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Written by casteleijn

On the kindling of gems

My silent stare rudely interrupted.

My out-of-focus hide-a-way disrupted.

A movement, a vibration in the greenness

so vividly splayed over its shadows.

One leaf recovers the assault.

Tap-tap-tap! Left, Up, Another One!

Gently a slow symphony of green-light

and green-movements. Promises of

impending sounds. Focused now

I interpret this flora-aqua-dialogue,

carelessly skipping verb-punctuations

Ratta-tap-tappa-tap-tap an overwhelmed

green-crowd protests the Soaking a

cataclysmic event hidden under a grey

concealing sheet pooling water eddies

slurping sounds the cooling air shivering

Residing-waiting-emerging

Tap-tap. Tap. The firmament-free droplets

overdue, now yield to their weight and

reflect their splashes onto my bare skin.

Traces of time, of music, of a conversation.

I look closer and find pearls beading.

The sky cracks and breaks, warmth

and light flood in, so welcome.

This quiet intermezzo trickles on

while pearls turn into jewels,

while I lose focus in my silent stare.

(c) Casteleijn MG. 2017

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Written by casteleijn
On the kindling of gems
My silent stare rudely interrupted.
My out-of-focus hide-a-way disrupted.
A movement, a vibration in the greenness
so vividly splayed over its shadows.
One leaf recovers the assault.

Tap-tap-tap! Left, Up, Another One!
Gently a slow symphony of green-light
and green-movements. Promises of
impending sounds. Focused now
I interpret this flora-aqua-dialogue,
carelessly skipping verb-punctuations

Ratta-tap-tappa-tap-tap an overwhelmed
green-crowd protests the Soaking a
cataclysmic event hidden under a grey
concealing sheet pooling water eddies
slurping sounds the cooling air shivering

Residing-waiting-emerging

Tap-tap. Tap. The firmament-free droplets
overdue, now yield to their weight and
reflect their splashes onto my bare skin.
Traces of time, of music, of a conversation.
I look closer and find pearls beading.

The sky cracks and breaks, warmth
and light flood in, so welcome.
This quiet intermezzo trickles on
while pearls turn into jewels,
while I lose focus in my silent stare.

(c) Casteleijn MG. 2017



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Explore the concept of Time in a poem
Written by casteleijn in portal Poetry & Free Verse

Who can bear so much reality?

A sequence of events, linear,

smeared all over my face.

A kite hanging in the storm.

Platonian void, but this one

the Beholder took as its own.

Let them stare, gawk, trip

with elation over moments

not yet born. Hidden features

will fall away while leveling.

A heat is hiding in the morning chill.

Yet the apathic release of energy

only leads to a standstill. Where

now do we hide from the storm?

So gentle is the darkening night.

Later I will neatly fold my silent

                                                   Goodbye.

(c) Casteleijn MG. 2017 

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Explore the concept of Time in a poem
Written by casteleijn in portal Poetry & Free Verse
Who can bear so much reality?
A sequence of events, linear,
smeared all over my face.
A kite hanging in the storm.
Platonian void, but this one
the Beholder took as its own.

Let them stare, gawk, trip
with elation over moments
not yet born. Hidden features
will fall away while leveling.

A heat is hiding in the morning chill.
Yet the apathic release of energy
only leads to a standstill. Where
now do we hide from the storm?
So gentle is the darkening night.

Later I will neatly fold my silent
                                                   Goodbye.


(c) Casteleijn MG. 2017 
6
1
0
Juice
44 reads
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Trident Media Group is the leading U.S. literary agency and we are looking to discover and represent the next bestsellers. Share a sample of your work. If it shows promise, we will be in touch with you.
Written by casteleijn in portal Trident Media Group

The magic city

Chapter 3 of "The Death of an Emperor", a set of vignettes unraveling the mystery.

The bright sun washes out the colors, even the trees look bleached through Curro’s squinting eyes. It is one of those mornings. One of those mornings that everything starts late. Power interruptions, both alarm clocks failing, milk gone sour. Interrupted communications error, some network down, no way to let the office know. One of those mornings playing catch-up. Scramble, hurry, and stub a toe. No power also means no steam cleaning this morning, “Why did I not get an apartment with an old fashioned water shower”, Curro’s close mouthed curses are hidden sounds; the city outside came to life hours ago.

Moments later Curro is on the sidewalk dusting of his clothes after he missed a couple of steps on the way down the stairs. In Curro’s hands the sad remains of his sunglasses, so to get some placebo relieve of the heat and blazing sun he crosses the street. He looks back to his apartment building free from the grip of the palm tree-shadows. The faintest memory of its original color is hinting at a pink hue, the raised letters barely read MACONA with some unreadable symbols underneath it. Curro starts reliving his inane quest to retell the story behind the name. It was his curiosity and his love of telling stories that led him to become a reporter, and young as he was he thought it would make a nice story. Quickly he found out that storytelling by the Xīnwén Network of Imperial Glory, or simply the Network, is a political game. Political games he tried to escape when he left Havana. It was shot down, especially after they found out he already spend some money on the investigations.

Curro shakes his head. He is late, and there is no way he can make it to the XNIG corporate ferry in time. So he jogs slowly down sw 6th street, towards the glitter of water between the abandoned buildings that still stand along the 6th courtyard on his left. He hopes to find some illegal water taxi at 5th and 4th to take him down the river to Swire Key to go around the isle to the B-park. He is lucky. One older man, a Haitian to hear from his accent has just sold all his patties and frescos, and is willing for a steep rate to bring Curro to work. Curro curses under his breath, he really does not need this right now. The last thing he needs is to call father again for more money. Water and bread the rest of the week it seems. The boat trip is apart from the humming of the engine, peaceful. Left desolate buildings stand in the water until they hit the river proper and the increased speed bring a bit of cooling on this hot day. After rounding the point the Haitian cuts in front of the isle, more that 4 feet of water is standing over the old bridge now, more than enough for the small flat boat to approach the park from the west. Most of the tall Brickell buildings are gone now, recycled for its steel, mainly to elevate I95. Still the aorta for the city. If the flow stops, the magic dies.

Sweat is dripping down his back when Curro pays the man and finds his way to the checkpoint. Swire Key is Imperial territory from the day of occupancy, and the Key was owned by Chinese corporate head-figures long before then. Curro chooses this checkpoint over the Brickell-Point since only Imperial Card Holders are allowed to enter via B-park. His choice is right, not many people are entering at this time through the gate, although he does see the large silhouette of his boss at the front of the line. Quickly he ducks down to tighten his shoe lace and avoids being seen. His name will be on the list of late entries anyway, but it is a psychological thing. Curro curses the power outage in his building. Curses from Swire Key are dangerous spells. When the scanner notices the biodegradable implant under his wrist the screen turns green: “Franciso López Fernández, ICH, Havana”. The guards let him in, and Curro sighs as he counts the 49 steps up to the main entrance of the XNIG headquarters in the Americas. Every day these steps, these cogwheels of a corporate lucky charm take the fun out of reporting.

First things first: coffee. A strong brew and then messages: none. “Mmm is that good or bad”, he mumbles. Others ignore his mumbling habits. He did miss a meeting though. The spirits lift a bit after the coffee and being engulfed in airco-air. So he calls, again to the power company. Who direct him to his landlord, who directs him to the block curator. The dick.

“Twenty-eight-minutes. Twenty-eight. Oh, oh, oh, wait for it! Click. Twenty-nine-minutes. On hold.” The science of Muzak calms no-one, especially after twenty-nine-minutes of sweaty intimate moments with a mobile phone. Curro sighs, hate is a weak word for the feeling inside. It is more an explosive, infinite annoyance of supernova quality. From his neck protrudes his nervous tick. His tick is an obviously trained public speaker. With Shakespearean acting skills it draws the people in, to deliver the punch lines in the most prominent way. Just to make sure his co-workers get the proper translation Curro hits his hand flat on the desk, a sign of loss. A loss of control, of time and nerve. A look from another booth gets his answer: “why can these companies just pick up the phone or call me back... yeah hallo, hallo, fu...” and a grunt.

Curro is about the fling his phone through his standard issue “Interactive Holographic Active Matrix Organic Droplet”-screen”. Of course the nebulizer may get it, most likely another phone will be added to his expense sheet.

Sure enough. Curro’s IHAMOD comes to life as if to protest its earlier promise of an assault. It shows a picture of the large round face his boss, under it scrolls the message:

“[INSERT NAME] is requested to come to the office of the executive producer who is waiting for you. Bless the Emperor. May his heart full of light guide you through this day.”

