Thursday, May 7, 2009

Plagued with Nightmares

I was visiting a crush to walk her home after work, and while we were talking, the espresso machine at the stall malfunctioned, and there was a minor, albeit somewhat dangerous explosion. Shrapnel went every which way. Serious injury was narrowly avoided by the booth personnel, and I've still got marks from where I was hit by sharp pieces of caffeine doused steam enhanced bits of metallic evil. It could have been a lot worse... and this covers my adrenaline infused near death experience and the rambling "What-If's?" that spawned from the event.

Not to mention the night terrors that show no signs of stopping any time soon. :'(

It was a late night.

Or rather, it was late night shopping, when the stores are open to 9pm. When it first was implemented, the majority of the community was singing their praises about being able to find time to get their groceries. Now? Not really. The stores are always full of teenagers, wandering about, sullen-like, glaring at everyone, forming gangs, getting wound up over the tiniest thing, starting fights... Lately its become so bad that the community is in favour of the shops being closed at that hour again. Not that it matters. They'll just roam the streets.

Rambling. Yes. I do that.
My name is Jarome. I was there that night.
'What night?' you say, 'how is that night any different than the other 300 before it?'
If you listen, and don't interrupt, I'll tell you.
'Okay.' you should say.

It was a late night, around 9pm when all shopkeeps were closing their stores and shutting up for the night. I loitered outside the local coffee shop, waiting for one of my friends to get off work. Since I had been wandering around, I figured I may as well walk her home. We live in the same neighbourhood. I was the last customer for the night. It wasn't really like I'd planned it that way, it just happened. Besides, I really needed my mango fix.

Yeah, I have an addiction to mangoes, of all things. Healthy though, and not at all illegal.

So I stood a little back, alternating my attention between the screaming, hollering, treat-begging children... or munchkin brigades... going past me; I hate kids sometimes. Purely because they tug at the heart-strings, and you just wanna give them a toy. I'm one of the few people in the world that would do that out of the kindness of my heart, and not for any illegal, ulterior, degrading, sickening motive, thank you very much.

My attention was grasped by my drink at that particular moment, which I was enjoying, just slurping away at it quietly, leaning against a pillar and waving at the security that walked on by. They knew me. We had good conversations about the differences between security, bodyguards and the police/cops/fuzz depending on your nationality, that is. Either way, they knew I wasn't a threat to them, the community or anyone else in general. Its pretty cool, knowing they've got your back.

Around then, I glanced at my friend, have I introduced you yet? No? Didn't think so.
See, here's my predicament, I don't mind telling you my name, but its her name I don't want to mention. You know all that privacy stuff? Yeah, I personally don't worry much about it. Why would I? But I don't want her to get any flak for it so... um... what shall we call her?

Er... loose veil... Dawn. There we go. We'll call her Dawn. Why that particular name? Maybe because I'm telling you this story at three in the freakin' morning? Hm? Moving on now?

'Yes... no need to shout.'

Around then, I glanced at Dawn, wondering idly whether she'd actually mind walking with me. I figured I should ask her before she actually starts to leave instead of just making an assumption. Weird, I know, not thinking of other's reactions first. How silly of me. I almost kicked myself. What a fool. Maybe she wanted to be alone? Who knows? Maybe I should ask? Yes. Decided I would. Much easier.

Edging my way over, I stopped and watched her finish working. Not in a creepy way, mind you, I just find some of the machinery interesting, and seeing as she was in the process of cleaning it, I figured it was as good a time as any to inspect it from a close perspective, as opposed to tilting my head at it while the line moves sloooowly towards the cashier. I'm a weird one. Yes. I know.

Dawn raised an eyebrow at me, "What're you up to there, darl?" she asked me, a wary undertone in her voice. Its almost like she doesn't trust me. But the smile shows me she's joking. Still, with that equipment, its best to be careful. I stopped, teetering back and forth, watching her work. "Nothing, just wanted to look at the pweeeeeeeeeeetty baris..."
She glared at me over her glasses, cutting me off mid-word.
"...pweeeetty machinery..." I changed my word, innocently whistling... and failing miserably.

