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Auburn Part 4 – The Dark Universe


It was only when I stepped out into the cool air that I felt the fatigue that was pulling my shoulders down into a slouch and making my feet drag across the concrete paving. I wondered what time it was, assuming it was early morning. Sleep. That was what my body kept screaming at me as I trudged through the streets, going back around the  building hoping I’d circle back to where I was in the direction of the hotel. My walk proved fruitful as the large illuminated Y appeared as I turned the corner. I knew that eventually I would have to go back there, something about how the Auburn haired lady had run there got me thinking about the place; why was she running there? And what happened at the hotel that I was dragged away along with the lady to be stashed away where we were. I couldn’t piece it all together, I couldn’t understand why the man was after me, why he’d injected me with this venom and why was she dead! It was then that I noticed how tightly I was clutching the laptop bag across my chest. What did it hold? Maybe a cure! I stopped, pulling the hoodie off my head to feel a breeze brush against my heated cheeks. >Maybe if I opened it now…< I looked around. This was not the best place to open a laptop bag – my only option, was home. A sense of deja vu struck me as I continued down the road. A car stood in front of me and to confirm my thoughts, I saw a cordoned off entrance into a building…the very same one I’d run into earlier. I hurried on towards the car, peeking in curiously to see what was inside. A glint caught my eye and my heart rate suddenly kicked up – keys? I peered through the window to see a set of keys hanging precariously on the edge of the driver’s seat. A thought crossed my mind and I quickly brushed it off, but it came back stronger. I reached into the back pocket of my jeans, pulling out the now frayed piece of paper; my train ticket – expired. I looked around the area seeing no one. My throat was suddenly dry and I felt my hands shake in anxiety, fear and…yes excitement. I pulled my hoodie up and tried the door. The satisfactory *click* of the door opening sent a pulse of excitement. I took the keys off the seat and stuck them into the ignition, turning it to hear the engine roar to life. I didn’t even notice that I was smiling until I looked into the rear-view mirror. The bloodshot eyes staring back at me startled me. >Its just fatigue< I thought, not wiling to accept the look of the man staring back at me. With that thought in mind, I drove away heading towards home.
I pulled up to the street and thought about where I’d park the car – it would be stupid to park it in my driveway..stupid to have taken it in the first place but it was too late for that. Suddenly the thought of finger prints and policemen raiding my house flashed through my mind and a stab of fear pierced through my heart. I carefully drove outside my neighbourhood, and parked the car in the parking lot of a local grocer. No one would think…>wait the window is broken< Damn. I sat in the car a while. >what now…ah!< An idea came to mind, a friend actually…one who wouldn’t ask any questions; he was shifty like that. But first I needed sleep. I drove back into my neighbourhood, thankful that at this late hour no one would be picking up on this suspicious movement. I pulled into my driveway, searching my pockets to realize that I did not have my keys – or my wallet. It seemed like everything was just not going right for me tonight. Luckily, I kept a spare key in an inconspicuous place close to the door for emergency situations like these but before I’d even taken the key from where I’d hidden it, I noticed that my door was partially open – spare key still in the lock. >Aw no I’ve been burgled too!? Can’t I just get a break!< I opened the door, seeing the room in a mess in what little moonlight shone through my opened curtains – but then again my room was already a mess and everything seemed to be where it was supposed to be…or was it rearranged? I cautiously walked in, treading lightly in case the intruder was still in the house. I made my way through each room to find nothing. I hurried back to close the door, flicking the switch up to see the room better. I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw that nothing had been stolen or broken, however there was a note on the table. I apprehensively moved towards it, leaning over it to read it without touching it
“Welcome home”