Another harmless phone is saved. For now. Curro’s hand over the console pauses the image. Insert name? Curro is still fuming, but a silent heat-like boiling anger takes over so he slips his phone into his drink to silently protest all injustice done to him today, then he gets up to see why he is summoned. Either because he was late or those damn expense sheets. Insert name? Curro’s manicurial habit saves his palms from some bloody wounds. Then the ominous door of the executive producer swings open, while Curro tight fists slowly open like a fern unfurling in sweet morning rain. But Curro’s rain is black, thick and a toxic acid this morning. The silhouette blocks the streams of real-light that wants to intrude in TL-tube land. Some people blink. Time to go. He hopes it because he is late. If he gets chided again for his excessive expense sheets he needs to find another job. Curro has all the receipts somewhere, and an excuse for all of them. Now more people look out of their cubicles. Curiosity is a scared animal. He stands up slowly, gives a last look at his sad phone floating in his drink and with a light tread tries to calm himself after not talking to the block curator to not get his electrical problems fixed. Now he hopes he will not not keep his job. A day of everything starting late progresses nicely into a day of getting nothing done.

Curro comes face to face with the executive producer. The mountain they call him, for obvious reasons, but also because he is an extension of the Emperor: a symbol of stability and of the Earth itself. The mountain grins, “please come in and take a seat”. The moment Curro steps over the threshold, his spidey senses tingle. Curro feels it. Sometimes, he compares himself to a spider, a made-up hero from a long forgotten past. Nobody gets Curro’s jokes. He sits, the mountain stands in front of his desk. The roles are clear. So he waits for the mountain turns to volcano, yet a smile graces the face of his boss. Panic strikes Curro now. This is way worse than he could ever imagine.

He has read the reports from the illegal Spanish newspapers sold next door. The language is banned for decades now, a decree of the prior Emperor still strongly enforced. In little Havana many still speak it daily though and in Cuba news and newspapers are more openly defiant. Last week a headline in the Havana Post: “Federico López Famosa proposes changes in the trade agreements” and last month: “Strict regulations from our Glorious Leader dim the economy”. Something is brewing and it is clear that his father is a big part of it. Curro is not stupid. He understands that father only indulged in his son’s career choice because it puts his son on Swire Key, using Curro as a Cuban flag on Empirical grounds. But he thought he could make a difference; that he could show them. His disapproving family in Havana, and his friends who still call him stupid for not standing safely in his father’s shadow. So being here in the Mountain’s office without being scolded, without a hurricane trying to rip the flag off its post, is raising some red flags.

“Curro, I need you to travel to Havana to report on the parade of the Emperor. I know it is short notice, but see this as an opportunity. I had to pull Eddie out of Havana, the food I guess did not sit good with him”,

Curro knows when to be silent and when to speak. His father’s hard hand taught him that much, but all the hairs in his back are up. He feels like he wants to run and hide in the bushes until the scary monsters pass him by. It does not make any sense to feel this way. This is the break he is waiting for. To go and cover a story. To prove himself, to show Mountain and his father that he can do this. That he can cut it as a reporter. Yes, Havana makes sense, he is from there. Curro wonders if his father influenced this decision or does he not know about it? Curro looks up at Mountain. It does not matter if he is angry or sad or happy, his boss is always a closed book. But Curro doesn't need to read the Mountain's face to know that something is wrong. So, so wrong.

Curro shrugs. “Sure, cool, whatever”, he needs to recuperate from this strategic loss. Regroup his man, send out the scouts. Call the air force. Whatever it takes. “I mean thanks boss, this is a real big opportunity and I am honored... I meant to say, I will not let you down boss.” If he only could figure out what his strategic loss is. Why he is in the valley stuck in the swamp with footmen, pikes, and horses, and why the Mountain is overcrowding the hillsides with archers, sun in the back. Bows drawn, ready for the kill.

Moments later Curro is back at his desk. The corner of his screen jumps to action. All cubicles are silent. Curro never understood that. He tried once with a colleague: “do you not think it is a very unnerving setting for a office that is producing news”, a blank stare was his response. The office is indifferent to his opinion. Humming of the TL-tubes is a given. He waves his hand at the message, which inadvertently unlocks his screen. In the video a bot is explaining to him his travel arrangements and more boring details. When Curro hears the name of the hotel he supposes to stay at some of his earlier anger and anxiety comes back. The bot blabs on and he feels a slight vibration in his wrist. The ticket is uploaded to his bio-chip, but not his ID chip in his neck, it is to be a corporate trip after all.

Time to go to the cloakroom. Located in the damp basement is a small, overly protected warehouse where the correspondents can fetch their predestined needs for any trip. So Curro switches off his screen, decides to not retrieve his useless phone, and shimmies downstairs. There he presents his bio-chip and clicks and clacks behind the triple steel door tell him that the bots are doing their job. Curro is not too sure about the trip and he tries to recall all the words Mountain carefully laid out. He doesn’t buy the story about Eddie, but surely Eddie is not the to-go-guy for information on this. When home he must try get a hold of his father, but first he is forced to focus on the task at hand. A red flashy light tries to scare off an even more annoying siren. A relic robotic voice, probably never replaced for budget reasons or fitting a well-researched psychological pattern to scare people, barks at Curro: “step back behind the yellow line or we will engage”. Curro knows better than to reply, but he thinks: “engage? Engage in what?” He knows now is not the time to experiment, so he steps back behind the yellow line. The door swings open and via an ancient track a flat trolley stops just shy of the door opening. On its surface a back-pack that slides off while the surface inclines. The flashy red lights and the sound of the electro motors make this feel like he is in an old science fiction movie or something, but then the door closes, the lights stop and Curro is alone with that what he needs. He never understood why they call this the cloakroom.

Since his flight is in a few hours there is not time to check the content now, so he fetches the bag and hurries out the building. At B-park a corporate speedboat is waiting, with on its stern a proud display of the Imperial flag. Curro would be in trouble if he would not salute, so he half-heartedly pays his respects. The capitain nods and speeds of. The ride is short and brings him relatively close to his house since they took the shallow route through 3th sw street. Some poor deconstruction guys and steel-trippers still live here and floating pontoons with ladders to the 3rd floor line the houses. Some who did not get a job via the lottery this morning hang out the windows smoking cheap cigarettes staring at the boat and its flag. They do not salute.

The captain directs the plans: “Go fetch some stuff from your apartment, you leave in 30 minutes.”

The boat does not wait for him and when he turns the block into his street he understands why: a botcar is waiting for him. The power is not restored in his block yet and this means no shower, and no phone call to his father. He hopes that he got clearance for a mobile phone connector to his wrist implant, but when he shakes out the content of the bag it is clear that he has to try to call at the airport. The feeling of the morning is growing back. He is late and it feels like he is chasing an elusive shortcut in time. But unlike this morning he is rushed. This morning he rushed himself. Curro stares at the content on the bed. “Think Curro Think”.

Power problems are a constant in Little Havana. Water is a second constant in the dynamic formula of the city. So when Curro opens the blinds for some light to shave he finds that the water comes from the tap as it should. Thank God for that. He smiles as he opens the Bethania shaving cream. On the back a picture of a far relative who opened a macrobiotic store in Havana. The rest is history. Who would have thought that the expansion into natural and organic beauty products would bring his family so much fortune? Father loves mother, Curro does not question that, but if his mother Adelaida had not been the heir to the Bethania empire, he may have settled for someone else. Someone else to pay for his political career. Curro followed the steps carefully as his grandfather had taught him. He wets his face and the brush’s bristles with hot water; he dips the center of the brush in the tin jar of cream. The classical scent of vetiver fills the room as he lathers up the cream. Only a straight razor will do. With trained hands he turns his two-day beard into a smooth surface. The whole ceremony takes 10 precious minutes, but it calms Curro’s mind in the same way as a four-hour meditation session of a Buddhist monk.

He spreads out all items from the bag and tries to deduce some meaning from it. A book with a big red label on it: “Prohibited by the Emperor, special use only. Abuse will be punishable by death”. Barely readable due to sticker size: “English to Spanish to English dictionary”. Curro sighs. A map of Havana of at least 10 years before the Liberation Wars started, and a thick folder with background information about the parade, personal history of the current Emperor (mostly propaganda), and pants and a sweater. Curro is most intrigued by the clothing, but cannot figure it out. Curros packs some clothes, his electronic writing pad, two old fashioned books and his foldable IHAMOD cube for watching some movies or reading books for the long wait to get on the plane. Curro repacks his corporate bag and gets in the botcar.

“Welcome mister Francisco López, I will bring you to Tamiami Airport today. The roads are clear and we will be there in no time.”

