Also buy Stand to Resist, and resist the fascist oppression against my writing career by these fellows from the deeps. Also Rosebud Unfurled, my second novel, cause we ain't no one trick pony, are we Yam???
RPG and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race. Cum Gauntlets of 1x1, and a death so slow that granny fucks outpace it. I stand to join a fellow's downfall, take me out too and shoot me dead
Someone had texted him on the third day of his absence - a general code of conduct pass on, to make sure there wasn't any disappearance on Franciszek's behalf. It was from a person whose name was unfamiliar to him, like most classmates tended to be, simply spelling out: U OK? MR LIMER WANTS UPDATE?. He responded with the usual - it's fine, just ill, or something like that. He'd be in the day after, and he was, but it was arguable if he was ever really there at all. His mind was lost at sea, taken far off to a place he had no comprehension of. An isle; far off, sunken and trodden in the distasteful, surreal atmosphere that plagued its winds and waters. It caused a great shudder, a feeling so real and so unfathomable that he could not shake it as fiction. Something had happened to him that night. Something painful, sensational and inexplicable.
He'd made no attempt to contact his peers from that evening because they had never made an attempt to contact him. It was the troubling nature of his predicament. Who could he speak to? On the off-chance that it was a fabrication of a delusional mind, which had started to seem even more preposterous than accepting it, then who could bear the ability to understand his issues? Had he gone insane? Had the well-represented kaleidoscopic spiral into insanity, shown in all his favourite books, pledged allegiance against him? Franciszek had nothing to work with. He was quiet, and that silence permitted a strange inability to function, as though he'd shut down and felt nothing else. If anything, that roasted broth of the ocean, the one that had flooded his throat, had never left his mind. Even the salt could still be tasted on his tongue's bruised tip.
The day he'd returned to his lessons he was quiet, at least on the academic scale. He wasn't quite as enamoured by the texts around him nor was he in the mood for the arts. Back in his dorm, he'd taken the time to try and write down his thoughts but it'd came back to him as a scrambled mess, incoherently tied together by mentions of the island. Many of those notes were discarded into a bin just outside the dorm building.
The night before they visited, he'd been sat staring at a phone screen - at a text, specifically - unable to word or send the message. It was a mess. A confession of a surreal nature, not to any crime or wrongdoing but to confusion and anxiety. In the world beyond, he was alone, and it was a cold existence. Press send, he pled with himself, just press it and let him know. But the truth was he couldn't. He'd only add to his disappointment, to the numb, unhappy existence the recipient would feel. He deleted it. Wrote it out again. Deleted it again. Never sent. Never seen.
"Frankie?" A voice spilt through his door, as the manager came in, escorted by two men."I have some people here who need to speak to you."
Harris was the first to enter, with a little more ease to show, as his partner sat further behind, ready to scribble notes down. It was a sudden thing - it wasn't exactly unknown between the whispers of HAGAY that some form of interviews had been conducted over something recent, though was often downplayed as a minor thing. Franciszek did his best to adjust himself, but he couldn't shake the slouch in his stature, not the fatigue in his eyes. There wasn't a doubt they'd noticed it themselves.
"Franci-...sorry, Franciszek, is that right?"
"You can..." He yawned. "-just say Frankie...everyone else does."
"Rough night, mate?"
"Don't really sleep well - sorry. I...don't want to be-"
"Don't worry - you're fine." Harris stepped aside, allowing for his partner to at least come into view, whilst the dorm mother peeled off behind them to only vaguely listen. "This is Inspector Jones, he'll just be jotting down a few things, if that's okay? I'm Inspector Harris, we're just doing some routine procedures; have a few questions to ask, if you're okay answering them?"
"Don't worry, you aren't in trouble." It was a blunt reminder. Of course he wasn't in trouble. He hadn't done anything but lose his sense of direction, and there weren't laws for punishing the lost. "You been here long - at the academy?"
"Not very long."
"You enjoying it?" He wore a paternal smile on his face; the type that tells someone things are okay, that everything will work out fine. But what good was to a boy who hadn't the heart to talk much?
"Finding it hard to adjust."
"What do you study here?" His partner hadn't started to write down much, at least until something interesting came up his end.
