I woke up and looked in the mirror while you lay in bed. Still no reflection. Sun light in the room cast shadows, but not mine. In a panic I dressed hastily to leave the house.
“Come back to bed” you said.
“I have to meet someone” looking at the clock I was already late.
“Non of your fucking business!” I screamed.
“You can’t speak to people like that.”
“I just did.”
“ I don’t think you’re very nice.”
I gave a slow sarcastic hand clap.
“Top of the class, now fuck off.”
Nonplussed you dressed and left.
“Bye the way, no calls, no emails, no letters, but you were good. Byeee” I said.
The door slammed, I watched which way you went. Then exited quietly in the opposite direction, breaking into a run to reach the rendezvous. I wanted it back.
I reached the café, he wasn’t there yet. But he never broke a promise. Breathless, I sat down, ordered coffee. I saw him pass the window, he came through the door.
I had seen him many times before, and he smiled at me and took a seat.
“Well, hello there” the richness of his voice drew you forward.
He continued.” You’re still alive, in a way, but my, how you have changed.”
My fists balled under the table. He laughed.
“You can’t hurt me. But I can erase you because now, you belong to ME.”
“NO” I shouted. The people in the café looked at us.
“Moderate yourself boy. Don’t frighten, it achieves nothing. Are you unhappy with the deal we struck?”
His face was full of sympathy, and barely hidden malice. He went on.
“You have been granted every childish dream you thought of. What you did with them was down to you.”
My chest heaved as I knew this was true.
“But what about me” I pleaded. He smirked.
“You know there is no ‘me’. Its just a construct to get you through the day. A trick of the mind. No self. Your Buddha got close, but difficult to bribe.
Now you’re a horse of a different colour. Eminently corruptible” his steady eyes searched mine. Who would blink first?
“Stories, stories” his mellifluous voice continued.
“You live on them. They inform your reality, ha ha” his mocking laughter went on.
“Just give it me back.” I responded.
“Oooh the boy wants his soul back. Sorry, no can do. That’s way above my pay grade.”
“Then I will do no more. ” I said.
“Bad decision, we will come looking for you. You cannot hide from us.”
He took a mirror from an inside pocket, held it to myself.
“See, see old chap, you are still human.”
I touched the features reflected like a lover.
It was me.
Why I was here
Could I steer a way out of this?
As he left I realised my life had become pure theatre. I could not tell the difference between the real and unreal. I tried to remember how I got here. I couldn’t. I finished my coffee and left. They had the power to give and take away. On my way home I saw my shadow and briefly I felt whole again. This feeling would not last. I was being toyed with for their delectation. The only way out was suicide. But how? I don’t have the courage. Now that’s a mortal weakness. Before I got to my door a young woman ran up to me with tears in her eyes. She said “They are gone, they are gone.”
“ Who” I enquired.
“My mom and dad.”
“Shall I call the police?”
“No, don’t do that.”
“Why not?” she didn’t answer. We went inside my house and I made tea for us both. As she cradled the cup I looked at her. She never looked at me. She must have been about twenty. Spoke with an accent, probably Russian.
“Would you care to tell me what the hell is going on here?”
Her head dropped. More tears cascading on the floor.
“My parents were taken.”
“Why and by whom?”
“My mother is a top chemist who worked in secret labs in Russia. She developed an antidote to radiation sickness. She handed it over, but it was incomplete. From a young age I had to memorise the bits she left out, that was our insurance. She thought the authorities would see it as green flag to wage war on the west with limited casualties at home. She wanted out.
My father was a journalist, silenced for his words against Putin. We had to leave.”
“ We contacted your embassy, my moms story was what they counted on. Re housed different names, we end up here.
But they don’t give in.