The optimistic tone of the bot is not shared with Curro. He looks at the newly build ramp from 3rd avenue onto the Dixie highway. Curro knows better but tries a conversation anyway.

“Why are you bringing me to Tamiami? I thought all traffic to Cuba is conducted by the Suzong International Airport.”

The bot replied with a chipper voice: “Each year on average 200 flights are conducted from Tamiami to Havana which constitutes 2 percent of all flights to Havana”.

Curro grunts and sees they are already following the remains of the old tracks. The demand of steel did slow down the use of trains. He is getting a bit nervous now, they are getting close.

“Do not worry sir”, the bot chippers on, “I can almost see the dikes that shield the airport now”.

It is just that proximity to the airport that feeds Curro’s worries. He rubs his hand over his smooth chin to subconsciously calm himself. To no avail. It is like some of Mountains archers already fired while Curro is staring at the sun and spots of light dance like moths around a light-bulb.

Half an hour later the air-taxi to Havana takes off. The 22 minutes it takes will not give him much time to call his father. The small plane is half full. Luckily corporate seats come with a phone. He calls his father’s office.

“Yeah hallo”, Curro decides to speak English, most likely this call will end up on a RE-FRAM stick on Mountains desk. At least on his desk. It is good not to piss off the wrong people by speaking an official language.

“Hello, yes this is Franciso López Fernández, son of Federico López Famosa, could you get him on the phone?”

“Mmm, aha, yes this is his son and this is urgent. Tell him I am on an air-taxi to Havana right now, yes right now. Ok, yes... I will hold”, Curro squeezes the phone in his hand as if it is a stress ball. Old stale Cubatón Muzak fills his ears and some of the earlier stress of the day is coming back.

“Ola, yes hello father”, it is a miracle. Only 8 minutes on hold. It also means not much time left. “Yes father, you got that right. I am on my way to Havana right now. I will land in 10..12 minutes. Mountain himself send me to report on the Parade”. Curro wishes he could feel more proud of his breakthrough assignment, but strangely enough he does not. Father is silent for a moment. Then instructions follow. Curro listens intently.

“Alright I will do just that. No hotel and I will see you first, yes I know what you mean. Yes, father I understand. No father, under no circumstance. Yes, yes, I will see you soon”.

Curro puts down the phone and a sigh escapes his body. The air-taxi starts its vertical descent. Curro stares out the window with the skyscrapers of Havana in the background. The instructions of father are clear: do not go to the hotel; seek out a trusted face and only get with him in the car to his father’s office when the time is there; do not trust anyone else. Curro was right. Mountain was up to something. Father must know something, why else all these precautions? A few moments later the air-taxi merges with the ground. The noise stops, the movements stop. Cuba. To Curro its been many things, but for now it is a safe place. Home, against all odds.

Curro steps into the airport and the military presence, the green uniforms stand out. He was in the occupied territories long enough to feel awkward in their direct ubiety. Also Spanish is drowning him. It startles a renaissance in Curro, awakes a new identity of an expat returning home. The familiar filtered with new eyes. An old world, a new Cuba. He fetches his bag, and due to the latest in Individual Person Tracking technology Curro can walk out of the airport without problems, while all his movements are documented for the state archives. No chips needed in Cuba.

“IPT is here for you! No more implants, no hassle, we take care of you!”

The billboards are clear. The newest of technologies invented by the Chinese to monitor and control their subjects is a miracle for your personal freedom. Most people are not convinced. Curro wishes he had less chips in his body.

All the flashy billboards distract Curro. He almost misses the familiar face. Curro smiles as he sees Ernesto, a servant of Father from the early days. He missed him in his latest visits. They hug and avoid the string of Asian tourists who are allowed to travel to the Chinese speaking areas of the Centro who houses most of the Barrio Chino, and the English speaking Vieja. The Revolution Square is off limits now due to the preparations of the parade that would take place in only two days.

“How have you been?”, Curro starts and Ernesto smiles while he puts an arm around him, with the other he takes Curro’s bag.

“Havana has missed you, son of the Revolution”, Ernesto always pulls a dramatic feather from his sleeve. “Come I bring you where you will dine and sleep tonight, where we lay your bag to rest, and we will take something a little wet at La Rosa so you can fill me in on what a dump you live in. You cannot believe some of the technology the Chinese are bringing in the last few years you were gone.”

“Father is ok with that?”

Ernesto shrugs his shoulders. He is older that Curro, halfway between him and his father’s age. To Curro he was an older brother, but now he was wondering if Ernesto had felt the same.

“Your father has done great things for Cuba, but I feel he needs to remember sometimes who gave all that to him. Anyway, we can talk shop later, after the parade. I cannot believe that Currocico is now to report on the great Parade. You know this is the first parade of the Emperor outside of China for 3 generations? Well of course you do! If you did your homework.”

Outside Ernesto mouths “taxi” while standing on the curb and seconds later a cab pulls up, “you gotta love that IPT”. Curro blinks and looks back at the airport and the ease of it all. Again his senses tell him not to follow, not to step into the taxi. Ernesto sticks his head out the door, “are you coming or what?” The sun hits Curro in the eyes and almost he hears the battlefield, almost he can smell the sweat, the horses, the iron smell of blood, mud, and trampled grass. A horn wakes him up; the next taxi wants the spot. Curro gets in.

Hotel, a fine meal of yuca con mojo, and mojitos follow that Ernesto had promised. Then they head to La Rosa, a tavern where Curro spend many nights trying to avoid the responsibilities his father though his son needed to have. Many nights it was Ernesto who brought him home, if Curro did not find the temporary love of his life. La Rosa. At the moment Curro opens the door if floods back in. The colors, the smells, and the fine feminine Cuban asses, for sure this is destiny. A divine plan. In true renaissance style Curro finds old habits in a new era of insight and wisdom. The front line pulls back, the stale smell of fear in the air is gone. In his mind he envisions a pavilion tent and a treaty is to be signed between Curro and the Mountain. The parade is far, far away. Plenty of time to report on it after he will meet his father tomorrow. Ernesto laid out all the plans. Curro gets piss-drunk in no time.

##

Curro wakes up on his stomach, under his face a damaged concrete floor and its broken pieces. He blinks to see that he is not in his room. Air flows over him, Curro is shivering, despite the warmth that drips in through the hole in the wall. Dry rot clings on to the last pieces of the windowsill. The smell is horrible. Curro rolls over and wipes some vomit off his face, of his sleeve and gets up. Curro stumbles, his knees are weak. His stomach turns and from deep comes some horrid bile. The bitter, green slime as it splatters on the floor is almost too much for his stomach to bare, but he can hold the rest in. Curro steps blinking into the sunlight towards the open window for some air. He trips over something and lands with his chin on the windowsill, which snaps off. The taste of blood fills his mouth, though nauseating, it is an improvement of the bile taste.

Curro touches his chin. “Fuck that hurts”, his hand is full of blood. His chin is split. Next to him his corporate bag, minus the clothes that he got from the cloakroom. He is wearing them. “What the ...”. Then it dawns on Curro. He is not in Miami, he is in Havana, and he is having the worst hangover. Ever. In the history of hangovers. His head is pounding and he needs to know where he is. So he gets up slowly. Sounds from outside are dripping in. Curro is getting his senses back and when he holds his hand over his eyes he is stumped. From his location he could see the Tulipan. He is not facing the Avenida Revolucionaria, but he can see it. He can hear it. The Parade. Curro shakes his head as a cow flinging off flies that never leave. Before him is the parade. “Two days, I lost two days?, Curro’s mind is dull, his chin is pounding and still dripping blood. His clothes are filthy. No shower in 4 days, vomit, bile, and mold. The morning sun plays in his eyes. Visions of the battlefield come back. There never was a treaty, it was an ambush. Foul play. The Mountain never ordered his men to leave the higher grounds. Next to archers Curro now finds cannons. Outnumbered 20 to 1, just a handful of friends next to him.

Then the shots come. Sharp like lightning directly overhead. First one, followed by 2. Seconds later a final one. Due to his unique vantage point Curro oversees the death of the Emperor as the Great Leader drives by, now slumping over in his Empirical Wagon. Screams in the street. People run by away from the scene. Military green, red on the shoulders. Imperial guards run up as well. No! It can’t be. Spidey sense is going crazy and before Curro can fathom anything, but just enough to want to get the hell out of here, just then it is over. The door is kicked in. Chinese Imperial guards, local police and Ernesto in Cuban uniform form half a circle. Guns are on him. The last man standing on the mud fields of Mountain’s battlefield is already dead. Curro puts his hands up.

Ernesto points at him, “Yes, that is him. López’s own son. I would not belief it if I did not see it with my own eyes. He did it, he killed him!”

