Sunday, February 26, 2006

Fortress of the Damned [Part IV]

Where the hell am I? Jack asked himself, looking around at something out of a post-apocalyptic movie. Cars were over turned, some burned out, some still smoking, some with bodies inside of them, most unrecognizable. This can't be? I have to still be dreaming. A vivid, really real dream. He wasn't dreaming and he knew it though he tried to convince himself that he wasn't. The scene in Terminator II: Judgement Day in the future, looking at the bones on the cars wasn't this scary. Bodies were lying all over the place, the street, the sidewalk, against and inside cars, on top of cars. What had happened?

He shouldered his assault rifle, expecting the worst. He had seen way too many movies with zombies to know that whatever was going on could not be good. The night sky loomed overhead, casting down a full moon, eerie. He walked up the block, to the large intersection, a five road intersection that was large enough to play baseball in and still have a small outfield. He looked around at the scene. A cold wind gust rustled through and flung some papers into the air, howling as it went by him. Maybe up on the main road. He said to himself as he slowly walked towards the main road, Castle Avenue, a large, busy road. If something was going on that was where he would at least be able to see signs of life, if there were any.

The wind blew the traffic lights back and fourth, many ominously changing from green to yellow to red to green to yellow to red, on their normal cycles. It appeared almost as if, suddenly, everything changed in a split second and the entire world uprooted itself and turned into a scene from hell. Isn't this the pits? He thought as he moved towards a CVS across the street. There wasn't a car for miles, except those lying, burned out, smoking, sizzling, bloodied.

The doors were open, the lights on, the same scene of gore, horror, and mutilation inside. Bodies were turned almost inside out. The flesh had been burned off others. Bones were exposed only through muscle, tendons, and charred flesh. I'm glad I'm not hungry. He attempted to joke to himself, to keep his stomach at ease. He was strong willed and this was grotesque but he wasn't about to lose his guts over it.

"I better get supplies," he muttered into the thin air. He looked for a bag, the largest one he could find, a Jansport backpack, the kind he went to high school with, the kind that never let him down. He filled it with junk food, unfortunately all that there was. Filling up a decent sized water bottle with Gatoraide he figured that would last him a while. Just to be safe though, he took several bottles of water and Gatoraide. Money was plentiful and by the time he was done looting the store he had almost $7,000 on him, money that was stashed away in his pack and his pockets. There wasn't much else of use in the CVS except medical supplies, some aspirin, bandaides, peroxide, the essentials. He grabbed a notebook too, a college-ruled, marble notebook. With a package of ten of the nicest pens and another package of Bics, he departed the CVS, back to Castle Avenue. He knew which way to go, the only way that made sense, towards the police station, if it was left.

It wasn't far away, 3/10 of a mile, if that, a quick walk would get him there fast. Though he had to be cautious, he put his rifle back around his back and drew his pistol. If he needed to pull his rifle it would come easy. He walked down the street, the scene only repeating itself, past the tattoo parlors, car dealership, gas stations, cemetery, past the bars, across the bridge, past more stores, and finally to the police station. Apocalypse Now! was written on the front of the building and he realized that there was no hope anymore, he couldn't go back nor could he go forward, it was too ominous. Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here! was written underneath. The writing was done in red spraypaint or was it blood? He couldn't tell. It dripped like blood but, no, could it be, was it really blood?

"Here goes nothing." He pushed open the doors.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Fortress of the Damned [Part III]

Jack saw probably something far worse than the body in the other room. He had been tapped on the shoulder but not by anything living but rather by something dead, very dead. Hanging from the ceiling was the resident of the apartmet and hanging from her stomach, slit and sliced open, were her intestines. She hung from the ceiling, lifeless, blood dripping onto the floor. Disgusting. He said to himself as he jumped away, back to the dead soldier. This is no joke.

He immediately stripped the soldier of his clothes and his gear. He had seen way too many zombie type movies to not take this situation up for what it presented. The guard had on tactical gear, camoflauge, and body armor. It fit snuggly, lucky for him. He looked back down at the guard and the weapons he had laid out on the floor. He kept his Seal Knife and fit it now to his leg, putting the knife from his boot back into his boot. The soldier had another knife himself and he strapped that onto his vest. Then, he smirked as he picked up the soldiers' weapons. The first weapon was a sidearm, something he enjoyed. It was a USP Match and from what he could make out from the back of the bullets, it was in .40SW, loaded with 16 rounds per clip. With a clip loaded and four clips on his vest he had 80 rounds, enough, for now. The second weapon was definitely the primary weapon for the guard, a powerful, formidible foe.