Panic. This note could only be from one person. I couldn’t stay here, it wasn’t safe – who knows what he may have found out about me or left behind for me here. Maybe he’d released gas and the house would…no that was stupid, this wasn’t some B-rate movie where bad guys blew up peoples houses. No. This was reality and I had toxins streaming through my body and maybe a cure in the laptop bag clutched in my hand and now even my home was unsafe. The panic I felt became paranoia; suddenly my light bulb and lamp and TV were eyes, watching me, waiting for me – I bolted out the house and back into the car. I sped out and away, tearing through the roads, heading in the direction of my friend, the shifty one who wouldn’t ask any questions – and wasn’t he a doctor too; maybe he could help me get this bracelet off my ankle and quite possibly know a way to get the toxins out of my blood stream. Feeling somewhat reinvigorated by the positive prospect ahead, I draped the hoodie over my head and gunned down the accelerator.
I pulled up to his house, banging the car door as I jumped out, laptop in hand; there was no way I’d leave it in the car. I rushed to his front door, pounding on it as soon as I could. When he didn’t answer after a while I ran around to where I knew his bedroom window was and knocked on the glass heavily.
“What the…who the heck is that!” I heard him call from inside. Instead of answering, I went back to the front door and knocked hard on it with the side of my fist. I heard the sound of bare feet slapping against hard floor from behind the door, the rattling of the door chain and a click before the door swung open and a baseball bat half swung at my face,
“What the heck do you want” his bloodshot eyes were wide and afraid, his dark brown hair a tangled mess and his nose wide, flaring. Recognition lit his eyes up and he breathed a sigh of relief, sniffing as he did
“Dude! Do you know what time it is! You can’t be pounding on people’s doors this late at night…I thought…” I pushed past him, maneuvering around the somewhat familiar setting of his place, turning on the light in the lounge and moving towards his couch where I sat down.
“I need you to do something for me” I said to him as he appeared; he squinted apprehensively at me – he always looked weird without his glasses. I placed my foot on the table, rolling my jeans up to show him the dark plastic that was the ankle bracelet
“House arrest?” He asked, coming closer to stand over me.
“No…and you won’t believe me when I tell you” he gave a look that said ‘try me’ “Its a long story. Just – just see if you can get it off. Also…something else I’d like you to do for me…”
“Wow aren’t we demanding today” he said, sarcasm and a hint of anger escaping his now pursed lips,
“This thing…” I said, pointing at the bracelet, “…its injected some sort of…poison I guess…yeah some sort of poison into me and I need to get it out or get an antidote or something for it. I don’t know how long I’ll live for if…if it stays in me. I know you’re a doctor or something. Will you check it out?” he looked at me curiously, his dark green eyes serious
“What have you gotten yourself into – this sounds…serious” he sniffed and I noticed his arm shake slightly
“Don’t ask questions man, just…just help me here.”
“And why should I help you…and don’t play the friendship card on me.” I thought about what I could offer; I remembered his addiction.
“Money…” When his eyes lit up, I knew I had him “I’ll give you money if you do this for me”
“How much are we talking”
“Who cares!” my patience was running thin and fatigue was settling in hard. I could barely keep my eyes open. “We’ll talk details later okay!?” his arm twitched and his lips pursed until all I could see was a line “Fine. A thousand.”
“Deal. Let me get my tools.” I watched him take off and I leaned back into the couch. One moment I was looking up at his ceiling fan, the next I was out.
I woke up with a start, jumping to my feet with my heart thudding in my chest – where was I? The room was brighter and sunlight filtered in through the open curtains. The room was somewhat neat, furnished at least and everything came crashing back to memory. I fell back onto the chair, as the memory of the past events played through my thoughts. I realized that my foot was feeling…better? I looked down at my ankle, fighting the bubbling excitement when I noticed that the bracelet was off and in fact lying on the table, open. I picked up the bracelet, seeing the tiny pins that lined the entire bracelet – the end of the pins seemed to be dulled as though coated in blood. Some sort of LED lights lined the bottom of it, though only a single red light was on with the others dark – below them was a number. Fear and hope surged simultaneously at the sight of it. I looked around for a phone, seeing my friends phone near a desk against the wall. I rushed to it, hurriedly dialing the number. With the receiver in my ear I waited, wondering if I’d hear his voice – shocked, surprised maybe? Yes catch him off guard, he wont be expecting… I pulled my ear away as the sound of static blasted into my ear –  at the same time, the bracelet suddenly clicked shut. I dropped the bracelet in shock. I watched it, wondering if it would open itself again…or maybe it was on a timer or the battery had run out but that single LED light was still on. >The number!?