Curro’s knees fail to work and he falls to the ground. He never did get away from his father’s shadow after all.

(c) Casteleijn MG. 2014-2017

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Trident Media Group is the leading U.S. literary agency and we are looking to discover and represent the next bestsellers. Share a sample of your work. If it shows promise, we will be in touch with you.
Written by casteleijn in portal Trident Media Group
The magic city
Chapter 3 of "The Death of an Emperor", a set of vignettes unraveling the mystery.

The bright sun washes out the colors, even the trees look bleached through Curro’s squinting eyes. It is one of those mornings. One of those mornings that everything starts late. Power interruptions, both alarm clocks failing, milk gone sour. Interrupted communications error, some network down, no way to let the office know. One of those mornings playing catch-up. Scramble, hurry, and stub a toe. No power also means no steam cleaning this morning, “Why did I not get an apartment with an old fashioned water shower”, Curro’s close mouthed curses are hidden sounds; the city outside came to life hours ago.

Moments later Curro is on the sidewalk dusting of his clothes after he missed a couple of steps on the way down the stairs. In Curro’s hands the sad remains of his sunglasses, so to get some placebo relieve of the heat and blazing sun he crosses the street. He looks back to his apartment building free from the grip of the palm tree-shadows. The faintest memory of its original color is hinting at a pink hue, the raised letters barely read MACONA with some unreadable symbols underneath it. Curro starts reliving his inane quest to retell the story behind the name. It was his curiosity and his love of telling stories that led him to become a reporter, and young as he was he thought it would make a nice story. Quickly he found out that storytelling by the Xīnwén Network of Imperial Glory, or simply the Network, is a political game. Political games he tried to escape when he left Havana. It was shot down, especially after they found out he already spend some money on the investigations.

Curro shakes his head. He is late, and there is no way he can make it to the XNIG corporate ferry in time. So he jogs slowly down sw 6th street, towards the glitter of water between the abandoned buildings that still stand along the 6th courtyard on his left. He hopes to find some illegal water taxi at 5th and 4th to take him down the river to Swire Key to go around the isle to the B-park. He is lucky. One older man, a Haitian to hear from his accent has just sold all his patties and frescos, and is willing for a steep rate to bring Curro to work. Curro curses under his breath, he really does not need this right now. The last thing he needs is to call father again for more money. Water and bread the rest of the week it seems. The boat trip is apart from the humming of the engine, peaceful. Left desolate buildings stand in the water until they hit the river proper and the increased speed bring a bit of cooling on this hot day. After rounding the point the Haitian cuts in front of the isle, more that 4 feet of water is standing over the old bridge now, more than enough for the small flat boat to approach the park from the west. Most of the tall Brickell buildings are gone now, recycled for its steel, mainly to elevate I95. Still the aorta for the city. If the flow stops, the magic dies.

Sweat is dripping down his back when Curro pays the man and finds his way to the checkpoint. Swire Key is Imperial territory from the day of occupancy, and the Key was owned by Chinese corporate head-figures long before then. Curro chooses this checkpoint over the Brickell-Point since only Imperial Card Holders are allowed to enter via B-park. His choice is right, not many people are entering at this time through the gate, although he does see the large silhouette of his boss at the front of the line. Quickly he ducks down to tighten his shoe lace and avoids being seen. His name will be on the list of late entries anyway, but it is a psychological thing. Curro curses the power outage in his building. Curses from Swire Key are dangerous spells. When the scanner notices the biodegradable implant under his wrist the screen turns green: “Franciso López Fernández, ICH, Havana”. The guards let him in, and Curro sighs as he counts the 49 steps up to the main entrance of the XNIG headquarters in the Americas. Every day these steps, these cogwheels of a corporate lucky charm take the fun out of reporting.

First things first: coffee. A strong brew and then messages: none. “Mmm is that good or bad”, he mumbles. Others ignore his mumbling habits. He did miss a meeting though. The spirits lift a bit after the coffee and being engulfed in airco-air. So he calls, again to the power company. Who direct him to his landlord, who directs him to the block curator. The dick.

“Twenty-eight-minutes. Twenty-eight. Oh, oh, oh, wait for it! Click. Twenty-nine-minutes. On hold.” The science of Muzak calms no-one, especially after twenty-nine-minutes of sweaty intimate moments with a mobile phone. Curro sighs, hate is a weak word for the feeling inside. It is more an explosive, infinite annoyance of supernova quality. From his neck protrudes his nervous tick. His tick is an obviously trained public speaker. With Shakespearean acting skills it draws the people in, to deliver the punch lines in the most prominent way. Just to make sure his co-workers get the proper translation Curro hits his hand flat on the desk, a sign of loss. A loss of control, of time and nerve. A look from another booth gets his answer: “why can these companies just pick up the phone or call me back... yeah hallo, hallo, fu...” and a grunt.

Curro is about the fling his phone through his standard issue “Interactive Holographic Active Matrix Organic Droplet”-screen”. Of course the nebulizer may get it, most likely another phone will be added to his expense sheet.

Sure enough. Curro’s IHAMOD comes to life as if to protest its earlier promise of an assault. It shows a picture of the large round face his boss, under it scrolls the message:

“[INSERT NAME] is requested to come to the office of the executive producer who is waiting for you. Bless the Emperor. May his heart full of light guide you through this day.”

Another harmless phone is saved. For now. Curro’s hand over the console pauses the image. Insert name? Curro is still fuming, but a silent heat-like boiling anger takes over so he slips his phone into his drink to silently protest all injustice done to him today, then he gets up to see why he is summoned. Either because he was late or those damn expense sheets. Insert name? Curro’s manicurial habit saves his palms from some bloody wounds. Then the ominous door of the executive producer swings open, while Curro tight fists slowly open like a fern unfurling in sweet morning rain. But Curro’s rain is black, thick and a toxic acid this morning. The silhouette blocks the streams of real-light that wants to intrude in TL-tube land. Some people blink. Time to go. He hopes it because he is late. If he gets chided again for his excessive expense sheets he needs to find another job. Curro has all the receipts somewhere, and an excuse for all of them. Now more people look out of their cubicles. Curiosity is a scared animal. He stands up slowly, gives a last look at his sad phone floating in his drink and with a light tread tries to calm himself after not talking to the block curator to not get his electrical problems fixed. Now he hopes he will not not keep his job. A day of everything starting late progresses nicely into a day of getting nothing done.

Curro comes face to face with the executive producer. The mountain they call him, for obvious reasons, but also because he is an extension of the Emperor: a symbol of stability and of the Earth itself. The mountain grins, “please come in and take a seat”. The moment Curro steps over the threshold, his spidey senses tingle. Curro feels it. Sometimes, he compares himself to a spider, a made-up hero from a long forgotten past. Nobody gets Curro’s jokes. He sits, the mountain stands in front of his desk. The roles are clear. So he waits for the mountain turns to volcano, yet a smile graces the face of his boss. Panic strikes Curro now. This is way worse than he could ever imagine.

He has read the reports from the illegal Spanish newspapers sold next door. The language is banned for decades now, a decree of the prior Emperor still strongly enforced. In little Havana many still speak it daily though and in Cuba news and newspapers are more openly defiant. Last week a headline in the Havana Post: “Federico López Famosa proposes changes in the trade agreements” and last month: “Strict regulations from our Glorious Leader dim the economy”. Something is brewing and it is clear that his father is a big part of it. Curro is not stupid. He understands that father only indulged in his son’s career choice because it puts his son on Swire Key, using Curro as a Cuban flag on Empirical grounds. But he thought he could make a difference; that he could show them. His disapproving family in Havana, and his friends who still call him stupid for not standing safely in his father’s shadow. So being here in the Mountain’s office without being scolded, without a hurricane trying to rip the flag off its post, is raising some red flags.

“Curro, I need you to travel to Havana to report on the parade of the Emperor. I know it is short notice, but see this as an opportunity. I had to pull Eddie out of Havana, the food I guess did not sit good with him”,

Curro knows when to be silent and when to speak. His father’s hard hand taught him that much, but all the hairs in his back are up. He feels like he wants to run and hide in the bushes until the scary monsters pass him by. It does not make any sense to feel this way. This is the break he is waiting for. To go and cover a story. To prove himself, to show Mountain and his father that he can do this. That he can cut it as a reporter. Yes, Havana makes sense, he is from there. Curro wonders if his father influenced this decision or does he not know about it? Curro looks up at Mountain. It does not matter if he is angry or sad or happy, his boss is always a closed book. But Curro doesn't need to read the Mountain's face to know that something is wrong. So, so wrong.