The primary weapon he recognized immediately. He played enough video games to know the Mark 16 SCAR-L when he saw it. The weapon was new, very new, adopted by US SOF instead of the XM8 and the XM29. Loaded with thirty 5.56 x 45mm NATO rounds he knew what he was getting into when he picked up the rifle, slug it around his back, and took the six magazines from the dead soldier. Whomever these guys were, they were special, very special and he didn't want to hang around to find out what they were doing there.

He strapped his Mag-Lite to his belt and crossed to the front apartment on the second floor. The door wasn't open nor could he kick it in. As he went to work picking the lock he heard the sound of a helicopter outside. Frozen, he went instantly quiet. The only sounds were that of the rustling wind and the helicopter, which wasn't all that close, yet. He had to act fast and so he did, picking the lock and getting into the apartment. There wasn't much to find there. It had been thrashed as well, blood everywhere but no bodies. I'm going to need cash, he said to himself as he looted the apartment and found $849, probably their rainy day fund. He pocketed the money and went back down the steps, to the front apartment, to where his friend lived. He knocked on the door first, hoping that someone would answer. "Hello? Maggie open the door." No one answered. "Maggie it's Jack." Still no answer. "I'm coming in Maggie. I've got a gun don't be afraid." He picked his way back into the apartment and saw a scene unlike that upstairs. Everything was everywhere but this one was different, there was no blood, no bodies, no signs of struggle, just a disaster. "Maggie are you home?" He shined his Mag-Lite throughout the apartment, looking for signs of life. Nobody was there and there was no point looking.

He exited the apartment and walked to the front door of the building. The street was dark, too dark for him to see much. The street lights were out, that much he could tell, and the wind rustled papers and leaves everywhere. Here I go. He opened the door, assault rifle on his back, pistol in hand. Once again he came up to a nasty surprise...

Friday, February 24, 2006

Fortress of the Damned [Part II]

Jack looked around and saw the faint echo of night. Was it really night still? He asked himself. He had gone to bed at 10:00 PM the previous night, exhausted from work and pointless arguments with people he cared not to argue with, people who never understood a point. He looked at his watch. It said 10:38 PM. Had he only been asleep for 38 minutes? It felt like hours. He staggered into the living room and flicked on the television. February 24? What? Something was wrong, very wrong. Had he really slept for 24 hours? He knew he was tired, overworked, and overstressed but 24 hours of sleep? Wasn't that too much? Suddenly he had the yearning desire to smack himself, maybe he was dreaming.

That didn't work. He returned instead to look at his cell phone, maybe the TV was wrong, though not likely. No missed calls, there's something different. He said sarcastically to himself. Slowly, he pulled on his pants and threw on his sneakers. Whatever was going on he wanted to see it for himself. He threw on his hoodie and his jacket, put on his hat, and pulled on his SOF gloves. The one thing he managed to catch aside from the time was that the temperature outside was 8°F. It was definitely winter.

As he grabbed his keys and his phone, he stepped out of his apartment to see papers everywhere. Glass sat on top of them and light bulbs flickered. Where the hell am I? He asked himself. He looked up to see the skylight shattered, blood on the jagged glass edges. This is too weird. He immediately walked back inside and picked up his Seal Knife 2000, his lock pick set, and another knife. He changed out of his sneakers, into his boots, and prepared to go out into a world he knew never existed. With his knife secured on his belt, his other knife in his boot, and his lockpick set stowed in his pocket, he ventured back outside, locking his door, a door that an RPG-7 would have trouble getting through.

The scene inside the apartment building was frightening. At the top of the stairs, a door was opened and though he had to step across papers and glass he ascended to the top of the steps. The door was only about a quarter open. "Hello?" He called out as he pushed the door open, knife in hand. Furniture, papers, books, everything was toppled over. It looked as if someone was there to rob the place. He looked straight ahead into the dark living room and tried to flick on the light switch for the foyer but it didn't go on, there was no bulb above, just the shattered remains of the filament.

He moved into the kitchen to the right, stepping on a bag of Doritos. There was nothing to be found in there except food everywhere. He backstepped, into the bathroom, blood everywhere. Then, he entered the living room and saw nothing again. Mag-Lite, he said to himself as he rushed back to his apartment to get his Mag-Lite. When he returned and shone it into the living room he saw a body, or at least what looked like a body. The mangled corpse looked like it had been eaten and chewed up, shot and stabbed as well.

He approached it, the face unrecognizable. Shining the light around he didn't see much else, not until he ventured into the bedroom. The bedroom was just as much of a mess. The bed was toppled, lying against the wall, sheets on the floor. However, sitting behind it was another body, a soldier, someone shot perfectly through the forehead. What the... He said to himself as he turned to see a shadow looming over him. That's when it hit him...