< I dialed the number again. The bracelet sprung open > was that how he got it out? < I dialed the number again, watching the bracelet click shut. Joy filled my chest, the bracelet was off! Now the laptop and maybe the toxins had also been extracted. I looked around the room for the laptop, hoping to finally figure out what exactly was on it or at least a clue to the guy who did all of this to me. I moved through the room, my eyes scanning every inch of it. The bag should be near the couch if not on it but it I couldn’t see it. A thought crossed my mind. Anger followed it. I headed through the house, straight to the back where I knew he had a den that he worked in. I barged through the door. He startled in his chair, the laptop out of its bag and a familiar screen asking for a password,
“Oh hey I was just…” I didn’t wait for him to finish as my fist connected with his nose. He fell backwards completely out of his chair with a thump.
“Hey man what the heck!” He bubbled through his hands; blood seeping through his fingers in rivulets.
“Don’t you dare touch my stuff!”
“I get that thing off your ankle and this is the thanks I get!”
“What the heck are you doing going through my stuff!?”
“Its just a laptop!”  I shut the laptop, noticing a card lying within the bag, the familiar pattern adorned on its laminated surface with a big Y on the front. I zipped the bag to close the laptop before taking it with me.
“Hey! Where’s my money for the bracelet.”
“I’ll get it to you.” I hissed. Without another word I exited the house, getting into the car and hiding the laptop bag underneath my seat. Now with the knowledge that I had a key card for a room at the Y hotel, I decided that that would be my next stop. Maybe in there I’d find a clue, something the auburn haired lady had left behind…anything.
I stopped a few blocks away from the Y hotel, aware that I was driving the vehicle of one of their security guards and driving in with it would be asking for trouble. I stepped out of the car, drawing my hoodie over my head and checking to see if the baton was still in my jacket pocket. Satisfied, I took the laptop bag with me and began walking up to the hotel, clutching it tightly in my hand. As I neared the entrance, I saw a group of what looked like tourists ascending the stairs heading up to the hotel. I quickly join the entourage, remaining at the back as they entered the building and slipping off past them towards the elevators once we were in. I stepped into the cool interior pulling the key card out from the laptop bag to see the number of my room. 42. I pressed the appropriate floor number, tapping the key card on my leg to the tune of the elevator music. Arriving at the floor, I began to move through the corridor looking for my room number, finding the door with the number 42 emblazoned on its front. I swiped the card and entered, immediately noticing the ever present smell of hotel rooms and the neatly arranged interior, just as elegant as the hotel itself. I placed the laptop bag on the desk, finally able to see what was on it – hopefully something. I flipped the lid of the laptop up, seeing that the screen hadn’t changed from when I’d taken it from my shifty little friend earlier. The screen still displaying the varying gradient of purple to peach and the bottom of the screen validating my thoughts “Ubuntu 13.04” > just like at work<. I saw the jug of water from my peripheral and to help me think, I poured myself a glass, sitting back at the desk and wondering what the password would be. The answer were so close and yet so far so I leaned back in my chair, staring at the screen – waiting for the answer.

About Nthato Morakabi

Nthato Morakabi is a South African published author. He has short stories appearing in both international and local anthologies, and has published his first book, Beneath the Wax, which opens his three-part novella series "Wax". He is an avid reader, blogger and writer.

4 responses »

  1. Pingback: Auburn Part 4 – Unhinging Light | Life. In Light Of Eternity.

  2. i’m loving this,good stuff

  3. Pingback: Auburn Part 5 – Unhinging Light | A-Scribe To Describe

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