In the dark, Doc Al moved like a bat, he could see every aspect of the people and things in the room. They appeared magnified in his eyes. Ochuko was trying to get up from the ground and retreat to where Sandy was. He understood the way his mind worked – protect others before yourself. He would point out to him later, when the deal was done, that certain circumstances prompted certain responses and principles.
He slashed him on the shoulder just as he was completing his rising and he fell back with a yell. One of his hands automatically covered the wound which had become a flowing river of blood. Accuracy, he reminded himself. He had not intended to get him on the shoulder, he had aimed for the neck. He raised his left hand – the hand holding the small knife with dagger tip – in a slanted position and brought it down hard on Ochuko’s neck. It tore the flesh on his chest instead.
Ochuko understood instantly – after the knife tore open the flesh on his chest – that he had to let go of pain, treat it like it was non-existent, though his senses were filled with it. He was dealing with a maniac here and he was holding back the option of life. He only wished to serve him death. He understood he was in a fight for his life. He rolled over once on the ground, his body splashing the small pool of blood on the tile. Doc Al’s knife wheezed past his ears and scraped the tiles, creating a sound that sent shivers running down his spine. He rolled over again.
“Sandy get out!” he screamed.
A foot stamped hard on the ground, pinning one of his hands. He wriggled it free and thanked his blood for the slickness. He looked up sharply and saw the owner of the foot aiming for Sandy with the short knife. She stood frozen beside the curtain, hands over her eyes, and screaming. He caught the other of the intruder’s foot and pulled hard. Fortunately, that was at the exact moment he darted the knife. The intruder came down hard on the ground, his head striking the tile. He heard the knife as it skittered over the tile then came to rest. He scrambled over to his attacker, his shoulder and arm aching with pain.
Hitting his head hard on the ground took his consciousness away, but momentarily. Speed, it came to his head in a flash and he hastily tried to get to his feet. He wasn’t fast enough, Ochuko pushed all of his weight on him, sending him back to the ground and reconnecting the back of his head to the cold tile. He lifted the hand with the knife and slashed. Ochuko ducked reflexively, then biffed him in the jaw. Doc Al groaned. Ochuko grabbed his head and drew it closer to deal it another blow.
He was losing fast. Doc Al raised a knee and got Ochuko in the groin. He rolled over and held it with both hands. Simplicity was slitting the throat. He raised his head from the ground and the pain that shot in it rocked it back down, it seemed to weigh tons now. He clenched his eyes shut and brought it back open. Speed, speed, speed. The spirit was willing but the body was weak.
Ochuko moaned as he crawled over to the bed for support. The night was a nightmare, one that seemed to have no end. The doctor’s hand caught him firmly in the neck, not strangulating but dragging him up to his feet. His wounded arm was growing limp, he was losing so much blood. He allowed himself to be lifted from the ground.
“What do you want?” he managed to ask the Doc, now face to face with him, with the doc’s strong grip still on his neck.
“Something you wouldn’t be willing to give.”
Ochuko coughed. He felt uncomfortable, his pants was soaked with blood. “So you prefer to kill me?”
“You said so yourself. But I don’t want to agree with you, I’m tired of the whole show already, you see. You’ll have to promise me to keep calm while I leave with my…” His eyes went to where Sandy had been. She was no longer there. “Girl?!”
He let go of Ochuko, who fell limply to the ground and coughed blood. A smaller man had attacked him in the middle of the night and subdued him, and here he was gasping for air. He laughed at the thought. He remembered standing intimidatingly before the doctor in the hospital…
“You know where she went to, right? You saw her leave, didn’t you?”
Oh no, Ochuko thought. The doctor was getting back to him, madness dancing in his eyes. At the moment, he was sure the small man was on drugs. He wished to scamper from the room. He was losing blood and that was his life, yet the maniac was interested in getting him to tell the whereabouts of a lady he hadn’t seen disappearing.
“Hey.” Ochuko said, struggling back to his feet. He was suddenly angered. “What do you think you are?”
The whole thing had gotten out of hand. Here was someone who had sat in his office in the hospital while his daughter almost got murdered in the same hospital. Someone who had entered into his house uninvited and tried to take his life and the lady he loves. Someone who owned none of the things he wanted. Yet he asked for them like he had a right to them. Ochuko regretted his previous thoughts of defeat, regretted ever being security unconscious.
“You’re a dead man if you think you can cover her up.”
Ochuko made it to his feet. He spread them apart and stood firm. His vision doubled and he felt woozy, it lasted only the moment. Doc Al held out his remaining knife in his right hand and approached Ochuko with a slanted smile on his lips.