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Goodbye for Now

Ever listen to that song, "Prayer" by Disturbed? It's a good song but you have to like heavy metal, and good heavy metal at that, to like the song. People relate a lot to music, especially songs with powerful meanings. I can't dispute that, I relate to too many, "Prayer" being one of them. It's basically David Draiman telling God that he's sick and tired of some bullshit here and there. I address the song not to God because if He exists He damn well isn't around to help us so he can shove off. I address this song to life and to those who continually work to thwart any attempts I have at succeeding at anything. I address this to them, you have triumphed. Congratulations and maybe now you'll move on to another victim. I'm done, spent, I concede defeat.

Another dream that will never come true
Just to compliment your sorrow
Another life that I've taken from you
A gift to add on to your pain and suffering
Another truth you can never believe
Has crippled you completely
All the cries you're beginning to hear
Trapped in your mind, and the sound is deafening

Let me enlighten you
This is the way I pray


Living just isn't hard enough
Burn me alive, inside
Living my life's not hard enough
Take everything away

Another nightmare about to come true
Will manifest tomorrow
Another love that I've taken from you
Lost in time, on the edge of suffering
Another taste of the evil I breed
Will level you completely
Bring to life everything that you fear
Live in the dark, and the world is threatening

Let me enlighten you
This is the way i pray


Return to me, return to me, return to me, turn to me, leave me no one
Turn to me, return to me, return to me, turn to me, cast aside
Return to me, return to me, return to me, turn to me, leave me no one
Turn to me, return to me, return to me, turn to me, you've made me turn away

[Chorus Variant:]

Living just isn't hard enough
Burn me alive, inside
Living my life's not hard enough,
They take everything from you


So I give this song to you, a tribute to your sworn efforts to destroy me and destroy every shred of hope about anything. You've won.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Million Miles Away

Jack awoke from his slumber early that morning. The wind still howled outside as it gusts between the buildings and tightly spaced houses. It was cold, the glory of winter. The alarm rang loud, 9:00. It's morning, already... He groaned as he stood, realizing that no words came out of his mouth.

He had to be at work by 12:00, at least another three hours, two hours of which he could spend attempting to wake up, no easy feat. He stumbled into the living room, in his chair, flicking on the monitor of his computer, left online all night, AOL Instant Messenger in away mode. Nobody was on, nobody had left him a message, nobody cared. Rather than attempt to talk to no one, he flicked on the television and scanned through just about every channel on his list until he came to Cinemax. Empire Records. He thought to himself. A good, old movie back from 1995. He smiled and watched as he checked the webstats for a website he managed and his own personal site. The numbers were high, high enough to break records, again, and it was barely 18 days into the month. He still had 11 to go, counting the 18th.

His thoughts wandered though. It was tough to watch and listen to the TV. His mind was elsewhere, on a dream he had, a weird dream, something that made little sense.

It was this book store, underneath a large department store. He walked down the stairs, looked around. "Good evening." The clerks said, three of them. He nodded and looked around the main room, which had a register, some couches and chairs, a nice rug on the floor, and a few bookshelves with nothing that great on them. Some bookstore. He then looked around more and saw that the bookstore went further, much further. He entered the next room, an odd room for a book store. One whole wall was covered with television sets and there weren't any books. It was a nice room, covered with wooden paneling and hardwood floors. He continued deeper, finally finding bookshelves. The novel he wanted, was it there? He kept looking, deep inside this den of solitude. As he walked more and more into the store he realized that he was no where near the front anymore. Where the hell am I? He thought to himself as he finally found the book he wanted.

Then he woke up at that point but what he recognized was one thing. He was lost. He knew it, very lost. He wasn't lost from God or lost from anything spiritual, that was mumbo jumbo. He was lost from his own humanity. What was he now? He didn't feel like a person anymore. He felt like a prisoner, trapped by his own anger, rage, hate, and loathing not just for himself and for the life that he wound up, a life decided by his own foolish choices but also for the rest of the world and the rest of humanity. Some people at work told him he needed to find God. He wanted to respond to that with a fist. Keep your God to yourself.

So there he was, sitting at his desk, watching TV, a million miles away from anything he knew, anything he cherished, anything that defined his as human, a million miles away from himself...

Friday, February 17, 2006

The End of College

"Congradulations" is a word I'm sick of hearing whenever I say that I have completed my Bachelor's degree. Sure I finished 122 credits of a required 120 for a B.A. in Political Science. Yes, I walk in May and get the actual degree. Of course I understand that it was a great accomplishment, four and a half years worth (though only 8 semesters). To me though, it doesn't feel like anything worth celebrating. Let me digress...