"Sure." She went back to cleaning after a moment, leaving me to look around the booth at the other occupants, about five in total, including Dawn. I turned back, to discover she'd moved away to wring out her chuck. Scratching an itch on my lower lip with my thumb, I looked past Dawn at the large metallic contraption that the entire crew were all pitching in to clean.

'Hurry up.'
'I said, hurry it along. I have better things to do than listen to you going on about nothing at all.'
... The metaphorical door is there. Leave whenever you feel like it.
Until then...

Dawn's boss, Derek, I think his name is, tapped his way along the top of the machine, searching for something. From my perspective I could see a small catch at the top, he was way off.
"Right. Right... Back... a tad to the left." I called, doing a small dance in celebration when he got it.
"Thanks Jarome."
I was surprised he knew my name. How odd. Maybe Dawn talks about me? Yeah... riiight...

A sudden hiss followed by a loud clunk brought me crashing out of my musings.
"...uuuh, oh fu-" Derek muttered, backing away from the machine that had started to vibrate wildly and violently, spewing forth steam and small bursts of heated air. Dawn and her colleagues stumbled backwards, trying to put space between themselves and the now dangerous machine.

Like an idiot, I moved forwards, trying to get a better idea of what was happening. I saw a temperature scale moving past the 90°C mark and up higher into the *OH DEAR FUCK WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING - TOO DAMN HOT YOU FOOL!* area. Peering at it, I stepped closer, eyeing the machine distastefully. Frankly, I don't like coffee that much, I prefer tea... or coke... or a mango smoothie. Sue me.

No. Just... just no.
Do shut up.

I tried to make out what the writing under the jarring, jerking, vibrating sign proclaiming WARNING said, but it was just moving too fast for my eye to pick up at this distance. I was concentrating so hard that I nearly missed Derek diving to the ground, closely followed by Dawn and Co. scattering. I glanced at their figures, leaping over the benches, pushing by me, hiding behind couches, spinning me around and knocking me backwards. I stumbled forwards, trying to keep my balance. Looking up, the machine gave another loud thunk and then, it happened.

'What happened?'
You just -ruined- my dramatic pause.
You're not sorry.
'No. Guess not.'
...I hate you. So very, very much.

The machine's seal cracked and burst outwards, sending a shower of scalding water up skyward, like a bullet from a gun, shrapnel from the small geyser's explosive exit shot in an arc, peppering the walls, floors, ceiling, booth and surrounding area that the staff had taken refuge behind. Like seats and ridiculously large novelty pot plants.

'So. What was so bad?'

I wasn't so lucky. Having ended up close to the blast radius of the steaming, shuddering, geyser-erupting ruins of an espresso machine, I too as peppered with sharp slivers of metal. Mostly.

And don't you forget it!

At first, I didn't notice as my body was one large pain-filled being. I had flung my left arm across my face to protect my eyes, neck and my heart via my elbow. Blood was running in small rivulets down my arms and legs, staining my socks beyond repair. But that didn't matter. What mattered was the true source of my pain. I dropped my left hand to my chest, laying directly over my sternum it came to a stop, I looked down blearily seeing the blood cover my finger tips, soaking into my skin. My hands were so still, resting on my chest to stem the flow of blood from the large, jagged protuding invader of my bodily functions. Damn shrapnel.

You have NO idea.
'I don't want to.'
I roll my eyes in your general direction.
'I ignore you.'
...I still hate you...

A gasp and scrabbling behind me caught my attention. My eyes gradually swung around, my head twisting around, pulling sharply on the wound in my chest. Grimacing, my raised hand, dripping blood was the first thing the booth staff saw. I think Derek fainted. That made me giggle, or would have, had the mere action triggered another bout of sharp jabbing agony. No pun intended. Dawn was up and moving towards me just as my legs failed me.