Curro shrugs. “Sure, cool, whatever”, he needs to recuperate from this strategic loss. Regroup his man, send out the scouts. Call the air force. Whatever it takes. “I mean thanks boss, this is a real big opportunity and I am honored... I meant to say, I will not let you down boss.” If he only could figure out what his strategic loss is. Why he is in the valley stuck in the swamp with footmen, pikes, and horses, and why the Mountain is overcrowding the hillsides with archers, sun in the back. Bows drawn, ready for the kill.

Moments later Curro is back at his desk. The corner of his screen jumps to action. All cubicles are silent. Curro never understood that. He tried once with a colleague: “do you not think it is a very unnerving setting for a office that is producing news”, a blank stare was his response. The office is indifferent to his opinion. Humming of the TL-tubes is a given. He waves his hand at the message, which inadvertently unlocks his screen. In the video a bot is explaining to him his travel arrangements and more boring details. When Curro hears the name of the hotel he supposes to stay at some of his earlier anger and anxiety comes back. The bot blabs on and he feels a slight vibration in his wrist. The ticket is uploaded to his bio-chip, but not his ID chip in his neck, it is to be a corporate trip after all.

Time to go to the cloakroom. Located in the damp basement is a small, overly protected warehouse where the correspondents can fetch their predestined needs for any trip. So Curro switches off his screen, decides to not retrieve his useless phone, and shimmies downstairs. There he presents his bio-chip and clicks and clacks behind the triple steel door tell him that the bots are doing their job. Curro is not too sure about the trip and he tries to recall all the words Mountain carefully laid out. He doesn’t buy the story about Eddie, but surely Eddie is not the to-go-guy for information on this. When home he must try get a hold of his father, but first he is forced to focus on the task at hand. A red flashy light tries to scare off an even more annoying siren. A relic robotic voice, probably never replaced for budget reasons or fitting a well-researched psychological pattern to scare people, barks at Curro: “step back behind the yellow line or we will engage”. Curro knows better than to reply, but he thinks: “engage? Engage in what?” He knows now is not the time to experiment, so he steps back behind the yellow line. The door swings open and via an ancient track a flat trolley stops just shy of the door opening. On its surface a back-pack that slides off while the surface inclines. The flashy red lights and the sound of the electro motors make this feel like he is in an old science fiction movie or something, but then the door closes, the lights stop and Curro is alone with that what he needs. He never understood why they call this the cloakroom.

Since his flight is in a few hours there is not time to check the content now, so he fetches the bag and hurries out the building. At B-park a corporate speedboat is waiting, with on its stern a proud display of the Imperial flag. Curro would be in trouble if he would not salute, so he half-heartedly pays his respects. The capitain nods and speeds of. The ride is short and brings him relatively close to his house since they took the shallow route through 3th sw street. Some poor deconstruction guys and steel-trippers still live here and floating pontoons with ladders to the 3rd floor line the houses. Some who did not get a job via the lottery this morning hang out the windows smoking cheap cigarettes staring at the boat and its flag. They do not salute.

The captain directs the plans: “Go fetch some stuff from your apartment, you leave in 30 minutes.”

The boat does not wait for him and when he turns the block into his street he understands why: a botcar is waiting for him. The power is not restored in his block yet and this means no shower, and no phone call to his father. He hopes that he got clearance for a mobile phone connector to his wrist implant, but when he shakes out the content of the bag it is clear that he has to try to call at the airport. The feeling of the morning is growing back. He is late and it feels like he is chasing an elusive shortcut in time. But unlike this morning he is rushed. This morning he rushed himself. Curro stares at the content on the bed. “Think Curro Think”.

Power problems are a constant in Little Havana. Water is a second constant in the dynamic formula of the city. So when Curro opens the blinds for some light to shave he finds that the water comes from the tap as it should. Thank God for that. He smiles as he opens the Bethania shaving cream. On the back a picture of a far relative who opened a macrobiotic store in Havana. The rest is history. Who would have thought that the expansion into natural and organic beauty products would bring his family so much fortune? Father loves mother, Curro does not question that, but if his mother Adelaida had not been the heir to the Bethania empire, he may have settled for someone else. Someone else to pay for his political career. Curro followed the steps carefully as his grandfather had taught him. He wets his face and the brush’s bristles with hot water; he dips the center of the brush in the tin jar of cream. The classical scent of vetiver fills the room as he lathers up the cream. Only a straight razor will do. With trained hands he turns his two-day beard into a smooth surface. The whole ceremony takes 10 precious minutes, but it calms Curro’s mind in the same way as a four-hour meditation session of a Buddhist monk.

He spreads out all items from the bag and tries to deduce some meaning from it. A book with a big red label on it: “Prohibited by the Emperor, special use only. Abuse will be punishable by death”. Barely readable due to sticker size: “English to Spanish to English dictionary”. Curro sighs. A map of Havana of at least 10 years before the Liberation Wars started, and a thick folder with background information about the parade, personal history of the current Emperor (mostly propaganda), and pants and a sweater. Curro is most intrigued by the clothing, but cannot figure it out. Curros packs some clothes, his electronic writing pad, two old fashioned books and his foldable IHAMOD cube for watching some movies or reading books for the long wait to get on the plane. Curro repacks his corporate bag and gets in the botcar.

“Welcome mister Francisco López, I will bring you to Tamiami Airport today. The roads are clear and we will be there in no time.”

The optimistic tone of the bot is not shared with Curro. He looks at the newly build ramp from 3rd avenue onto the Dixie highway. Curro knows better but tries a conversation anyway.

“Why are you bringing me to Tamiami? I thought all traffic to Cuba is conducted by the Suzong International Airport.”

The bot replied with a chipper voice: “Each year on average 200 flights are conducted from Tamiami to Havana which constitutes 2 percent of all flights to Havana”.

Curro grunts and sees they are already following the remains of the old tracks. The demand of steel did slow down the use of trains. He is getting a bit nervous now, they are getting close.

“Do not worry sir”, the bot chippers on, “I can almost see the dikes that shield the airport now”.

It is just that proximity to the airport that feeds Curro’s worries. He rubs his hand over his smooth chin to subconsciously calm himself. To no avail. It is like some of Mountains archers already fired while Curro is staring at the sun and spots of light dance like moths around a light-bulb.

Half an hour later the air-taxi to Havana takes off. The 22 minutes it takes will not give him much time to call his father. The small plane is half full. Luckily corporate seats come with a phone. He calls his father’s office.

“Yeah hallo”, Curro decides to speak English, most likely this call will end up on a RE-FRAM stick on Mountains desk. At least on his desk. It is good not to piss off the wrong people by speaking an official language.

“Hello, yes this is Franciso López Fernández, son of Federico López Famosa, could you get him on the phone?”

“Mmm, aha, yes this is his son and this is urgent. Tell him I am on an air-taxi to Havana right now, yes right now. Ok, yes... I will hold”, Curro squeezes the phone in his hand as if it is a stress ball. Old stale Cubatón Muzak fills his ears and some of the earlier stress of the day is coming back.

“Ola, yes hello father”, it is a miracle. Only 8 minutes on hold. It also means not much time left. “Yes father, you got that right. I am on my way to Havana right now. I will land in 10..12 minutes. Mountain himself send me to report on the Parade”. Curro wishes he could feel more proud of his breakthrough assignment, but strangely enough he does not. Father is silent for a moment. Then instructions follow. Curro listens intently.

“Alright I will do just that. No hotel and I will see you first, yes I know what you mean. Yes, father I understand. No father, under no circumstance. Yes, yes, I will see you soon”.

Curro puts down the phone and a sigh escapes his body. The air-taxi starts its vertical descent. Curro stares out the window with the skyscrapers of Havana in the background. The instructions of father are clear: do not go to the hotel; seek out a trusted face and only get with him in the car to his father’s office when the time is there; do not trust anyone else. Curro was right. Mountain was up to something. Father must know something, why else all these precautions? A few moments later the air-taxi merges with the ground. The noise stops, the movements stop. Cuba. To Curro its been many things, but for now it is a safe place. Home, against all odds.

Curro steps into the airport and the military presence, the green uniforms stand out. He was in the occupied territories long enough to feel awkward in their direct ubiety. Also Spanish is drowning him. It startles a renaissance in Curro, awakes a new identity of an expat returning home. The familiar filtered with new eyes. An old world, a new Cuba. He fetches his bag, and due to the latest in Individual Person Tracking technology Curro can walk out of the airport without problems, while all his movements are documented for the state archives. No chips needed in Cuba.

“IPT is here for you! No more implants, no hassle, we take care of you!”

The billboards are clear. The newest of technologies invented by the Chinese to monitor and control their subjects is a miracle for your personal freedom. Most people are not convinced. Curro wishes he had less chips in his body.

