(Untitled Short)

(Untitled Short)

A Story by Ookpik
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KodNFsP6r88&fbclid=IwAR0Ahs6YhGd3V7jh3NFQGUo6eiyEAPU97z5KgAsIl_hz4bSs9ckaEFrK71o

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This was a dark place - a lightless place.

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It was the kind of place so black, that light, were it to exist, would be swallowed by the depth - absorbed into the manifold of colorlessness and reconstituted into the abyss. It was a place of no thing - no substance or shape, no texture and no reminiscent echo that might otherwise proceed the presence of sound.


It was a vacuous place - a place where no life could be.


Where daylight and its coinciding photosynthesis, where cellular organisms, plants and predators, were made myth by the absence of all things; and forced back into the forgotten library of thought by the overbearing presence and suffocating proximity, of nothing and its intimate nothingness.


It was a place that shouldn’t be - a place inconceivable in its nature and resting in defiance against the impossibility of its existence.


And yet…


Jason somehow found himself walking in it.


Treading along some invisible stair or padding barefoot against some imperceptible causeway.


It was too dark for Jason to see himself - too dark to maintain awareness over the individual footsteps, let alone their toehold on a ground that, in almost all respects, had forgotten to adhere to the law of gravity. He couldn’t tell if he was walking backward or forward, if he was climbing or falling; and, as if to add to the suspension, he couldn’t hear the breath swimming cyclically from in and out of his own lungs. He couldn’t feel his heartbeat behind his ribs, no pulse beside his throat and no pump of life flowing throughout veined tunnels and arteries.


He couldn’t even feel his own skin - not the familiarity of cold against the swelling of hair follicles and no comfort of eyelids as they swept shut against his corneas.


Jason, despite the absence of all the things that he had been so long accustomed, felt oddly at peace. He felt strangely content, and the patiently, calculated footfalls that he extended before him, seemed to substantiate his serenity.


In a place where nothing exists, Jason heard himself wonder, being afraid must be as useless as a body.


And he was exactly right.


Despite what would have otherwise been the terrifying nature of this place, the deconstructed horror of being nothing at all was as foreign here as Jason was himself; and despite the intangibility of his being, Jason felt intuitively aware of that fact.


Because nothing existed here, it was not the kind of place where fear belonged.


It was not the place for horror - not the place for joy, or sorrow or pride; and it was definitely not the kind of place to stop moving.


For Jason felt instinctively, that if he were to stop walking, cease with the momentum of his motion, that somehow it would be indicative of something highly uncomfortable.


It wasn’t that he was afraid to stop, as again, fear couldn’t exist here; it was as if he understood that to do so somehow went against the grain - like a backwards shave or a papercut - and that stopping would be as obstinate as consciously placing one’s hand on a heated stove element.


Again, Jason’s instincts were exactly right.


Before long, and seemingly from out of nowhere, he heard something else that appeared to be completely out of place.


It was the sound of rubber tires rolling against icy pavement; and in the distance, despite the absoluteness that they shouldn’t exist and despite the absolution of them inherently doing so anyway, was the distant wane of approaching headlights.


It was so dark that they appeared to be orange - as if that, upon approach, they were fighting to remain innocuous within the siphoning pressure of the black.


As they approached, Jason was able to catch sight of his silhouette and saw that what lay beneath him was the appearance of a deep and supple lake. He saw that his toes enacted slight ripples upon its surface and that they were able, if not barely so, to catch some of the reflection from the oncoming vehicle.


As he noticed this, he heard the obnoxious tire screech of a car braking too quickly over a surface that rarely facilitated the act.


Jason looked up and saw the illuminate interior of what looked like a standard, city bus - with rails and hand straps, graffiti and bad advertisements. He saw immediately, that there was no one driving, and as the doors swung open with the motion of a self articulated lever, he saw also, that there was only one other passenger.


Hesitantly, he stepped aboard - feeling again, that doing so was precisely the kind of thing he was meant to.


He walked slowly, noticing within the almost abrasive light that he was both without shoes and completely naked. For a moment, he felt the impulse to be embarrassed, but it quickly subsided as he stepped across the yellow line.