What? Nothing to add?
'Continue already.'
Fine, fine.

I collapsed to my knees, tears welling in my eyes after the slight delay in connecting the pain to my nerves and on to my OH DEAR GOD THAT FUCKING HURTS reaction. Dawn caught me as I keeled over backwards, lowering me carefully to the ground. Already, I could feel my body seizing up. My left hand clenched my jacket, but my right hand, relatively clean sought hers.
"I'm sorry."
I'm not sure who said it. Maybe both. I guess I'll never know.

You gotta be kidding me.
'SHUT UP! Just keep talking!'
That was so redundant, its not even funny...

I don't recall moving my hand, but I stroked a tear off her cheek. "Don't cry for me..." I trailed off, my eyes dimming slowly. My hand dropped back to hers, pulling it closer to me, I kissed it softly. "Live your life to its full potential... its too short to waste on sadness." Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a stretcher-bearing pair of security guards sprinting towards me. Its nice to know they have my back...and the rest of me.

'So... you lived?'

A few months later, Dawn decided to leave town. She quit her job, made arrangements, packed her belongings away and headed out the door. Her family and friends were there to see her off. All but Jarome.

'Talking about yourself in third person isn't healthy, you know.'
Bite me.
'I can't imagine that would be healthy either.'

I arrived late, lost in traffic, of a sort. I sprinted through the terminal, dodging, ducking and weaving through the blindly moving crowd out of habit. I passed doorway, after doorway, trying to find gateway 216. Dawn's flight. I caught sight of her family, and dashed through the gateway, I wondered if I should stop to say a brief few words to the security guards about why I should be let through. I breezed right past them. Then never blinked. I didn't stop running until the glass walls, seperating me from Dawn. Reaching out, I pressed my left hand against the glass as she walked by, waving sadly to the gathering behind me.

'She didn't see you?'
I like to think she did.

She kept walking, right on by, then suddenly she stopped and turned. As if wondering why she was doing it, she pressed her own hand against the glass. My breath misted the glass, and with the very tip of my left index, I wrote "LIVE". Backwards to me, of course.
I could hear the gathering muttering behind me -
"Whats she doing?"
"Is she having a fit? Pressing her hand against the glass like that?"
"Wait... where's that writing coming from?"
"She looks... sad."
"I wish Jarome were here."

'What? But you were! You were standing right there!'
I know.
'Did you say anything to them?'
No. I could only manipulate a few things in the physical world. The writing was one.
'...what are you on about?'

I turned and walked away, passing right through the crowd as if they weren't there. To me, they weren't. I had one more item of business to do before I was done. I had to choose someone to record my story.

That someone is you.
'Me? What are you?'
Beg pardon?
'Have you escaped from a mental institution?'
'Do you have a fever?'
Fuck no.
'You sound crazy to me. What's your excuse?'
Hm. I'm dead. A ghost. A paranormal existential imprint of my former self, I have unfinished business which I am attending to now. I had to get my message out - coffee kills.
'Yes, well, I'm sure this story shall sell nicely as a sci-fi.'
Its the truth. I died that day. Look it up. Its on the interbentz!
'...wait here. I'm fetching a strait-jacket.'
Ah... If I was alive... would I be able to do *this*?

'Are you okay?'
'I've been talking to a ghost! Oh-god-oh-god-oh-god-oh-god...'
'Um... have you been drinking?'
'No! You know I don't drink... this early. But I may just make an exception.'
'Right... sure. What's this? A story?"
'DON'T TOUCH THAT! Its his story! It must be published...'
'Right away, if not before! He might come back otherwise.'
'Jarome's ghost!!!'
'To the publishers!'
'And just what shall we call it?'
'We'll figure that out when we get there... GO GO GO!'

======== End ========

Evidently ghosts are only magical and trapped at Hogwarts.