All the flashy billboards distract Curro. He almost misses the familiar face. Curro smiles as he sees Ernesto, a servant of Father from the early days. He missed him in his latest visits. They hug and avoid the string of Asian tourists who are allowed to travel to the Chinese speaking areas of the Centro who houses most of the Barrio Chino, and the English speaking Vieja. The Revolution Square is off limits now due to the preparations of the parade that would take place in only two days.

“How have you been?”, Curro starts and Ernesto smiles while he puts an arm around him, with the other he takes Curro’s bag.

“Havana has missed you, son of the Revolution”, Ernesto always pulls a dramatic feather from his sleeve. “Come I bring you where you will dine and sleep tonight, where we lay your bag to rest, and we will take something a little wet at La Rosa so you can fill me in on what a dump you live in. You cannot believe some of the technology the Chinese are bringing in the last few years you were gone.”

“Father is ok with that?”

Ernesto shrugs his shoulders. He is older that Curro, halfway between him and his father’s age. To Curro he was an older brother, but now he was wondering if Ernesto had felt the same.

“Your father has done great things for Cuba, but I feel he needs to remember sometimes who gave all that to him. Anyway, we can talk shop later, after the parade. I cannot believe that Currocico is now to report on the great Parade. You know this is the first parade of the Emperor outside of China for 3 generations? Well of course you do! If you did your homework.”

Outside Ernesto mouths “taxi” while standing on the curb and seconds later a cab pulls up, “you gotta love that IPT”. Curro blinks and looks back at the airport and the ease of it all. Again his senses tell him not to follow, not to step into the taxi. Ernesto sticks his head out the door, “are you coming or what?” The sun hits Curro in the eyes and almost he hears the battlefield, almost he can smell the sweat, the horses, the iron smell of blood, mud, and trampled grass. A horn wakes him up; the next taxi wants the spot. Curro gets in.

Hotel, a fine meal of yuca con mojo, and mojitos follow that Ernesto had promised. Then they head to La Rosa, a tavern where Curro spend many nights trying to avoid the responsibilities his father though his son needed to have. Many nights it was Ernesto who brought him home, if Curro did not find the temporary love of his life. La Rosa. At the moment Curro opens the door if floods back in. The colors, the smells, and the fine feminine Cuban asses, for sure this is destiny. A divine plan. In true renaissance style Curro finds old habits in a new era of insight and wisdom. The front line pulls back, the stale smell of fear in the air is gone. In his mind he envisions a pavilion tent and a treaty is to be signed between Curro and the Mountain. The parade is far, far away. Plenty of time to report on it after he will meet his father tomorrow. Ernesto laid out all the plans. Curro gets piss-drunk in no time.

##

Curro wakes up on his stomach, under his face a damaged concrete floor and its broken pieces. He blinks to see that he is not in his room. Air flows over him, Curro is shivering, despite the warmth that drips in through the hole in the wall. Dry rot clings on to the last pieces of the windowsill. The smell is horrible. Curro rolls over and wipes some vomit off his face, of his sleeve and gets up. Curro stumbles, his knees are weak. His stomach turns and from deep comes some horrid bile. The bitter, green slime as it splatters on the floor is almost too much for his stomach to bare, but he can hold the rest in. Curro steps blinking into the sunlight towards the open window for some air. He trips over something and lands with his chin on the windowsill, which snaps off. The taste of blood fills his mouth, though nauseating, it is an improvement of the bile taste.

Curro touches his chin. “Fuck that hurts”, his hand is full of blood. His chin is split. Next to him his corporate bag, minus the clothes that he got from the cloakroom. He is wearing them. “What the ...”. Then it dawns on Curro. He is not in Miami, he is in Havana, and he is having the worst hangover. Ever. In the history of hangovers. His head is pounding and he needs to know where he is. So he gets up slowly. Sounds from outside are dripping in. Curro is getting his senses back and when he holds his hand over his eyes he is stumped. From his location he could see the Tulipan. He is not facing the Avenida Revolucionaria, but he can see it. He can hear it. The Parade. Curro shakes his head as a cow flinging off flies that never leave. Before him is the parade. “Two days, I lost two days?, Curro’s mind is dull, his chin is pounding and still dripping blood. His clothes are filthy. No shower in 4 days, vomit, bile, and mold. The morning sun plays in his eyes. Visions of the battlefield come back. There never was a treaty, it was an ambush. Foul play. The Mountain never ordered his men to leave the higher grounds. Next to archers Curro now finds cannons. Outnumbered 20 to 1, just a handful of friends next to him.

Then the shots come. Sharp like lightning directly overhead. First one, followed by 2. Seconds later a final one. Due to his unique vantage point Curro oversees the death of the Emperor as the Great Leader drives by, now slumping over in his Empirical Wagon. Screams in the street. People run by away from the scene. Military green, red on the shoulders. Imperial guards run up as well. No! It can’t be. Spidey sense is going crazy and before Curro can fathom anything, but just enough to want to get the hell out of here, just then it is over. The door is kicked in. Chinese Imperial guards, local police and Ernesto in Cuban uniform form half a circle. Guns are on him. The last man standing on the mud fields of Mountain’s battlefield is already dead. Curro puts his hands up.

Ernesto points at him, “Yes, that is him. López’s own son. I would not belief it if I did not see it with my own eyes. He did it, he killed him!”

Curro’s knees fail to work and he falls to the ground. He never did get away from his father’s shadow after all.

(c) Casteleijn MG. 2014-2017




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Simon & Schuster is one of the world’s leading publishers and we are always looking for fresh new voices. Write a story, chapter, or essay about whatever you like. The 50 best entries will be announced by Prose and read by our editorial staff for consideration.
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Simon & Schuster is one of the world’s leading publishers and we are always looking for fresh new voices. Write a story, chapter, or essay about whatever you like. The 50 best entries will be announced by Prose and read by our editorial staff for consideration.
Written by casteleijn in portal Simon & Schuster
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#scifi  #fiction  #mystery 
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ProseChallenge #67: Write a poem about grief.
Written by casteleijn

A short footing

Wood meets brick on the oddest angle

vested between: a sprig, anomalous anticipation.

I stare hours at a trickle, an osmotic feed,

As I hide along in the atmospheric shade.

I reopen this angle and bend it to my brain,

as I return and measure all of it to feel its 

weight. We see the shadows shorten, stretch 

out, turn our heads and blend our fears. 

Stuff we always did.

Sunlight swells, snuffed by a transient cloud

polishing up the chrome chair, stock of my void.

The hidden sight of thoughts sighs of only prospects,

accepted infinity is lawless, yet I hide here with my friend.

Slowly we wave in the wind, waiting for only a hint of it.

Cursing at the snow that only fell yesterday, ages ago.

Only that morning the harsh need for cleanliness, sterile

drifts for empty spaces, the Gardener rips it out.

Leaving a clean angle, an empty chair, a lawless game of chess.

I fold a small note to my love, who never came and never came back.

I drive it deep between the wood and the brick, arid ground

for loving friends, as time passes, and the clouds roll in to

bring only greys on greys and days of flickering snow…

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ProseChallenge #67: Write a poem about grief.
Written by casteleijn
A short footing
Wood meets brick on the oddest angle
vested between: a sprig, anomalous anticipation.
I stare hours at a trickle, an osmotic feed,
As I hide along in the atmospheric shade.

I reopen this angle and bend it to my brain,
as I return and measure all of it to feel its 
weight. We see the shadows shorten, stretch 
out, turn our heads and blend our fears. 

Stuff we always did.

Sunlight swells, snuffed by a transient cloud
polishing up the chrome chair, stock of my void.
The hidden sight of thoughts sighs of only prospects,
accepted infinity is lawless, yet I hide here with my friend.

Slowly we wave in the wind, waiting for only a hint of it.
Cursing at the snow that only fell yesterday, ages ago.
Only that morning the harsh need for cleanliness, sterile
drifts for empty spaces, the Gardener rips it out.

Leaving a clean angle, an empty chair, a lawless game of chess.

I fold a small note to my love, who never came and never came back.
I drive it deep between the wood and the brick, arid ground
for loving friends, as time passes, and the clouds roll in to
bring only greys on greys and days of flickering snow…


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Juice
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Written by casteleijn in portal Stream of Consciousness

A short footing

Wood meets brick on the oddest angle

vested between: a sprig, anomalous anticipation.

I stare hours at a trickle, an osmotic feed,

As I hide along in the atmospheric shade.

Sunlight swells, snuffed by a transient cloud

polishing up the chrome chair, stock of my void.

