you I promise.” She wanted to reach out to him, make him look at her, but this was something she couldn’t do, this was something he had to do on his own. All she could do was to hold him up, so he wouldn’t fall. He had to meet her eye on his one, decide that he needed help without any more of her words.


He looked up at her, still crying and nodded. “I believe you.” The words were almost whispered and disturbed by sobs, but they were said now


Only after hearing those words she was able act any further, she dragged him to his feet and then the car, thankful for not parking it too far and that she a car to drag him to. She tried to shove him into the back seat without causing any more discomfort, but her movements probably seemed unmerciful to anyone on looking. With speed of lightening she got into the car and got it started, but halted for the moment to stare into the darkness beyond, not even trying to sort her thoughts, and then for the first time in her life she sped, sped through empty roads.


Bright lights flashed past her, all attempting to get her attention, so come the morning she would come back to take another look at the shop windows, it was so enticing but she ignored it all. Instead she used the bright lights for her own purposes, to keep herself focused on driving straight ahead and not into any buildings, lamp posts or any other damaging objects.


His moans and near screams born of pain was the only way she knew he was still alive, him staying in this breathing state was her responsibility, but first before she could do anymore she had to get him to safety. Keep breathing, damn you. Where for a while what was assaulting him would leave him alone. A passing car almost blinded her with its overwhelming head lights, after driving with stars shining in her vision she saw familiar signs of her neighbourhood. They were so close now, she could almost smell the incense burning in her flat, and so she sped even more, vaguely hoping that no CCTV cameras caught her. With enough on her plate already, a speeding ticket might just push her over the edge.


When outside of her building she almost drove into the bushes and a few parked cars, if something had to be destroyed then why not more of it? Adrenaline was pumping quickly through her veins making it hard to do anything in more measured steps and carefully. Now all she had to do was drag the half unconscious strange man up to her forth floor flat past the nosey neighbours, let it be easier done than said. At the landing of the second floor she realised how tall he was.


A few more steps, and a few long heartbeats later a key was thrust into a lock, a door opened into a dark room, the low light from the hallway did little to pierce that darkness. Finally home, finally somewhere safe, with no mad men driving on the streets and away from the bright lights. She pushed him through the open doorway, without letting him go she pushed the door closed, it closed more loudly than she would have liked, and walked him over to the couch. He almost fell onto the soft cushions, her hold on him released and he felt it was safe to finally let go and fall. She continued to breathe hard, her eyes glowing brightly; she tried to calm down but her body shuddered with the shock of what has happened, despite her wobbly limbs she made a move towards the kitchen but suddenly halted her steps. Looking down at the couch she saw that he was still wearing shoes and his feet were positioned where her face was whenever she had a nap, she cringed realising how inappropriate it all was, she had to help him and not be bothered that he was wearing shoes that he couldn’t even take off himself, he probably didn’t even remember what shoes were. She quickly tugged the shoes off him and put them by the door, absentmindedly she kicked the shoes off her feet too before hurrying into the kitchen.


Pain was stealing away the last pieces of his consciousness, he was awake but no longer aware of where he was or what was happening to him, his mind was numbed by suffering. He was losing a battle he did not even begin, and he didn’t know why it began, despite all of the pain he understood that he was quickly slipping under. He was faced with his own end, the end of the world itself where he was concerned and there was nothing he could do about it. A few people in the building were crying their tears were sharp stabs into his already weeping heart; there was nothing he could do for them either.
He was floating away when he felt her touch on his sweaty brow; she was probing to see whether he still lived.


“Here drink this.” Her voice sounded so far away, almost incomprehensible, he felt her prying open his lips and hot liquid burning his throat. The smouldering liquid went deeper into him than the pain and suffering he felt, with this fire going through him everything else faded away. He coughed and suddenly all of the horrible pain was gone.


“That was disgusting.” He sat up slowly, holding on the couch for balance and blinked, testing his eye sight.


“Gee, thanks.” She looked into the cup, upset by his remark.


“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean for it to sound so bad, it had a very remarkable taste, that I’m likely never to forget. What was it?”


“Tea.” She raised her eyebrow, awaiting his reply.


“Tea?” He cringed, now knowing that there was a reason why he preferred coffee. “It brought me back, didn’t it?”


“Yes, it’s sort of special like that, despite its remarkable taste.”


“What happened to me?” He rubbed at his face, disbelieving that he was still breathing. “I mean, I didn’t imagine it?”


“It really happened.” She sighed, arranging her thoughts and sat down on a coffee table in front of him. “Many, many years ago lived a man who after seeing people suffer for most of his life realised that all of their suffering was going by unnoticed, their pain was only felt by their world itself who was crumbling under the pressure. So he decided to do something to shoulder some of that pain. He searched and found the most compassionate people, and taught them how to use that compassion for the best. He taught them how to take some of that pain in and deal with it, making it easier for the people and the world to cope with it all, to survive.” She looked deep into his eyes. “Many years ago the last of their kind…disappeared, the need for people like with those special gifts hasn’t decreased but they were no longer born until you. And I’ve waited for you for such a long time.” She smiled weakly, so tired, her shuddering was finally ceasing. “I will be your shield and guardian as much as I can.”


He sat there stunned, his mouth agape, this was hard to believe, no impossible to believe but what he has felt tonight suggested that her words rung true. He shut his mouth, and tried to speak but no words came out, he opened it again. “How do I do that?”