I spent 15 years in school before I went to college, 15 non-stop years. I went to college more or less because it was the next step. Sure I could have gone to work, found a job, probably found something decent, though honest. However, that would have been a waste. So, I went to college. I got into every one I applied to, monetary reasons putting me where I wound up, Iona College of New Rochelle, definitely not my first choice but a choice I lived with, nonetheless.

Well, what did I learn? Let's take this year by year. I went there with everything I could possibly want, finished a first semester with an average of 3.769, far better than I ever did in high school. Life was a breeze in college, classes were easy, tests were a joke, and going to class was natural. I wound up only skipping one day of class, more because of sickness than anything else. So, I came back home for Christmas, changed, in a way, and everything just degraded. When I went back in January, I had nothing left anymore. Friends who I thought were honorable and true turned out to be backstabbers, wastes of time, and fake. What else would I expect for hanging out with Long Island people? I left that year nothing like when I came. I made different friends, most of which would turn out to be more wastes of time except for a very few.

I went back for the second year, early, to escape the drudgery of summer. Well first semester again turned out to be an experience. When I wound up with a 1.5 for the semester it was another wake-up call. I can say I finished that year, fixing the mistake I made, but sadly, not without losing another part of myself in the process. I started with computer science as a major and by the end of the year it was all about political science, my finished major and what a wise switch that was. I made some new friends, more who would turn out to be useless.

Rather than go home and face the inevitable that loomed there I stayed there the summer, hoping to spend time with people I was friendly with, hoping to have a better summer than the year before. It had only turned out to be a repeat although it had a much worse ending and so I lost another part of myself.

A week into my fifth semester there I wound up suspended for something I shouldn't have even been involved with, something stupid yet understandably done. It wasn't anything criminal, per say, it stripped nobody of dignity nor honor, it stole nothing, directly. Unfortunately, this meant I had to go back home, back to the horror and misery I tried to escape all summer long. Apparently there was no escaping it and I had to face the evil within.

When I went back in the spring I didn't go back to the dorms or the life I had. I moved out, to an apartment, with a job that I worked as many hours as I could, sometimes 20, sometimes 40, most times in the upper 30s. I worked 6 days a week sometimes, often going on 12 day stints without a day off. I was running away, escpaing...I had different friends again, though most of these would fade through time as well. I can say, through the nightmare there came some good, another semester with a GPA over 3.5, a pattern I would exercise for the remainder of my time at Iona.

Summer was another drag, another waste, time lost and time unrecoverable. This only led to another year and I was a semester behind. Those two saw a whole different type of life and living, which usually was work, school, work, school. Nothing else was around, much. There were new friends, some whom I still converse with today, though not many. Everything changed once again and when I returned for that final semester I returned to something I couldn't stand anymore, a life that I wished I didn't have but a life I had grown so accustomed to that I know not anything else.

Now what am I left with? For the last 19 years, I have got up, gone to school, and that was a given. Now I don't do that anymore, I work, full-time, in a job I would drop the minute I could. This void that exists now exists from a lack of something I had grown so accustomed to, something I had grown so used to, something I definitely required. Now what...

So, James is done with his undergraduate career. Four years of college and it's over. I went to college with everytyhing and lost it all along the way. Now I am left with nothing. Some "time of my life." Everyone tells me "congrats" and that I should be happy. I'm not and nobody understands why. Now what am I supposed to do?

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Breeze of the Night

Lately, the nightly weather has been cool, breezy, and calming. The light breezes that sweep through the streets, over the grass, through the buildings, and over the trees brings a lot more than just a good feeling. They bring, with them, eternity. These are the winds of time, the Fall winds that bring with them, every summer memory. Those that were good fly through the alleys and keep going. Those that were bad always get stuck at the entrance and return back. These are the ones that never fade, that never stop, that always linger and haunt.

There is a passage way between Amend and Spellman, it leads off campus. There is a hole in the chainlink fence that goes between two garages, part of the houses that sit next to the campus, the departmental houses. There is something about this area, the physics of it that traps the breeze and allows it to stay for long periods of time. The passageway is almost always windy. The passageway is dark too, there are no lights and very few know about its existence and even fewer travel through it. I travel through it.

I come to class through the pass, I leave class through the pass, I vanish into the night, through the pass. I walk through it alone, with nothing on the other side, nothing on either side. It's like I am trapped there, trapped in the dark, where no one knows, where no one can hear me, where the memories haunt me, where the memory twist my pain even more.

Everyday I pass through there I pass through there alone, with nothing on the other side to look forward to, nothing on the other side to hope for. Ever been in this? Maybe. Maybe not. It's not a dream nor a nightmare. It's hell...