He sat across from the other passenger, who glanced up as he did so and met with Jason’s eyes.


He was very old. And Jason noticed that he was also bare, save for a heavy, woolen blanket that had been draped around his frame. The skin at his cheeks and beneath his eyes hung loosely and there were subtle blue veins weaving beneath widened pores and liver spots.


He smiled slightly as Jason sat down and motioned with a near skeletal finger beneath the seat.


Jason looked and found an identical blanket - thick and gray, with the fibrous abrasion that markedly defined wool blankets.


Jason wrapped himself and settled into place, glancing through smudged and beaten windows at the vastness of the black. As the bus started again, he felt his weight shift and saw the old man across from him do the same.


He was older than old.


He seemed so ancient, that at any moment his bones might collapse against the sheer weight of loose flesh that clung so desperately to his musculature.


For a long time, they simply sat there - looking at each other, with the old man occasionally smiling at a private thought and returning his gaze to the darkness.


Finally, Jason spoke.


“Do you know where we’re going?” He asked quietly.


The old man turned again to look at him and Jason saw that beneath the clouds of cataracts, his eyes may have once been a very bright shade of blue.


“I don’t really,” he rasped gently, giving the impression of that particular kindness that grows over very long periods within the human soul.


“But if I did, I would tell you.”


Jason felt that he liked this man; he appreciated the authenticity of his voice and thought that he could trust him through it.


“How long have you been here?” Jason followed.


“Oh, a very long time I think.” His dimples moved as he spoke and Jason felt a deep compassion at the answer.


“I’ve been waiting for my wife.” He adjusted his blanket and exposed the soft sallow of his chest beneath it. “But I haven’t a watch to know for how long.”


Jason didn’t know what to say - so he didn’t, and they waited together while their weight tipped against the elongated turns of the bus.


“Are we dead?” Jason asked eventually.


“I believe so,” came the answer, “but I can’t remember how.”


Jason couldn’t either. In fact, he felt he couldn’t remember anything from before, save for what people called him.


“But you remember your wife?”


“Yes,” he answered softly, “I don’t think I could ever forget her.”


“What was her name?” Jason asked, touched by the sentiment.


“Justine,” he said. “My wife’s name is Justine.” He had a look of incredible longing on his face, but there was also a sense of anticipation that gave solidity to his otherwise delicate features.


“How long were you married?” 


He chuckled, “oh, about as long as I’ve been on this bus, I think.”


Jason laughed as well, “a long time then?”


The Man winked and smiled widely, “yes, a long time.”


Jason wasn’t sure how much had passed while they sat like that together, but he felt that to ask something else might ruin the mystique; so instead, he waited with him and let the bus run its course.


Finally, and after a length that Jason couldn’t determine, the bus stopped again.


Anticipating another entrant, Jason looked outside and was met with more blackness.


He looked at the Old Man, sitting patient and expressionless, and then glanced back into the nothingness of the dark.


When the doors opened, a flooding light so profound that it seemed the exact antithesis to what lay outside, poured from beyond the bus.


It felt like a sudden fog and was so bright that it was almost blinding.


“I think that’s you,” said the Old Man.


Jason felt off put, “aren’t you coming?” 


“No, I don’t think I am,” was his answer - soft like his countenance and gentle in its delivery.


“I think I’ll wait here a while longer.”


With that, Jason extended his hand, exchanged shakes with the Man in his scratchy blanket, and let his own fall around his feet.


He walked carefully towards the door, with his hand outstretched - covering his eyes from the radiance. He wasn’t sure what to expect, he wasn’t sure why the light was even there, but he felt again, as if it belonged there, and that he, somehow, was meant to walk into it.


As he stepped into the light, he was finally able to feel his heartbeat; he felt his skin prickle as if newly sunburnt and he gasped abruptly, such as those suddenly hit by cold water.


He then heard, almost at random, the distant call of a newborn baby -


Crying, as they do, when woken as though for the very first time.




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© 2020 Ookpik


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Added on November 24, 2019
Last Updated on January 31, 2020

Author

Ookpik
Ookpik

Vancouver Island, British Columbia , Canada



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