2- Space Slash Format
May 20th, 2055:
Mozart’s Requiem played in the background while Danielle Mc Madonea sat in a long chair on the terrace to drink a cup of her favourite herbal tea, her back resting against a fluffy cushion, her lightless irises fixated on the content of a holographic screen displayed by a pair of thin half-moon glasses she wore for reading since she had started to lose sight gradually from a cerebrovascular accident several years ago.
Nightfall set ablaze the clouds in a panel of blurred shades at the edge of her eyesight. If only she could turn back time to these days, thought she always when she scrolled backwards her memories library searching in particular for a family portrait in which the three of them were reunited.
- At the very least, perhaps I should have listened to your advice Mathias, she murmured for herself turning off her electronic optics. You’re no longer visiting me from time to time like you did before Isha, is work really keeping you busy all day long? She inquired without turning around to greet her own daughter.
- Back then, you denied me the right to live happily ever after like most women aspire to at a certain period of their lives by your selfish prejudices, forced me into assuming a social role that failed to meet my own expectations in order to achieve in your stead the ideal career you never had, why to take back the life you’ve given me!
- Ungrateful girl, what’s the point in arguing about it over and over as if it will for and ever tear us apart? For all I know, I just attempted to prevent you from following the wrong path.
- I disagree with you on the fact leading the political opposition is the wrong path to take, Isha objected. My decision had been long and hard even before getting engaged, she added looking at the now meaningless golden jewel pendent at her left ring finger pensively.
- I doubt so.
December 21st, 2030:
On December 21st, winter lurked at the corner waiting to strike on the frozen bystanders muffled in their bold winter coats under the sun barely piercing through the clouds. An icy wind blowing from the north battled the street, tore apart the last autumn leaves from the sycamore trees in its trail. Brilliant, colourful decorations hanged at the trunks, snaked around electric wires, shined at the shops’ frontages, wrapping the city in a soft, eerie, almost magical veil of light but this year none were in the mood for celebrating Christmas. Children strolled down innocently the city heart’s shopping mail from shop to shop with their parents who, as for them, paid attention to their surroundings with carefulness, hurried their offspring through the covered walkways, heading back home faster than usual after their weekly groceries. The official radio broadcasted news nonstop instead of Christmas songs, people walked fast past the office avenue their cell phones plugged to their ears muttering raucously under their scarfs, cars and public transports were riding slow the city’s outskirts, WANTED posters popped amidst the ads panels and the traffic boards: life went on, greyish, stiff, monotonous. A rainy snowstorm started to pour down from the clouds, wrapping the buildings and the urban equipment in a whitish, plain mantel of muddy ice.
“ - Hurry home before 6pm, right honey? “
- I’ll get back to you when I’ve arrived at the bus station Mom, murmured Isha looking down at her phone screen when she passed by a group of policemen wearing black raincoats who glared at her wireless headphones suspiciously.
She rode fast her bike across the academic district from the medicine faculty to the nearest bus station, disturbing the city’s ambient, wintery stiffness, listening to classical music at low volume to stop attracting attention from the militia men in black raincoats rumoured to spy on the citizens from side alleyways. Breathless, she took halt near a bench next to the information board in order to check the departure schedule and sighed heavily with resignation: next was in twenty minutes because of the recent snowfall which had fallen during the night, shutting down most of the urban traffic until the city’s staff men had cleaned up and secured the roads.
Exhausted, weary of everything for no particular reason, she took a seat on the wet wood, wrapping tightly her scarf around her neck, breathing small clouds of vapour to warm up her hands. She focused her interest on the medicine book borrowed to the library one hour ago for the holidays, checking regularly her watch, almost forgetting the world around her.
At the second her watch stroke 5 pm, she had never thought a single glance upon your shoulder could turn your life upside down in the blink of an eye and found herself rather amused and frightened by how maliciously the wheel of fate played on her its favourite trick. In the rush of after work activities occurred an unexpected encounter frosted in the coldness of December, at the least proper time, happening most awkwardly along the main street from where the eyes of power were watching out your every movement.