“You have the chance to prevent this from happening. It’s Sandy, hand her to me and spare yourself from death.”
Ochuko waited for him to reach. He was scared; having nothing but his fists to fight his attacker made him feel so. What he wouldn’t do at this point was to run. He wondered where Sandy had gone to, he hadn’t heard the door screech open or shut close. Just as he thought of the bed, something warm touched his heel. It was her alright, she had wriggled her way beneath the bed silently. He didn’t jump. The knowledge gave him relief, hope and strength.
Doc Al charged at him with the knife held high. At the space of time between the charge and physical impact, Ochuko thought the doctor looked like a Samurai. He had watched Samurai X during his early youth and had always admired the calm attitude and precise cuts of the Samurai. His garments would flap in the wind and then scarlet red blood would fly. The Samurai always came undaunted and remained indomitable…
Not the Samurai in his house, however. The doctor fell on his face to the ground few feet before him. He hadn’t seen the leg jutting out from underneath the bed, blocking his path. He was held suspended in the air for a split second, unbelief the chief expression on his face, then the next moment, he came crashing to the ground. His jaw struck the ground, his head rebounded, his hands slapped lazily on the tiles, the knife jumped in the air and clattered to a stop three inches away from Sandy’s eyes. The doctor came to rest at last, his harsh breathing ceased.
“Is he dead?” Sandy poked her frightened face out of the bed.
“I hope not.” Ochuko said and moved to the Humpty Dumpty that the doctor had become. “He’s not breathing again.”
Sandy hurried out from beneath the bed and knelt beside Ochuko. She lifted one of the doctor’s hand and dropped it. It fell back limply. She picked it up again and pressed her thumb in his wrist to ascertain his pulse. She got it and let out a sigh of relief.
“I think he passed out.” She announced.
“Then let’s pour water on him.” Ochuko struggled to his feet.
“Don’t worry about that. Let me be in charge now. You thought you had this and see where it left you.” She kissed him on the forehead.
“You know I had it under control.”
“Shhhhh. Do you have any first aid box? And where’s your phone?” She headed to the door.
“The box is in one of the drawers beside the bed in my room, and the phone is on the drawer. I’m not sure about that one, but I’m sure it’s in the room. Hey, wait!”
She stooped at the door and turned to him.
“Sandy, I love you.”
She ran back to him and seized his head in both palms. She kissed him on the mouth and then on the nose and back on the mouth. Tears rolled down her cheeks. “I know you do and don’t you ever think I don’t love you too.”
He drew her away from him, she got to her feet and walked back to the door. The door closed behind her and he let his ears follow the sound of her slippers on the tiles till they faded completely. He looked at his wounded shoulder, the cut on his chest, and the one on his wrist. Those on his wrist and chest were clotted, but blood still flowed from his shoulder. He tried to stop himself from thinking how much blood he had lost and couldn’t.
The blood has to be stopped from flowing, he thought, only the thought seemed to be coming from a faraway land. He felt very tired, his eyes closed once and he had to force them back open. Sandy, she was taking longer time to return. He thought he should call out for her to hurry up but he felt too drained to utter a word. His eyes went shut on their own again.
The doctor groaned, Ochuko heard it, but it was in that same faraway land where sounds were wrapped in towels so they come out muffled. That colourless land where you’re subjected to keep walking until you find that kaleidoscope of colours. The reason why you must find those colours, you don’t know, yet you walk in search of it…
It was getting too tedious to sit with his eyes closed so he let his back touch the tiles, the cold cold tiles. It felt good, not so good, though.
Doc Al began to open his eyes.
* * *
Sandy was walking about in a dark room, there was just a single window in the room and it was in the ceiling. He didn’t know what she was looking for; if it was him she was searching for, all she had to do was look up at the ceiling. However, she was determined to find what she needed and he was beginning to get the idea it wasn’t him she was searching for. She had looked up at the ceiling once, looked hard and thoughtfully, but that was about all there was to it.
She reached the end of the room and leaned on the wall in frustration. Beads of sweat stood on her face, she didn’t wipe it off. There wasn’t time for that, something was coming for her and she knew it. She slid down the wall until she was sitting on the ground with her hands wrapped over her knees. He’d seen her this way many times, it’s the position she takes whenever things become impossible.
Don’t give up Sandy, he screamed.
She didn’t hear him. She bent her head and he soon began to hear whimpers. Not so, Sandy, he said. It was so to her, however. The world was coming to an end. The building shook fiercely, he had to hold tightly to the banister to keep from being shoved into the pit of darkness that was his surroundings. He was on the roof of a building that had just one opening – the window – and this window had a banister around it, can you imagine? He held firmly to it. Above him, there was a whirlwind of darkness. Things were thrown into it, never to be seen again.