"Nice. Do a little reading myself, on the off days. Helps you focus, doesn't it? Getting lost in other worlds." Franciszek's paranoia skyrocketed at the mere mention of it, but he nodded with a head full of panic and confusion. It was then that the opening act concluded, and the main interlude of the interrogation had begun. "So - in case you were wondering - we're currently looking into a prolonged student absence. Sofia Wright; I believe the name's familiar to you?"
Like that, his heart started to sink. Worry, a tumultuous storm, made waves across his nerves, and his expression sank a little. A deadly premonition warned him that perhaps something had gone so terrible wrong on the night. Something so savage and real that a student, one friendly besides an overbearing nature, had found harm upon herself. It was a terrible thought. He nodded, at first, then shook his head, then nodded again, simply debating over whether something was really wrong.
"Yes-...a little. She was...well...a group leader for some icebreaker stuff. I didn't know her...not personally. But she was really friendly, I think. I liked that. No-...I haven't seen her in a while." Harris looked to one side, to his partner, then back at the boy with a faded smile. The atmosphere around them changed in the blink of an eye.
"We have some people who are worried about Sofia - about where she is. I understand if you two weren't close, but could you please tell me if you noticed anything - anything at all - on the night 15th of September? Can you recall anything?"
Franciszek hadn't intended on lying, nor had he the intention to tell the truth, but as the dialogue within himself flared up, like fire on a stove, he found his eyes turn damp, and a few tears came through. The anxiety was palpable, but it wasn't explicit. The inspectors were kind enough to give him the time to say his piece.
"I...well...I don't...she invited us...some hazing thing...I think, at the docks? I just...I didn't like it. Someone pushed me in. I left...right after. I wasn't the first to leave-...no...wait...yeah, no, I wasn't the first to leave." He wiped his eyes with his knuckle and took a deep breath. Their beady eyes upon him weighed heavily down on his back. What could have he said to the strangers, that he couldn't have said to his own flesh and blood? The pure ingenuity of it all. It scared him to think something had happened to Sofia. He never even knew if she was responsible for such a thing - he thought she was. Maybe she could still have been at large, throwing the innocent into the deep, but he wanted to believe that she was nothing like that; that maybe she was as nice as his mind had painted her to be. He shook his head again. "Sorry...I'm not...used to this. Is she okay?"
"We'd like to hope so." Detective Harris seemed satisfied with his information, or he realised that there wasn't much else to hear, but a boy under pressure by an unexpected presence. It was harder to tell with teenagers his age. Emotions were always a heavy bearing to hold. No doubt any kid in his situation not used to the process had the capacity to be scared. "That's all. Here - we have a number you can call here. If you hear anything, let us know. If she's okay, we'll let her know you helped; might be a better icebreaker than dock-plunging, huh?"
The quiet was disturbed by the sudden arrival, or return rather, of several other people - assumedly those that had ventured into wonderland with Franciszek not too long before. The room was dark and, admittedly, the others had found themselves in other stalls than his. It should've beckoned for him to move right away but he didn't. He was scared. Afraid of opening that little stall door and to face the others, lest they were different. He'd seen the illusionary confusion that they'd gone through, the strangeness of creatures and their reactions. Them simply arriving at the same location as he had created the worst of all things that day - confirmation that something had happened.
There was a strict sense of dread coated across his skin. He lifted his head and pressed his skull against the stall's wall. He listened to their conversations and was unsure of whether he should have or would ever speak. None of them knew his name either way, and he didn't know theirs. Did they share his problems? The ways in which the others reacted were all their own ways indeed but he couldn't shake how disturbing it all was. What had he encountered? That was the question that plagued and followed every second thought. Someone then left the door, proclaiming that they had ended up in the girl's bathroom. It almost broke a smile on his face for the sheer absurdity of it all, but it only hammered in one motive - to leave, to go back and to attempt to sleep again. But perhaps he'd had enough of sleeping. Those dreams weren't worthwhile anyhow.
He got up, undid the stall and without as much as a word, he departed. It was cold, and the night was fruitful. He shivered so greatly. The march, the sneak back to his own dorm and bed, was the most discomforting of his time since arriving at the academy. And the hour he returned to his room, he laid on his bed - eyes peeled open, and he was kept restless until dawn.
"Up - go on, up y'get!" At the crack of dawn, the rooster bellowed in due course.