The hidden sight of thoughts sighs of only prospects,

accepted infinity is lawless, yet I hide here with my friend.

Slowly we wave in the wind, waiting for only a hint of it.

Cursing at the snow that only fell yesterday, ages ago.

Only that morning the harsh need for cleanliness, sterile

drifts for empty spaces, the Gardener rips it out.

Leaving a clean angle, an empty chair, a lawless game of chess.

I fold a small note to my love, who never came and never came back.

I drive it deep between the wood and the brick, arid ground

for loving friends, as time passes, and the clouds roll in to

bring only greys on greys and days of flickering snow…

(c) Casteleijn MG 2017

7
2
0
Juice
71 reads
Donate coins to casteleijn.
Juice
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Written by casteleijn in portal Stream of Consciousness
A short footing
Wood meets brick on the oddest angle
vested between: a sprig, anomalous anticipation.
I stare hours at a trickle, an osmotic feed,
As I hide along in the atmospheric shade.

Sunlight swells, snuffed by a transient cloud
polishing up the chrome chair, stock of my void.
The hidden sight of thoughts sighs of only prospects,
accepted infinity is lawless, yet I hide here with my friend.

Slowly we wave in the wind, waiting for only a hint of it.
Cursing at the snow that only fell yesterday, ages ago.
Only that morning the harsh need for cleanliness, sterile
drifts for empty spaces, the Gardener rips it out.

Leaving a clean angle, an empty chair, a lawless game of chess.

I fold a small note to my love, who never came and never came back.
I drive it deep between the wood and the brick, arid ground
for loving friends, as time passes, and the clouds roll in to
bring only greys on greys and days of flickering snow…

(c) Casteleijn MG 2017

7
2
0
Juice
71 reads
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This is a time of darkness, a time of despair, a time of chaos. It is the end of days, where God turns a blind eye and the Hell is turned into a frozen wasteland. It is the time everyone fears. Your future depends on this moment. In 100 words or less, write about the most dreaded time of our lives... Finals Week! AAAAAAAHHH!
Written by casteleijn in portal Horror & Thriller

Messiah at the End of Time

These are the times that stars explode

These are the hours of weeping

The times the gates of chaos open

From the eye of terror the heresy has come

The unfolding of the eldest plan of time

As one man carries all burden of life

He doesn’t understand this unwritten rhyme

“Why, why this failure, why this Golgotha?”

In burning pain he shouts the ancient line

“My god why has thou forsaken me?”

Standing at the beginning of nothing

The messiah at the end of time

The answers come, the silence roars

As he knows why, he fades out…

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This is a time of darkness, a time of despair, a time of chaos. It is the end of days, where God turns a blind eye and the Hell is turned into a frozen wasteland. It is the time everyone fears. Your future depends on this moment. In 100 words or less, write about the most dreaded time of our lives... Finals Week! AAAAAAAHHH!
Written by casteleijn in portal Horror & Thriller
Messiah at the End of Time
These are the times that stars explode
These are the hours of weeping
The times the gates of chaos open

From the eye of terror the heresy has come
The unfolding of the eldest plan of time
As one man carries all burden of life
He doesn’t understand this unwritten rhyme

“Why, why this failure, why this Golgotha?”
In burning pain he shouts the ancient line
“My god why has thou forsaken me?”
Standing at the beginning of nothing
The messiah at the end of time

The answers come, the silence roars
As he knows why, he fades out…


6
2
9
Juice
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Juice
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Love Poem Challenge - Let's Test The New Challenge Abilities
Written by casteleijn in portal Poetry & Free Verse

Apprehension

Through wrought vines glimpses seduction    

at leaflets. Twigs of the purest frailty

subsist unknowingly. Hanging in the wind,

floating on the fresh current of impression

so lost, not knowing. So blinded by purity.

Moments of innocence, moments before the hint

of corruption. Daydreaming in a balanced state.

Was it salvation’s inquiry for vindication or crime

that brought us the immortal sin, that insightful glint

which crumbled down the avalanche at alarming rate?

Unfair to be brought to this malignant time

where the Whimsical with arrows gold or lead

bents its bow to hurt the innocent and green. 

Unfair to liberate the tension, to define

without sense, ignorant bliss or mournful dread.

Through leaflets and branches I was seen

by eyes of the purest clarity, subsisting unknowingly

of my trembling apprehension. A hazel innuendo

prize impaled me, I forgot all I’ve ever been. 

Sad to be so lost, so fallen. Consciously.

7
2
2
Juice
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Juice
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Love Poem Challenge - Let's Test The New Challenge Abilities
Written by casteleijn in portal Poetry & Free Verse
Apprehension
Through wrought vines glimpses seduction    
at leaflets. Twigs of the purest frailty
subsist unknowingly. Hanging in the wind,
floating on the fresh current of impression
so lost, not knowing. So blinded by purity.

Moments of innocence, moments before the hint
of corruption. Daydreaming in a balanced state.
Was it salvation’s inquiry for vindication or crime
that brought us the immortal sin, that insightful glint
which crumbled down the avalanche at alarming rate?

Unfair to be brought to this malignant time
where the Whimsical with arrows gold or lead
bents its bow to hurt the innocent and green. 
Unfair to liberate the tension, to define
without sense, ignorant bliss or mournful dread.

Through leaflets and branches I was seen
by eyes of the purest clarity, subsisting unknowingly
of my trembling apprehension. A hazel innuendo
prize impaled me, I forgot all I’ve ever been. 
Sad to be so lost, so fallen. Consciously.




7
2
2
Juice
47 reads
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Juice
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In 15 words tell me why you write
Written by casteleijn

Alternative realities...

A utopian attempt to translate my feelings one-to-one, in harmony, with the reader. Perfect communication.

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In 15 words tell me why you write
Written by casteleijn
Alternative realities...
A utopian attempt to translate my feelings one-to-one, in harmony, with the reader. Perfect communication.
2
0
0
Juice
23 reads
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To celebrate the release of my new book, I am inviting you all to participate in a contest. The concept: Explore a person's struggle to come to terms with a strange, sinister, or surreal reality. This is a broad theme to encourage you to be as creative as you choose. Flash and full length stories welcome in horror, fantasy, surreal, or any hybrid genres. The only rule: Prose fiction only. Three winners will be chosen, who will receive 2000, 1000, or 500 coins + a signed copy of my collection.
Written by casteleijn in portal Fiction

Mudfish

The city pulls me in as I flop around like a mudfish without my protective mucus in the growing sun. I lie flat on my stomach and am puzzled. The graffiti on the side of the transformer house puzzles me: “Jail.” Why am I even here?

I just came from the forest. I know that I never was doubtful, it taught me that. I know I remember the things I recognize, I know I dream my comparisons, I know life is not real. I know everything just happens. Yet here I am staring at this.

So I get up and cross the road. My bare feet on the black cold asphalt is a shrill contrast to the desert sand I left before I entered the forest. Before I entered the city. Yet it does not speak to me. It is as dead as the sky.

In the bus stop sits a young woman. Her white dreadlocks are tied in a bun on her head, a piece of metal through the top of her nose. She smokes a cigarette while her eyes dart over the concrete in front of her. In her frailty lies strength; she was broken before. She fixed it herself. She knows that my lingering stare is on her, yet she does not heed me. A tremor filled with noise and dark smoke propels a tin box alongside us. So much traffic at such an early hour. I shudder. I made the forest my own, the city will take me if I do not learn fast.

“What does that mean?”

The girl ignores my question.

“What does that mean?”

She looks up with a short glance. She squints against the bright light and follows my pointing finger. She shrugs.

“Why is that a Jail?”

She tilts her head now, hails the next bus while she gets up and flicks her cigarette in the street. When she passes me she whispers my first lesson.

“You know nothing of the wizards, go back from where you came.”

Before I can reply I am alone. At least in the forest I learned how to connect. Here is nothing to connect with. So I walk to the transformation house. It drew me in, it has to mean something. The large wooden box in front of it can open. I check its content and it is filled with tiny stones. Then I circle the building. Each side is marked with white words: Jail. Then I am back at the box. My corner of my eye catches movement. A man walks from some apartments to the bus stop through a small wooded area straight towards me. He is fox like, silent he moves.

“Hey, why is there no door in this building?” It really makes me wonder.

The man looks at me. My heart skips a beat as a deep vibration moves through my belly. Yellow are his eyes, his tongue forked, tattoos display his affiliations on his neck. He spits once in the sand. I expect a snake to sprout from the mixture, yet nothing happens. If he is a guard he is doing his job well.

“What do you think?”

“I do not know. That is why I am asking you.”

“Listen here old man, if you cannot figure out what this building is, then who would know?”

