All my life I knew that I was different to everyone else. People would ask me how I knew they were near me and all I could express was that I just knew it. I could even let people know when doors opened or closed, when others were home or not, or if someone was walking or running behind a wall, and all without seeing them. The adults speculated that I had the second sight, while the children preferred to spread rumours that I had the devil’s touch. The adults informed us that this was nonsense and that no one had had the devil’s touch in generations, however, I could see in the faces of some adults the echo of genuine concern from generations passed. The children believed that I had the devil’s touch because I could also make the lights turn on or off without touching the wall panels. No one could see how I did this, and at the time I didn’t understand either. No one could point out to me what I was doing. I was a source of wonder and fear for everyone around me, yet I was still a small boy and my unusual abilities hadn’t gotten me into trouble yet.
My life was still relatively normal until when I was fourteen I woke up with the realisation that someone was breaking into my bedroom. I made the lights come on without touching the wall panels in my usual way and there standing in my room was a woman in a thick black jacket, she’d obviously smashed in my window to get into my room for the glass was so freshly broken it hadn’t started to melt into the floor as it typically did when broken. She signalled to me that she knew that I was the boy with the devil’s touch. Feeling that I had to reply to her, as she was an adult, I signalled back that she was correct. She unbuttoned her coat and it slid from her naked body. She was the picture of mature womanhood in full bloom. However, I was only fourteen and found her terrifying. She saw the fear in my eyes but signalled for me to keep still because she just wanted to lie in bed with me. Continue reading “The Devil’s Touch”
Looking out the window Elwin felt fearful that the old man he had just turned his back on was boring a hole in his back with his eyes. Elwin wanted to look back at him, and at the same time wanted avoid looking in his direction ever again. The train hit a bump and Elwin sneaked a surreptitious peek over his shoulder while everyone was struggling to regain their balance, but the old man was looking elsewhere as though he had already forgotten Elwin had even existed. Relieved by this Elwin looked out the window again and this time with enough presence of mind to notice something as if for the very first time: There by the entrance to the coal mine was a colossal machine.
The machine was technically a vehicle, yet it was taller than most buildings. It could have easily stood eight, nine, or even ten stories high. It towered by the side of the train yard like a gigantic sauropod made from steel and rubber. Instead of jaws it had a huge wheel with a series of buckets built into it. A large conveyor belt ran along the neck section into the body. An immense platform for caterpillar tracks supported the massive apparatus. It had been said in the old times these machines could dig through entire mountains and do the work of ten thousand men in a single hour. Whoever the ancient people were who built these great machines, the secrets of their technology were now long forgotten. No one alive could recall this machine being used. Instead it had been left to gather rust outside the train yard standing as a constant reminder that giants had once walked the Earth. Continue reading “Thorns – Part 17”
Elwin stepped into the multipurpose room of the flat. There were only three rooms in his flat: the aforementioned study room, the bedroom, and the multipurpose room. It was a square shaped room; on one side was a kitchen bench, cooker, and sink, on another wall the television, the next wall the door leading out of the apartment, and on the final side the two doors leading to the study and bedroom. The space in the centre of the room was greedily consumed by a wooden table with two padded chairs. The apartment was identical to all the others in this condominium that Elwin had seen. It had not occurred to him that it might be absurd for there to be no toilet located inside the apartment. Instead, all the toilets were located outside the apartment. While the only shower was located in a corner of the bedroom.
Elwin listened to the sound of the shower at the door of the bedroom. When he was satisfied his wife was indeed in the middle of one of her marathon showers he crept over to the small rectangular window near entrance. He checked that no one was there then quickly slipped through the door. Like all the other doors inside the condominium it had no lock on it. The walkway outside was made of metal, and would make a loud pounding sound normally. However, Elwin had learned to strike the walkway so carefully that he didn’t make a sound. Thus he started making his way to the farthest staircase in the back corner of the building. Continue reading “Thorns – Part 4”
Elwin set down his pen. He looked over the ten or so pages he had just written about his time in the nursery. He took half a dozen slow deep breathes and rubbed his eyes. The room he was in looked different to him now. It was a small room. It wasn’t much more than a meter across and two metres deep. It had a single bookcase, a small writing desk, a small window, and a wooden chair slightly too low for Elwin to sit on comfortably. The bookcase had only about two dozen books on it, but the spare space was filled with various pieces of junk. The kinds of spare parts one might find in a mechanic’s workshop.
Elwin felt the thorn on his left cheek itch. It itched all the time. The itching of the thorns was like tinnitus: it never ceased but often one stopped noticing it was there. He continued reading over his account of living in the nursery when he reached the part about Agatha the thorn over his heart started to twitch and his hands started shivering slightly. He stopped and focused again on his breathing. Long slow deep breaths. It would pass soon, he told himself. Continue reading “Thorns – Part 3”
My earliest memories were from the nursery. I might have been four or five years old at the time. Guards had come into the building. They were men, big tall men, I don’t remember ever seeing a man before in my life. They came for Mariam, one of the nursemaids. I remember them dragging her kicking and screaming out of the building. Then one of the guards punched her in the face. Her slender frame crumpled to the floor started jerking convulsively. She was silent from that point one. They just dragged her out. I wouldn’t see her again until my first thorning years later.
The other nursemaids gathered us together in the main play room. They gave us children a lecture about the dangers of favouritism. Mariam had been guilty of treating some children better than others. I don’t remember feeling any guilt at the time. Years later though I felt horribly guilty when I realised that I was definitely one of Mariam’s favourites. She used to sneak me in extra biscuits and cuddles at night through the bars of my crib. I would eventually conclude that I was the reason why the guard had punched her. That it was my fault she was gone. Continue reading “Thorns – Part 1”