Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Bus Ride: Episode I Part 2

Adam Snoppen’s new found situation, what he now spends his time doing and those he finds in his company are revealed.

How long has it been since we left Snoppen? It is difficult to say because time has an awkward way of expressing itself in the afterlife for those who have one. Nevertheless, we shall transport ourselves to the appropriate setting immediately.

The sky is riddled with brilliant stars and the arching band, the luminescent dust of the Milky Way spanning the sky, thought by some ancients to be the breast milk of a goddess spilt out amongst the heavens or the backbone of some large creator god, is clearly visible. The clarity of the sky hints at a remote location, from a time long ago—no light pollution obscures the celestial objects and the bright crescent moon’s edges are crisp and clearly defined, missing the surrounding corona provided by our modern pollution. But perhaps it’s not a lack of pollution that offers this view; perhaps it’s a lack of moisture. And so it is, for when we let our eyes drop, far beneath us we see sand, pale and calm in the moonlight, in all directions to every horizon.

A small grouping of lights disturbs the monotony of the landscape. As we descend we see a dark, regular shape, that of a square. Adjacent is an isolated collection of shelters with some small fires among them, providing warmth and light. Inside these stoned enclosures we would find slumbering slaves, a few workmen and their families, but those don’t contain the one which draws our interest. As we descend further we focus on one hut in particular that resembles all the others. The only thing special about this hut is that it is the only one that contains a single occupant. Lowering more, we see the dark cloth roof bouncing about lightly in the small but steady breeze and we begin to hear rhythmic sounds and the grunts of a man before passing through the roof and seeing Adam Snoppen in the corner, naked, on a three legged stool.

He is hunched over, abusing himself and silently cursing the sand, always everywhere, in his food, in his sandals, grit in between his teeth, stuck to the sweat of his palm and rubbing deeper with every stroke. His shadow dances before him in the corner—he has his back to the rest of the room and the fire flickering in the corner opposite. And what a back it is, covered in sweat and grime, with large circular, hardly healed wounds spread about an irregular lattice of crisscrossing scars. His hair is disheveled and his tan even darker. He no longer bears the watch the young lady on the bus found so attractive, nor does he have in possession his most recent wedding ring. Something intriguing has happened though. Where he once hid them while pursuing other women they have left marks. On the left side of his chest just beneath his nipple, the spot where his shirt pocket would be, there are two circular scars next to each other. He has two similar marks on his hips, one on each side, corresponding to the location of pants pockets.

Since Adam hasn’t finished grinding sand into his most sensitive of areas, scarring the calluses he’s built up over his nights spent here, we’ll discover the last set of scars on his body. Where the watch once resided on his left wrist a small but prominent, transverse scar is visible. A puncture mark can be seen on the left side of his neck roundabout where his jugular vein is, appearing almost like a comet with its short tail pointing towards the center of his throat.

Snoppen is now one of forty or so crewmembers building a Great Pyramid. This crew consists mostly of slaves, criminals, and unfortunates. Don’t get fooled into thinking Adam was transported back in time because he was not part of a community or sub-city working to build these great monolithic tributes to the gods and pharaohs. There was little harmony and work was done by just this one crew, not tens of thousands of agreeable people working in unison. True, there were some workers and accompanying families, but they were there more to keep the slaves and work-lords from starving, providing food and transporting water throughout the day.

Most of the scars upon Adam were from a whip, a whip held by his work-lord, the man who took great pleasure in abusing Adam. He is the third work-lord Adam has had, a job attained through heredity. Snoppen has been here quite some time. During this time he has acquired many nicknames from the scores of slaves that have been worked to death, those that replaced them and eventually died themselves, and by the work-lords. The most common of these names was Immortal, the only one that stuck for the length of his stay, the other names temporary fads that came and went with the successive generations, those that helped Adam with his task of constructing one of the giants of architecture he firmly believed were made by aliens. When he first arrived and the two scars on his chest from the wedding rings were discovered on his body, not much thought was given them by his captors though their origins were obvious to Adam. However, when his body refused to age and he outlived all his coworkers, and eventually his work-lord, the next one in line dubbed him Immortal. The two scars were given new significance then, for they were close enough together to resemble ∞, the symbol for infinity. This didn’t keep his work-lords from routinely whipping him though. Immortal or not, he was often at the wrong end of that whip.

One time Adam had been unfortunate enough to get caught trying to speak to the first work-lord’s daughter, a pretty young thing whose only talent that surpassed her beauty was surreptitious flirting. Adam, it seems, had not only been cursed with the unbearable task of building one of these great monuments in the blazing desert sun; he also found his libido had grown to inhuman proportions. As soon as one word came out of Adam’s mouth, directed to the young little coquette, even when he knew with every ounce of his being that speaking to her would bring nothing but trouble yet couldn’t resist the temptation, the chance, no matter how farfetched, that he would get to have his way with the svelte beauty before him, he felt the hand of a giant grab his neck. This giant, his work-lord, tied him to a post, whipped him for three days, and forced him to watch the rest of the crew disassemble instead of assemble the pyramid. It was shortly after this, when his back was still sore, that the tease made eyes with him again. He couldn’t resist the urge building up in him, and he started to speak to her, when, again, he felt that same large talon of a hand grab his neck. But Adam had had enough and quickly turned and escaped the large work-lord’s grasp, snatched his whip from him, and started to whip the man as hard as he could. The monster of a boss seemed unfazed though and marched steadily toward Adam, backing away and whipping as hard as he could; but his work-lord never made it to Adam because the daughter had walked up behind him and smashed his head with a rock. When Adam awoke, he found he was tied to a post and could hear the crack of the whip before the slow dull pain became acute and sharp. In front of him he saw the work crew disassembling more of what had been already built, all giving him looks that expressed their loathing and resentment. In between cracks he heard the unrelenting giggling of the work-lord’s daughter.

As soon as Adam was untied he made a beeline straight for the nearest work bench but his knees buckled and he resorted to running as quickly as he could on all fours, grabbed one of the copper chisels and attempted to slit his left wrist; unfortunately for Adam, he had never been taught that you never cross the street but run up it. The work-lord saw this and started stomping his way towards Adam. Desperate, he plunged the chisel into his neck and pulled it as hard as he could towards his throat. The popping sound made by the chisel surprised him more than the pain did. He passed out and died.


not undecided said...

This is getting better and better! I sent both parts to FiveStarFriday...hope that's still cool with you!

Bazarov said...

You do what you want :) I don't think it's anything stellar. I'm looking at this project more as a way to practice writing and forcing myself to do it serially, committing myself to what's been published so I can't go back and change it once it's been submitted. Thanks for reading!!!

Bazarov said...

Oh yeah, and these things go through maybe five readings at most before being posted. Not a lot of revision or polishing going on here ;)

not undecided said...

Just saw these comments back. Writing is like decision making. Well, blogging is. Trust your gut. Your first output is usually best (minus typos and nonsense and whatnot); over-editing makes you lose your voice sometimes.