He sat on the other side of the bench wrapped in a black-grey winter coat, holding a glass of hot wine between his gloved fingers. Golden-brown, rebellious hair strands peeked out from the synthetic fibbers of a greyish cheap beanie, enlightening his forehead like a crown of sunrays. His face seemed to her familiar although she could not recollect his identity. Covered by large sunglasses – by the way, why was he wearing sunglasses at the beginning of winter, wondered she – his eyes looked carefully at his surroundings as if they were searching for someone or, she realized when she saw a squad of policemen in patrol, figuring how much time he needed to run away from the police but it was already too late for him to escape. He turned ostensibly his back on the street his head burrowed in the folds of his large scarf, so that he made one believe he checked distractedly his phone dashboard for new messages, although the uncovered terror in his eyes revealed he was pretending to look with attention at the screen in order to not being recognized by the officers approaching their position.
- Guess what, who do we have here? inquired mockingly a shifty voice that belonged to their chief of division who eyed on side at Isha, arms crossed over the chest.
His colleagues nodded, barely concealing their satisfaction. Stern, Isha put a bookmark on the page she was reading, stuffed her book into her backpack and unchained her bike. A slender hand grabbed her shoulder:
- Aren’t you Isha?
Pallid, overwhelmed by the fear of being arrested Isha did not turn around, wrapping the lock around the handle.
- Be careful, a price may have been put on your head.
She checked the good inflate of her wheels and mounted on her vehicle, keeping her eyelids half-shut:
- Leave me in peace I have no interest in causing trouble regarding political matters involving governmental affairs.
- Aw, why are you suddenly so strong-headed? Why don’t you come with us to talk a bit?
- I did say I have no intention of taking part in the opposition!
- Quickly said. Come with us.
The mysterious guy wearing sunglasses, who till then had kept silent the entire time, squeezed angrily his hot wine goblet between his fists so tight that it exploded splattering its red, smelly content on the snow:
- You dare bothering an innocent woman? He mumbled. What sense of justice is this?
- Huh, is it me you’re talking to, insolent brat? Has anyone ever taught you to never meddle in someone else’s business? The officer responded in an imperious voice tone to this impertinent youngster who shot glance at him brashly, amazed and angered by his audacity to defy openly a high-ranked officer from the political police.
“ – What is he thinking about, they will prosecute him for rebellion if he stands up to them any longer!” thought Isha, bewildered by his behaviour.
Her charming prince wearing dark clothes, standstill, casted his gaze up to look straight at his interlocutor recklessly from the shadows of his sunglasses.
- Know of your place, young lad, I am the law. Strange that I feel like your face is familiar, who are you?
- Does it matter to know who I am? Think of me as a casual university student going out after class, that’s all.
The officer’s gaze drifted from the young man standing in front of him to an advertisement board on which was displayed a research notice picturing a twenty years old law student that strongly resembled him:
- Is that so?
- Geez, it can’t be helped. I’ll introduce myself to make things clear between us. If you’re the law I’m the heir of the power.
- What nonsense is that?
His interlocutor took off his sunglasses to reveal his olive green eyes:
- You’ll be greasily rewarded to have captured me alive and your higher-ups will compliment your investigating skills to have found me so fast.
- What are you talking about?
- I have to tell them something really important, answered he designating the Wanted poster riveted to the bus coming across the other side of the road. Name: Hitori Kokuboheki. Age: 20. Reward? 100 000$ being dead or alive. This is what the notice says. The one said to be a lazy, careless law student son of the late Prime minister Kokuboheki stands before you and won’t surrender so easily.
- Stop kidding me!
Hitori breathed in and out deeply to remain composed but lost his countenance:
- Do you think I’m kidding? Do you think I would have been selfish enough not to raise my voice when I witness an abusive arrest? My answer is a twice no, I’m not a coward nor an opportunist!
