Despite how tired he was, Elwin headed back to do another work shift after having lunch with Kylie. After finishing late in the evening he made his way back to the condominium alone as he had started that day. He peeked through the window of his apartment and for once Holda wasn’t there. Moving as quickly as he could in his tired state he fetched a blanket and a pillow from underneath the bed and quickly left the apartment. He dragged it down the back staircase with the door leading outside and worked his way to the bottom. There he crawled underneath the stairs and made a bed for himself using the rotting cardboard boxes for a mattress. He hadn’t washed and was still covered in dirt and grime. However, he was so tired he didn’t care and drifted off the sleep.
He didn’t know for how long he had been asleep when he was woken up by a finger poking his cheek. Startled he looked up to see a dark silhouette standing over him. He was terrified yet so apathetic from tiredness he couldn’t find the energy to run or plead. He just stared in weary terror at the figure.
“I knew I would find you down here,” came the sound of Erian’s voice.
Elwin gasped a sigh of relief, but his relief was short lived.
“So is this where you and Kylie made tender love?” snarled Erian venomously. Continue reading “Thorns – Part 20”
When Elwin eventually arrived at the café in his condominium building later that afternoon Kylie had drifted off to sleep, her head resting in her arms on the table. Elwin cautiously sat down but bumped his knee on the table leg waking the sleeper. Kylie jerked upright her face contorted from much crying she stared at Elwin for a few moments before she managed to speak.
“Elwin! You came! I thought you had forgotten me, here is your lunch,” she passed him the sandwich which was now soggy. Elwin didn’t complain, but thanked her quietly for the sandwich and for waiting for him. Wearily he started to eat the sandwich. Kylie watched him and slowly it occurred to her how dirty and soot covered he was. Although Elwin often worked in the coal mines he didn’t typically look this bad. She inquired and he related to her the incident with the Kellite engineer. He did so in flat even tones betraying no anger.
“I have listened to you telling me of the Kellite engineer and how he treated you. I can tell that you are not angry, but allow me to say that I feel angry. I do not know why because this engineer was one of our betters and one shouldn’t question them. Yet all the same part of me burns with fury that he should do this to you.”
Elwin felt too uneasy to make eye contact with her so he continued to focus on the remains of his soggy sandwich. He felt a sense of confusion: on one hand he was pleased that she was angry, on the other hand he felt angry with her for speaking ill of a Kellite. It scared him think that perhaps the treatment he had received was somehow unjust. If the Kellite engineer had been unjust then many other threads threatened to come loose from Elwin’s mental fabric. He did not know why, but it still felt somewhat important to keep those threads safe, and so he pushed the idea aside and focused again on the sandwich. Besides, the thorn in his chest hurt less when he avoided thinking about such things. Continue reading “Thorns – Part 19”
Kylie arrived back at the condominium for lunch and found herself a bench at a table. The waiter took down her order and was surprised that she was ordering two lunches. She explained that she was waiting for a friend. The waiter grinned obscenely and made a sexually suggestive motion with his hand. On any other day Kylie would have giggled at this but today she felt different. She stared blankly at the waiter not responding at all to his lewd gesture. He didn’t notice her lack of reaction, and informed her that the two lunches would take about an hour to prepare. Kylie nodded, that was about right. Service was typically this slow and that’s why she ordered the lunch she promise Elwin before he had even arrived.
Making her way to a free table she tried to read the Paradise Times, a weekly newspaper produced for circulation amongst the Delforians, but found herself distracted. Looking up from the newspaper she spotted Edith at her usual table working feverishly away sorting through documents. Kylie found herself staring at her crown of blonde hair neatly tied up. Edith noticed her looking and stopped what she was doing to glare at her. Kylie didn’t notice she just kept staring fixated on the intricacy of her hairdo. Edith grumbled, tried briefly to get back to her work, but decided to get up and walk over to Kylie who was still in a trance.
“Excuse me,” grumbled Edith.
Kylie looked up at her blankly, a soft, ‘yes’ passed Kylie’s lips in acknowledgement.
“I noticed that you’ve been staring at me. Is there something you would like to tell me?” Continue reading “Thorns – Part 18”
Then the black thread of poison morphed into a trail of crimson blood. Kylie’s body jolted back into life and all her limbs flayed about spasmodically in the water. She gasped hungrily for breath and with the rapid violent movements she brought the warmth back to her body. Elwin helped her out of the water and she shivered uncontrollably. Without knowing why he wrapped his arm about her and cradled her close to his chest as she sobbed.
Elwin was holding onto Kylie protectively for several minutes when they heard the sound of approaching boot steps. Erian was running towards them from the pillar he had been hiding behind. Kylie seemed jolted into wakefulness. She hastily put her clothes on. Erian stopped a short distance off and watched her putting her clothes back on hurriedly, while Elwin was looking away from her.
“What is it Erian?” asked Elwin.
“Groods! At least two dozen of them, they’re marching through the canal.”