Sandy watch out, he screamed.
Sandy sat that way with her head to her knees. A beast burst through the other end of the wall and charged at her. It had a toothy – fang filled – smile for her. She was not seeing the smile, the same way she was not seeing him. She whimpered.
He had a sudden flash of inspiration, or vision. Sandy was searching for a first aid box and a phone. She was lost in this unnamed room that must have appeared empty to her. However, the box and the phone were there together on a table. He could see the Red Cross on the side of the white box, it stood out in such startling clarity. And the table was just beside her at arm’s reach. The beast charged on, it had three million miles to cover and it covered a hundred thousand miles a minute. Just how many minutes was left before he fixed those pointed horns in her gut?
SANDY FOR GOD’S SAKE LOOK UP! PLEASE!!!
She raised her head, and it sank his heart to see how much fright was on her face. This must be a nightmare, it seemed to say, but sorry, it wasn’t. He was real and she was real. The monstrous bull too was real, same as the phone and the First Aid box and the table. Their world was coming to an end, everything was being gathered into the rapidly revolving darkness and flushed into extinction. She focused on him, but he knew she wasn’t seeing him, neither was she seeing the approaching bull.
THE TABLE, IT’S BESIDE YOU. STRETCH FORTH YOUR ARMS AND YOU’LL TOUCH IT!
She turned sideways and looked back at him doubtfully.
YES, THAT’S WHAT YOU WANT. THE TABLE. IT IS THERE AND IT IS REAL. THE BOX AND THE PHONE IS ON THE TABLE.
If she hadn’t heard any of the things he had just said, he was certain she heard BOX, PHONE, and TABLE. Agility was restored in her. She jerked her head sideways and pushed her right hand likewise. It struck the table, glasses clinked together and tottered. They didn’t go crashing to the ground. Sandy rose from the floor and swept an arm over the table. The box went into the arm but the phone was knocked to the ground. She went on all fours and began searching for it. The bull, with the head tilted down and a toothy smile on its mouth, got closer. Its sound filled the air.
At last Sandy heard the sound. She looked its direction and froze.
NO!!! THERE’S NO TIME FOR THAT. THE PHONE IS JUST IN FRONT OF YOU. PICK IT UP AND FIND YOUR WAY OUT OF HERE!!! HE’S DYING.
He didn’t know who he was referring to by using the word HE. He was up here clinging tightly to the banister to himself from being ripped by the whirlwind of darkness into nothingness. He knew he wasn’t dying. There was every chance of him making paradise, but that was dependent on the outcome of Sandy’s search. If she got her items and made it out of the room to him, the dying man, then he’ll find his way to paradise. The destruction that was going on in this world, he wasn’t certain it would cease, but he was certain he’d be taken to paradise,
PHONE, IN FRONT, HE’S DYING. She heard those clearly, he could swear on his father’s grave. She reached for the phone in front of her like she knew it had been there all along. It came into her hand. She got off from the ground with the box and phone in one hand and dusted her trousers with the other.
He thought what she dusted was her bare thighs. In the darkness, he suddenly grew an erection.
The bull reached her. It lifted its horns to sweep her from the ground to the wall. It would trample on her till she disappeared into the earth. It would be over for her, over for him.
LOOK OUT!!! He screamed.
But she wasn’t looking out. They had lost connection again. Did they? There was a foxy smile on her face. She had her eyes trained on the horns of the bull. As it swept those pointed tipped horns her way, she jumped up and into the thick furs of its back. She knocked it in-between the horns with the box and kicked it hard on its sides. The monstrous bull didn’t protest. It cocked its head to one side as if listening for instruction.
“Run down the walls!” Sandy shrieked like a Banshee. Hell, he thought she looked like a Banshee at that moment.
The bull charged into the wall and it went crumbling down, and not on them. They were already on the other side of the wall.
The world was fading out. She hadn’t turned to him to salute him for his assistance. He didn’t feel hurt however, he felt satisfied. The wind still carried things with it into darkness – cars, strips of asphalts, trees, houses. They crashed as they disappeared into the pit of darkness. But the wind was retreating from him. A subtler wind came his way, this one sweet scenting. He knew this wind. It was the wind of change.
Casmir opened his eyes momentarily and closed it back. He wanted to dream on, things over there was about to get sweet. He muttered words he couldn’t understand, belched once then a cramp came in his gut. He jumped and before he could stumble two feet, he vomited.
“Sandy. I’ll miss you.” He said and another bout of vomit gripped him.
When it was over, he got off the ground and went to the door to put on the lights. His head hummed in an unpleasant way. He leaned on the wall and wept.