A throbbing, pulsating ache still lingered on Palmiro's right temple, one of egregious proportion and unrelenting annoyance, though where such a pain had originated from he knew not. Perhaps it were the sleepless hours he'd had, for days in and out, where the men clad in green cloaks had visited their home once more, that time with even less formalities. There had been a scuffle - nothing too dangerous, just some shoves and shouts, but it hadn't settled away from the young lad's mind quite so. That was the trouble behind such things; there was never any answers, nor explanations for those type of engagements Uncle Mateo had found himself caught in. Less communicative, of course, was the Rooster himself.
At the foot of Palmiro's bed - or rather pile of sacks softened by a bundle of straw, wrapped in old bedding - stood Oskar Barlow, the serviceman himself. An experienced fellow, so greatly lavished in deep-rooted cuts and gashes of old that one couldn't imagine him without them, as though any sort of idea of clean, untainted handsomeness was impossible for the man. He towered over him, the shadow of his figure looming across the bed, and he barked the way he barked. Orderly, and with presence. Never had it changed for the man, and never would it. The old guard sniffed and wiped his finger across his thick, paintbrush moustache, before he whacked the side of the sack bed with his foot, dislodging the perfectly balanced straw structure beneath the boy. Palmiro tumbled out onto the floor, as he did almost every morning. It was almost a ritual, even to a detriment, and it was his home after all.
Oskar didn't take much amusement from the very same fall Palmiro had made. It got him up, unfortunately enough, and the lad had things to do. Yet he didn't stoop down to the low ground he laid upon, and instead paced away toward the door.
"I need you to bag up some wheat, and then take it to Klein's market shop - pronto. We're behind again." Oskar ordered whilst Palmiro slowly rose himself off the floor. "Can you see to it then?"
"I'll get to it." He groaned a little. It wasn't like he could have shown him any greater sign of disappointment or disapproval. Both the uncle and the nephew were lucky that such a prestigious, as one's personality would have had them believe, stationary guardsman would've even gifted them the splendour of attention, let alone hosted them, during his six month service leave. Kindly so, they all tutted. Kindly so, indeed.
"Any lazier and you'd be an MP." He spat with a subtle, mischievous grin. It was all in the tone - that's how he knew it was at least a little laced in satire. But only a little. Palmiro straightened out his back and fixed his posture with a groan, then after Oskar had hurried off to busy himself out the front of the house, he dusted down his clothes to try and make them look a little cleaner. It was obvious that he lived in a military man's home - his attire reeked of the colour olive and beige.
He walked outside with a wheat sack over each shoulder. They weren't as heavy as he'd imagined, as by the bindings of trade, the initial stock had lost its load through hand-exchange taxes imposed by each and every tradesman it'd crossed. Oskar had unofficially done so the same, for the scent of bread was rich in the neighbour's bakery. A stagger took him out onto the street and he passed Oskar making conversation with two uniformed soldiers of the Stationary Guard. It was a friendly chat, indicated by their grins and less tense statures, but their eyes glistened with that look of seniority-respect. Oskar was as much a soldier as Mateo had been, except it seemed that his company was all the merrier to have him around. Palmiro trudged on, out into the paved streets, in time to meet the first few carts that rattled on by. A barrel of apples fell out of one and nearly rolled over his shoes, but luck was on his side and no such pain occurred. Odd that - he thought - he never had much luck with luck itself.
As he bumbled along his side of the street, his mind drifted as it often did. It covered the same topics in succession - much alike the news shouted out by heralds and printed on the papers. He wondered about his home, or lack thereof. He asked himself if his mother was okay, or if his father was as grumpy as always. He wondered about his horse: Lewis. Then came the daily happenings, or how quiet it had been since that one Gabriel boy had left. A shame - he always repeated - to see a good acquaintance go. But that was how things were on the move. Not a single city, street, building or room felt like home. There was never something concrete to call his own.
He passed on the wheat without much fanfare. The tradesman looked down at the sack and scowled at how light it was in weight. But it was enough. Always the same, they said together, and Palmiro flashed him a weak smile. Then, it was back down the street, the same way he'd come. He wondered if he'd visit the inner-district stables for the hell of it again, or if there was more light labour cut out for him. Though most prolific to his thoughts was as he asked himself why things were so quiet. It was inherently linked, though, to where his uncle had gone, and the feeling made when he realised he hadn't seen Mateo in almost an entire day.