The trio quickly moved up the edge of the canal and concealed themselves in the brush. Elwin pointed out the wet marks Kylie had left behind while climbing up the slope. Erian dismissed his concern stating that the Groods were too stupid to notice details like that. Kylie was unusually silent she hadn’t yet spoken a word since waking up. Continue reading “Thorns – Part 12”
Erian cursed, “You’re a disgusting pig of a woman, Kylie. You’ve got no standards.”
Kylie unwrapped herself from Elwin and turned to face Erian, “You’re such a cranky loser Erian. Why don’t you have a wife, eh? You’ve got a cranky face only a nursemaid could love.”
Erian responded in kind and the two started escalating their argument further when Elwin signalled for them to be quiet. The last stray dog had wondered out of sight. Now was their opportunity to go down to the water. They trio clambered down to the water. Kylie looked around at the dirt, mud, and junk strewn around the canal: her face beaming with excitement at seeing such a novel environment. Erian watched her coldly from atop a pile of gravel.
“Well now what? Where’s this thing that allows you to remove thorns safely?”
Erian pointed to a pool of flowing canal water that was deep enough to submerge a human body, “that’s it there.”
“A pool of water?”
“The water cleanses the wound so the loss of a thorn won’t kill you and you won’t get the plague either,” said Erian flatly.
Elwin looked at him from the corner of his eye, but didn’t protest.
“So do I just put my hand in and then you pull it out?” she asked presenting her right arm in the air which was thorned at the wrist.
Erian shook his head, “If we took out that thorn other people would notice, we’re going to take up the thorn that no one can see.”
Kylie’s gaze narrowed, “You mean the thorn ten centimetres below my belly button?”
“Yes,” said Erian coldly. Continue reading “Thorns – Part 11”
Sorry this is a day late, I had an unexpected event last night! Humhyde part three will be up later today as scheduled.
School classes did not start right away. We had a week of orientation left because all the Delphorian children were being collected from around the different nurseries. There were about forty of us and we were all born within the same month of each other. When all the other boys who were born this month finished arriving then we would begin our classes together. Since we had only just been thorned this was the first time we were allowed outside. Because we were born at different times of the month that meant for those of us who arrived before the end of the month we had some time to just wander around the school and play on the equipment.
There was not actually much to do on the playground. There were a few high iron bars and other acrobatic equipment, but most of us were feeling too sore from being thorned. We gathered around a set of monkey bars and all stared at it, there were about twenty-five of us new boys just looking at the bars but no one had the courage to try playing on them first. In retrospect, this was peculiar, because a week earlier at the nursery the children would race to get to the play equipment to climb all over it. Yet something about the buzzing pain in the side of my face was sapping away all my enthusiasm for play. Continue reading “Thorns – Part 8”
Elwin waited for Erian to come out of his trance. It was not uncommon for him to go into these trances and Elwin was used to them. Rather nervous ticks, hallucinations, and trances seemed so common among the Delphorians it was simply accepted they were a degenerate people full of such defects. Elwin was used to Erian’s bizarre habit of going into a poetic trance that he knew confidently that in a few moments the thorn embedded in his right temple would start to sting and he would snap out of it.
“Agh!” cried Erian clutching his right temple. The thorn swelled up into a putrid black boil.
Elwin waited for Erian’s pain to subside and then he questioned him straight away on what he said about water washing away sins.
“Oh that was just something I heard some crazy fool in tech school muttering once. No one took him seriously. Although, I do wonder if that’s the key for removing these thorns.”
“Are you sure we won’t get the plague if we pull out all of these thorns?”
“Elwin, I am sure of it, we were not meant to live like this. We were meant to be rulers.”
“The Kelites say that when we were rulers that we were cruel and arrogant. Maybe we deserve these thorns. Maybe the thorns are justice for our people’s sins.” Continue reading “Thorns – Part 7”
There are few other memories of note that I have of the nursery. Certainly few that are particularly distinct. But in the days leading up to my seventh birthday there was one memory that stayed with me indelibly. I recall feeling terrified and sad for my leaving the state nursery soon. One of the nursemaids noticed and she asked me what was wrong. I told her than I didn’t want to leave, that I was afraid of being thorned. This nursemaid was called Agatha and she had been thorned in her right cheek. The thorn was not a small spot or blemish on the skin. Where the thorn was inserted into the flesh a large black welt appeared. From this black protrusion of the flesh emanated a network of black veins so that Agatha’s entire right cheek was covered in black lines. If I had only had the experience of the other children who were free from such blemishes, I would have thought the sight of a thorn to be disturbing, however, as all the adults had at least one thorn somewhere on their head and so I was accustomed to the sight of them.
Agatha looked anxious for a moment, looking over her shoulder before smiling kindly at me. “This place has become your home hasn’t it?”
“What’s a home?” I asked innocently.
“It’s an old word, long ago people used to live in just one place to grow up in. It was a really small place, nowhere near as big as this nursery. But children would stay with their parents.”
“What are parents?” Continue reading “Thorns – Part 2”
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”