She shrugged her small shoulders. “I do not know. There hasn’t been one of your kind for such a long time, and all documentation of your predecessors has been long lost, only you will know how to do it, that knowledge is inside of you.” She paused to place the cup she was still holding in her hand on the coffee table. “You do however have a choice; you can walk away from it all. I can give you something that will stop this forever, and you will wake up in the morning in your bed, thinking this was a bad dream. Everything is up to you, you do only have twenty four hours though, once the initial contact has been made and not stopped there will be no going back.”


Silence, he said nothing, he made no movements. She expected for him to rage at the unfairness of the world at having placed this decision into his lap, she expected him to cry or laugh in madness. This was the moment she waited for a long time, and she was going to give him all of the time he needed in the world, out of the time they had, to speak, to come to terms with what was happening.


“What’s your name?” He finally asked.


She blinked, not expecting this question. “Aimada.”


Of course she had to have an unusual name as well, fitting for everything that has happened. “I’m Laurence.”


First introductions made they stared at each other, they have already been through so much together, Laurence found himself near death and she brought him back, she has been waiting for him, for a long time. He repeated her words under his breath; she was waiting for him, for someone like him for a long time. And simply knowing each other names brought them even closer.


“You should get some rest.” Aimada suggested, her words sounded like soft strokes that reminded him of sleep.


Second part.

© 2010 Nadia Vincent

Author's Note

Nadia Vincent
Does it develop at a good pace, and is the sense of urgency being portrayed well? Would you be interested in reading more if it was to continue?

My Review

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pleasure and discomfort at the same time is a paradox...and yes...humans are funny that way...can't keep still...invariably killed...by life or by death...a mystery unravels...a man who feels the intense pain of the world...a woman prepared to help ease that pain...i once was walking past a Casino...just near a taxi rank...an Asian man was running fast and repeatedly head first into the wall of the Casino...he was not drunk...i surmised that he was a high roller...he kept repeating a chant that the had lost everything...he smashed his hands upon his forehead...i went to intercede...to restrain his agony on some way but Casino security brushed me aside and herded into a waiting cab...i walked a short distance...thinking of his pain...and for some reason, ifell to my knees in tears...two policeman came and asked me what was wrong and were surprised by what i told them...one young constable said that it was the first time that he had ever seen someone so traumatised by the pain of another...they helped me to my and told me to move along...this story reminded me of that incident...yes...keep writing...it's a good...true story...your writes have a depth that i have formerly described...this requires a few tweaks but overall i am most impressed by this write :)

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 9 Years Ago

Good development, the first paragraph reminded me of myself (although not a female lol) and the second paragraph was amazing how you made a reference of Alice in Wonderland, Caterpillar in smoke. Overall great story, it hooked me in right from the first sentence and kept its uniqueness through out the whole story. Keep up the good work.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 9 Years Ago

Yes, this Alysa was the story that has been burrowing into my mind for the last two weeks now, it's a relief to have finally finished it. I'm not sure if I'll be able to make an actual novel out of this but a long story, with a few entries maybe.
Thank you for the great and positive review, and for looking out for all of those annoying errors heh that is why finishing a story at 2am and not editing it is not a good idea, I keep telling myself to read something before I post something but I never do! I've re read this piece, and made a few corrections but it would be great if you could have another look and let me know if something else needed to changed a bit.
It is a great feeling to have fought with the writer's block and to win this battle, lets see who wins the war! I do believe I will continue this, just not very sure how yet.
Thanks again!

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 9 Years Ago

Hi Nadia, So this is the piece you've been working on all week? It's funny what you say at the end, "To be continued, maybe," and then your Author's Note, because as I was reading it, especially when I realized what had really happened to this man, I kept thinking, "This is the beginning of a novel!" I really hope you'll continue it. As for your other questions, I think the pacing is excellent, and the contrast between the calm, pensive waiting at the beginning, then the overwhelming feelings of suffereing as they hit Laurence, the drive to the apartment, etc, all have a great sense of movement and urgency. This piece isn't short, and I wasn't bored for one second. Great job! I would say on the mechanical level, there are some small grammar errors (has vs had), etc, and it's easy to see you were caught up in the inspiration, because at times there are words typed that should be other words (for example, near the beginning, "finders" instead of "fingers"). If you need me to point out other ones, just let me know - but I think if you let this piece cool for a day or two, you'll probably be able to spot them yourself. One thing that you should probably fix right away, though, because it's very confusing, is this paragraph (my edits in caps): Looking down at the couch she saw that he was still wearing shoes and his feet were poisoned [POSITIONED] where her face was whenever she had a nap on her the couch. She quickly tugged the shoes off him and put him [THEM] by the door before hurrying into the kitchen." There are some other things here that you might want to clean up, like the repitition of "couch", but I think the two words I marked here definitely need to be changed asap, because they affect the meaning of the action. At any rate, this was a wonderful piece, beautifully written and exciting - I really do hope you'll continue it! And congratulations on getting over your writers block!

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 9 Years Ago

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4 Reviews
Added on August 22, 2010
Last Updated on November 21, 2010
Tags: Fantasy, Surreal, Short Story
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Nadia Vincent
Nadia Vincent

London, United Kingdom

I have been known to pass my time attempting to scribble words in hopes of putting half decent sentences together and attempting to capture my world through the lens of a camera. more..


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