The way he says ‘you’ annoys me immensely. 

“Hey, the way you…” Already gone. What kind of trickery is this? I decide to find out from where he came, so I walk through the bushes away from the transformation house to stumble on a school’s playground just next to the apartment blocks. Some kids are dancing in a circle and singing a song.


“Wizards with fame, fallen angels some man say.
 Cloaked among people their works collide 
with the resurrection of mystics in men. 
“Ah”, would the philosopher say, 'is that not the burden of men', 
but no one knows how the wizards play…”

A rather elaborate song for young kids I do think, so I move to the teacher to comment just that, when she herds the kids in quickly. I look behind me. Is the weather turning? Am I being chased by a lion? I press on.

“Please, we have been over this before, you frighten the children.” The young woman looks at me with concern and a bit of fright.

I am flabbergasted. I walk back slowly with my mouth open. A mudfish on land way too long. Why is the air thicker here than in the forest? Why does it feel hotter here than among the seas of sand, where even I could pet a lion’s mane?

I trod and trample a small plant in the bush. Trickles of tiny droplets fall of the leaves all around me. This Amputee part of the forest is trying to talk to me. Whispers of steel, fragments of stone, a hint of smoke and fire. Dreams of older days. I back up until I hit the transformer house. Out of breath I wait until the sun sinks lower. Then footsteps in the dirt. Soft, with trepidation they come up to me and softly pass me. Snake man is going home. How many lizards did he kill today? I really do not know.

Then a hand on my shoulder. The white witch returned, her eyes kind, her lips hard. Ice all the way through. She offers me water. That’s it! I forgot to drink.

“I am sorry I am a burden.” Why I mumble this I do not know. Yesterday I ran from the forest all the way to the city. With strong legs and hard muscles. How is today so long?

“Here take this, hold on to it! Now touch the walls old man, feel the hard stone. Think and then leave the city.”

So full of hate she is, yet there rings truth in her words. Magic trickles under this building. I feel it, there is an earthly glow impossible not to notice. I feel stupid. Now I see, why not earlier? Water flows from the forest to the desert, but it all starts here.

“Look old fool!” She is really going at it now, the ice-witch. Why have metal in her nose if she is not scared for flying objects?

Before me a door that was never there before. Heavy steel set in stone. I can almost imagine the smoke, the flames, but then I open it. I step inside. Or did she push me?

Inside one fluorescent light hums visibility. The ceiling is blackened. The floor is sand, nothing here but me. I look around the four walls. I count them over and over again. Four, four four four. On each wall one written word.

“Trapped.”

Then I remember I am the old fool, the druid who entered the city. Twenty-one wizards with fame played this trick. Now they are gone or old and demented. I will sit here long forgotten.

Wait! She gave me something. In my hand a spray can of ‘Redwood red’. The bitch. Here now I spray my story, fellow druids! Head my warning: “never visit the city!”

- END

(c) Casteleijn MG. 2015-2017

5
0
3
Juice
95 reads
Donate coins to casteleijn.
Juice
Cancel
To celebrate the release of my new book, I am inviting you all to participate in a contest. The concept: Explore a person's struggle to come to terms with a strange, sinister, or surreal reality. This is a broad theme to encourage you to be as creative as you choose. Flash and full length stories welcome in horror, fantasy, surreal, or any hybrid genres. The only rule: Prose fiction only. Three winners will be chosen, who will receive 2000, 1000, or 500 coins + a signed copy of my collection.
Written by casteleijn in portal Fiction
Mudfish
The city pulls me in as I flop around like a mudfish without my protective mucus in the growing sun. I lie flat on my stomach and am puzzled. The graffiti on the side of the transformer house puzzles me: “Jail.” Why am I even here?

I just came from the forest. I know that I never was doubtful, it taught me that. I know I remember the things I recognize, I know I dream my comparisons, I know life is not real. I know everything just happens. Yet here I am staring at this.

So I get up and cross the road. My bare feet on the black cold asphalt is a shrill contrast to the desert sand I left before I entered the forest. Before I entered the city. Yet it does not speak to me. It is as dead as the sky.

In the bus stop sits a young woman. Her white dreadlocks are tied in a bun on her head, a piece of metal through the top of her nose. She smokes a cigarette while her eyes dart over the concrete in front of her. In her frailty lies strength; she was broken before. She fixed it herself. She knows that my lingering stare is on her, yet she does not heed me. A tremor filled with noise and dark smoke propels a tin box alongside us. So much traffic at such an early hour. I shudder. I made the forest my own, the city will take me if I do not learn fast.

“What does that mean?”

The girl ignores my question.

“What does that mean?”

She looks up with a short glance. She squints against the bright light and follows my pointing finger. She shrugs.

“Why is that a Jail?”

She tilts her head now, hails the next bus while she gets up and flicks her cigarette in the street. When she passes me she whispers my first lesson.

“You know nothing of the wizards, go back from where you came.”

Before I can reply I am alone. At least in the forest I learned how to connect. Here is nothing to connect with. So I walk to the transformation house. It drew me in, it has to mean something. The large wooden box in front of it can open. I check its content and it is filled with tiny stones. Then I circle the building. Each side is marked with white words: Jail. Then I am back at the box. My corner of my eye catches movement. A man walks from some apartments to the bus stop through a small wooded area straight towards me. He is fox like, silent he moves.

“Hey, why is there no door in this building?” It really makes me wonder.

The man looks at me. My heart skips a beat as a deep vibration moves through my belly. Yellow are his eyes, his tongue forked, tattoos display his affiliations on his neck. He spits once in the sand. I expect a snake to sprout from the mixture, yet nothing happens. If he is a guard he is doing his job well.

“What do you think?”

“I do not know. That is why I am asking you.”

“Listen here old man, if you cannot figure out what this building is, then who would know?”

The way he says ‘you’ annoys me immensely. 

“Hey, the way you…” Already gone. What kind of trickery is this? I decide to find out from where he came, so I walk through the bushes away from the transformation house to stumble on a school’s playground just next to the apartment blocks. Some kids are dancing in a circle and singing a song.


“Wizards with fame, fallen angels some man say.
 Cloaked among people their works collide 
with the resurrection of mystics in men. 
“Ah”, would the philosopher say, 'is that not the burden of men', 
but no one knows how the wizards play…”

A rather elaborate song for young kids I do think, so I move to the teacher to comment just that, when she herds the kids in quickly. I look behind me. Is the weather turning? Am I being chased by a lion? I press on.

“Please, we have been over this before, you frighten the children.” The young woman looks at me with concern and a bit of fright.

I am flabbergasted. I walk back slowly with my mouth open. A mudfish on land way too long. Why is the air thicker here than in the forest? Why does it feel hotter here than among the seas of sand, where even I could pet a lion’s mane?

I trod and trample a small plant in the bush. Trickles of tiny droplets fall of the leaves all around me. This Amputee part of the forest is trying to talk to me. Whispers of steel, fragments of stone, a hint of smoke and fire. Dreams of older days. I back up until I hit the transformer house. Out of breath I wait until the sun sinks lower. Then footsteps in the dirt. Soft, with trepidation they come up to me and softly pass me. Snake man is going home. How many lizards did he kill today? I really do not know.

Then a hand on my shoulder. The white witch returned, her eyes kind, her lips hard. Ice all the way through. She offers me water. That’s it! I forgot to drink.

“I am sorry I am a burden.” Why I mumble this I do not know. Yesterday I ran from the forest all the way to the city. With strong legs and hard muscles. How is today so long?

“Here take this, hold on to it! Now touch the walls old man, feel the hard stone. Think and then leave the city.”

So full of hate she is, yet there rings truth in her words. Magic trickles under this building. I feel it, there is an earthly glow impossible not to notice. I feel stupid. Now I see, why not earlier? Water flows from the forest to the desert, but it all starts here.

“Look old fool!” She is really going at it now, the ice-witch. Why have metal in her nose if she is not scared for flying objects?

Before me a door that was never there before. Heavy steel set in stone. I can almost imagine the smoke, the flames, but then I open it. I step inside. Or did she push me?
Inside one fluorescent light hums visibility. The ceiling is blackened. The floor is sand, nothing here but me. I look around the four walls. I count them over and over again. Four, four four four. On each wall one written word.

“Trapped.”

Then I remember I am the old fool, the druid who entered the city. Twenty-one wizards with fame played this trick. Now they are gone or old and demented. I will sit here long forgotten.

Wait! She gave me something. In my hand a spray can of ‘Redwood red’. The bitch. Here now I spray my story, fellow druids! Head my warning: “never visit the city!”

- END

(c) Casteleijn MG. 2015-2017
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0
3
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