- Well then the young lady can make her way. But you Hitori Kokuboheki you’re under arrest for being a bothersome troublemaker charged for insubordination and public order hindrance.
It sent chills down her spine: Isha complied without objection but something went wrong when she rushed aboard her bus, reprobated by the driver for bringing along her bike which she folded in haste and sat down on a free chair in the rear with relief.
Why was she feeling immensely guilty for escaping safely without rebelling?
Her family house was a well-furnished, historical two-stairs building built in old stone situated in the very heart of the city, amidst a prominent garden luxuriant even during winter bordered by a row of non-deciduous flower bushes to hide it from bystanders’ view all year long. A small earth path paved with regular flat stones led to the entrance, a tall, engraved wooden door surmounted by a glass gloriette decorated with intertwined Greek caduceus patterns. The keen interest for travelling of its owners made it a comfy, welcoming home filled with a great variety of unusual objects and surprising treasures coming from all around the world, found by chance, discovered, sometimes bought while moving on from country to country. But that evening, Isha passed by them without looking up, put away her coat in the hall’s 19th Victorian style clothing chest, blasted in the living room to say hello and headed right to her bedroom, dropping her head into her pillow to let her tears free.
She tried to put her thoughts into order but failed, realizing at last she would have been arrested if that young man named Hitori had not intervened to spare her from spending a few years in prison, relieved and scared to be safe and sound for today but this dreadful game of hide and seek with the police would not last forever. She was thankful that he found the bravery to kick against the policemen who were tormenting her but felt a melt of pity and compassion for him who had risked his life for her and was now paying twice the price of his foolhardiness, took in custody for civil disobedience to be incarcerated later after a thorough interrogatory.
Why, just why it always happened like this?
May 20th, 2055:
- Despite your father’s constant reproaches, I’ve been always disapproving your relationship with him for your own sake because staying by the side of a designated outlaw would have continuously put your life in danger.
- How... how can you say such things without even...
- I did it for your safety, honey Danielle responded, a faint smirk painted on her face. While you’re here, would you mind serving me another cup of that tea?
- Sure, Isha responded without a second thought heading to the kitchen.
“Why am I feeling so tense suddenly?” she wondered, grabbing the half-empty kettle on the counter and a teabag. A shadow took shape in the threshold behind her back while she was looking for sugar in the cupboards. “Who’s there?” she asked without turning around. A wrinkled hand silenced her while slender fingers seized hold of her hips, clawed into her soft skin. She thrashed about to break free from her aggressor, in vain. A disgusting, herbal infusion smelling like humus after the rain filled her mouth till she nearly choked up, disabled her senses, paralyzed her muscles bit by bit, numbed by a strong sedative binding her movements. The ceramic pot she held between her fingers shattered astoundingly in its fall, spilling its content all over the tiling.
- Sleep well angel, Mommy will take care of everything for you, whispered shifty lips to her ear, the last words she heard before she blacked out
- Good job Ophideus, remarked the malicious’ voice from the gloom shadows of a tenebrous cloak. I was not expecting less from you anyway.
- Mission accomplished, eh? Ophideus exclaimed victoriously with a chuckle. So easy, almost too easy, but when she will wake up she will have forgotten everything and everyone she used to know. Holding his queen of heart in hostage will surely make it easier for us to get close to them as soon as they will find out about the matter.
- But they never will.
- Of course not.
The echo of their laughter resonated for long after they left, scaring a group of pigeons who fled away from the balcony’s guardrail in a wing rustle. A cell-phone rang somewhere in the emptiness of the apartment, then the silence came again. Lancaster picked up from the ground a shattered photo frame fallen from the chimney: “Crap!”
- Apparently, we came too late Styx observed leaned back against the threshold.
- Damsel in distress, Council of Cosmos to the rescue, I guess.
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