He stared up into the darkness and breathed in heavily. He felt so at home inside here, however, it still felt strange, even after all this time. Not enough room to sleep across though, he took a mental note to get a bigger one next time. He pressed the button on his right side and it opened slowly, just like in the movies, he smiled. This, he requested for personally from the carpenter. As it opened he just laid there, the smile faded from his face, he didn’t want to get up.
He remembered that day vividly, the day this existence began. He had left work early and was heading home; he even called his mum and asked her to make his favorite dish. “Mother”, he remised fondly. She was one of those types that liked yelling and cursing. She wouldn’t say a single sentence without including an inappropriate word. He never knew his father, he once heard a neighbor say that he used to cheat on her and beat her. That day he hoped to never find him, because he would take intense pleasure in hurting him. She died of cancer, lung cancer from smoking too much, the doctor said.
“Master, master”, a voice interrupted his thoughts, “master, master!” He kept silent and prayed the butler would get tired of calling and go. “I know you are awake”, the butler shouted, “your food is ready”. Still he kept silent and waited. “You have to feed sir, at some point”, there was silence then he heard the footsteps moving away from his room slowly and down the stairs they went. “Why do I keep that guy alive”, he thought to himself.
The butler was a large burly man with a thick beard probably in his sixties. He looked like a cartoon character and his statue amused him. He did not know if he had any family and friends, he never talked about them and he never went out. When he was not doing anything, the butler just sat at the chair facing the street while smoking a pipe for hours. He always wondered what he was thinking when he sat there; he would give anything to know this man’s thoughts. He is the boy, now a man, who found him at that alley way and brought him back home and has lived with him ever since.
He settled back on the pillow and his thoughts wondered again… back to that day. He passed by the butchery and bought a kilo of beef and some pork. He was whistling some jiggle that he heard on the radio in the train as he walked down the road, he was just two blocks away from the house. Then he saw something disappear into an alley. He walked faster and looked down the alley. All his senses were screaming to him not to follow it, but he just couldn’t resist. The urge to find out what it was too strong. Is it a cat, a dog ….a woman, he hoped it was a woman, he hadn’t been with one for a while “one way to find out”, he thought as he entered the dark alley.
It was a dark winter night and there had been a blizzard, the alley was full of snow, it was dark, too dark, and then his eyes started getting used to the dark. He could map out the alley way and it seemed to go on and on, he couldn’t see the other side, “why would someone walk through here? He thought. On each side of the alley there was a tall building made of stone. They must have been warehouses because there seemed to be no one living there. There was also no night guard on duty. But it was not uncommon to find unmanned buildings because ever since the new police commissioner came the crime rate had reduced significantly much to the dismay of the neighboring town, it seemed like all the criminals who were not in jail had relocated there.
The police commissioner was a strange man. Many people who had met him never seemed to be normal again. They said he was a scary man. But he was so short and stout, how can such a short man be the terror of all the gangs in the city until they had to relocate? He must be very harsh. He had heard other stories too. Blood cuddling stories from the dungeons, there were rumors that since he came there has been something terrorizing the prisoners. People kept disappearing or found dead in strange circumstances, but of course no one ever had proof of this.
There, he saw it again. It looked like it was floating in the wind, higher and higher. He ran and tried to get a good look at it, but it always floated just above his line of vision, taunting him, daring him to get closer. He looked around frustrated. He needed to get to a higher place, get a good view. There is always a flight of stairs somewhere in these alleys; he just had to find one. He found it, just at the edge of the wall and he began climbing up, but the higher he went, the higher the thing flew.
He was almost giving up when suddenly, it stopped floating. It just hung there like it was frozen in time. For a second it felt like time had stopped, his heart skipped several beats in anticipation. He climbed up to the roof slowly all the time his eyes were focused on the shadow, crimson velvety, softly calling his name; it was like he was in a trance, in ecstasy. He reached out to touch it, but it was just out of reach. What was it, a woman? A man? An angel? A demon? A sharp pain on the right side of his neck brought him back to reality; he turned around in panic, nothing! He touched his neck, blood! He looked back at the shadow, gone! He fell down faint, and then he thought he saw something, a short, stout man, then, darkness. Darkness for fifty years.
He never found out who did this to him but he had an idea who it might be, the man he saw just before he passed out. He drifted in and out of consciousness for two weeks and when he woke up he wasn’t the same again. He heard that the commissioner was killed by a mob, burned at the stake; they said he was involved in witch craft, the gangs found a way to get rid of him.
“Master!” damn butler again. “Am coming, am coming”, he said as he got out of the black mahogany coffin lined with soil from his birth place, he pressed another button and it closed itself up. He walked up to his window and saw his reflection, he still looked 22 years old after 50 years. He looked past his reflection… down to the streets… people going about their businesses. As he was pulling up the curtains, he saw something, a peculiar and familiar figure, short and stout, he couldn’t believe it, he pulled up the blinder.. “Could it be”, he thought .. The man looked up, straight at him as if he was standing there, waiting for him… their eyes met… he blinked… and he was gone. He opened the window and looked around the streets frantically.. He was gone …He could not believe it, but he was sure, it was him…….. The commissioner!