Friday, 29 June 2007

RED DEVIL



By Fatmir Terziu
This short story won a prize at "Kadmus" competition in Greece in 2006.


A bird hovers overhead. It is flying south, away from the approaching winter. As it flies on, it becomes smaller and smaller until it is a black little spec in the cloudy sky. It is a normal autumn day with one difference: it is hot for autumn. Underneath the bird is a huge city, Argadas. In a park with green grassy fields there sitting on the grass is a little boy and his Grandma. The boy’s name is Alex, he is 8, has short light-brown hair and green coloured eyes; his skin is pale, as if he never goes outside. His Grandma, Edith, is 67. She has long grey hair tied in a bun. Alex is sitting quietly next to his Grandma as she reads him a book.
“Out of every flower, comes out a weed”- his Grandma reads out loud.
“What does that mean, Grandma?” - Alex asks.
“You will find out on your own…”- his Grandma replies.
The words repeat in Alex’s mind over and over again: “Out of every flower, comes a weed”.
***
Later the same day, Alex and a friend of his, Stephen, are playing with a ball, kicking it to each other. One of them kicks the ball into a nearby bush.
Alex goes to get the ball. As he nears the bush he noticed that some roses are growing in it. He reaches out to pull one; after all, roses are his favourite types of flower. Slowly he reaches out and tugs on the stem, pricking his finger on a thorn. As he pulls the flower out, he notices something strange that makes him drop the rose.
The flower, which is now in the ground, turns into a bizarre creature. It looks like a living weed. It has a round head with leaves that looked like hair growing out of it. Its stem-like body is green and has roots twisting and tuning all over it, looking like veins when they throb. It also has huge spiky thorns all over its body, like an armour against a predator, not that there would be a predator large enough to prey on this creature, being seven foot as it is.
Alex screams loudly.
“Don’t be scared”- the creature says in a deep rasping voice. “You brought me into this world, my destiny; my mission is to change this world. It is an order I was sent to complete, and you gave me a big chance to do it. You are now part of my life. I will fight to protect you…and you need to be most careful to protect me too… Don’t ask me any question. Don’t be scared… The mission starts now.”
“Hey, Stephen, did you just see that?”
“No. I didn’t. What is it Alex? I can’t see anything.”
“Is this your friend?” asks the creature.
Alex nods.
“Then I will make him be able to see me as well as you. Everyone else can’t.”
“What is it, Alex?” asks Stephen.
“The creature …” tries to explain Alex to Stephen, but a voice like an echo comes from creature:
“I am The Saviour, The Rescuer of this world.”
The children’s eyes widen and they step back from it.
“I said The Rescuer!” He lunges forward but the children sway back, twisting the top half of their body so that his grab fails.
“I said The Rescuer…Let’s start now”- the echo dies away.
***
Alex, Stephen and the creature are now walking away from the park towards a bus stop. The boys were now over the initial fright of seeing the creature and after realising he is quite friendly, they decide to let him go with them.
“What are you?” asks Stephen.
“If I explained to you exactly what I am, you will not understand. I am made out of all the weeds people pull out. You see weeds are not just horrible looking flowers they guard humans from evil. My body is made up of all the dead weeds that are pulled.”
“What’s your name?” asks Alex.
“If I told you my name, I would be telling you my life story, and that is 10,000, years long, but you two can call me The Rescuer.”
“Are there many more of you?” asks Stephen.
“Yes a lot. We come from another world, a world so big you can’t imagine!”
“Our world is big too” says Alex.
“You think this world is big? It is not. You see it with your own eyes, and it looks huge. To me it is very small. I can control this world with the blink of an eye. Do you want me to prove it? Here, look!” Out of nowhere The Rescuer pulls out a device that looks like a laptop computer and points at the screen. The screen shows a normal classroom. “Look at this; you think this would be a normal lesson. It is not.”
Two boys come into the classroom both of them very cross. Suddenly, they both start fighting with each other, while the teacher is chatting with another colleague.
“Do you want to see more? Here, look! Some workers are drinking in the pub during their working time… One of them is drunk and is pestering some elders using bad language without meaning. This policeman is paid by his government to stop crime, but he is committing crime himself. He is helping criminals smuggle drugs and guns into the country. This is what I have come to stop.” The Rescuer says.
“How can you make it what you think is normal?” - ask both.
“I said don’t ask me a lot of questions. Just follow me and you will find out. You can see how the things can be turned back to the reality, to the normal life, as it was a long time ego. Look! Now it is not as it was few minutes before. In this classroom what I have changed is only one word. Humans know it but for many humans in this world it has been forgotten now. It is the most important word for a normal life, for normal work… It is the word, discipline. What I did is normal for my world and my people and it’s magical for you and your world.”
“How comes no one else can see you, but us two only, anyway?” asks Alex again.
“I will tell you everything. My words will make a clear picture in your brain. It was an ordinary house. Just an ordinary, empty house with all its windows broken. Once it had stood on the edge of town but the town had grown bigger, and now blocks of flats looked down into its tangled garden. Nobody had lived there for a long time. Nobody, that is except for us, the rescuers.”
We moved in one wet, windy night, one hundred of us, led by The Mysterious One. We went straight to the basement, where The Mysterious One stood on an upturned, rusty pail and said, ‘You are the first Rescuers’. In my world’s language the rescuers is a hundred of us. If you were sheep, you would be called a flock. If you were humans….”
At the word human, The Rescuer shuffled restlessly.
“If you were humans you would be called a crowd, regiment, division, or perhaps a battalion. Anyway, that night The Mysterious One was about to use his power to help us in saving the human race. He was going to make us invisible to human eyes. Before though he was telling us about what we had to do:
‘They have told wicked stories about us, and used us in cruel experiments,’ shouted The Mysterious One. ‘They have killed each other in wars. They have turned these world evil thanks to their greed. They cut down trees and levelled mountains and hills and said it was to grow food, but we all now know that it was just a human experiment and that nothing grows at the peak of a mountain! They have done all this, now it is our turn! We will have our victory,’ he cried. ‘But it will not happen overnight. It will take patience and planning, and plenty of hard work.’”
‘We’re ready!’, ‘We’re ready!’, ‘We’re ready!’ we shouted again and again.”
“The Mysterious One, who was our leader, used his magic to aid us. He was going to make us invisible, but somehow he accidentally made us disappear completely from this world. We have in another world for a very long time now, not known how to get back to this world. You that have brought me back gave me a chance to start what my people should have started a very long time ago. By bringing me back you and your friend can also somehow see me, but no one else can, unless I want them to.” finishes The Rescuer.
***
Later Alex is lying in his bed. The Rescuer is standing next to his bed.
“How will you get back to your world?” asks Alex.
“When my mission is complete I will tell you and only you can make this happen,” The Rescuer answered. “Only you and nobody else can do it. This is the most important secret that you need to know.”
“What’s my mission? How can I do it?” says Alex standing on his bed.
“This mission is not personal. It is desire of all humans. Therefore, you need to know this fact. You are part of this mission with most important role in it. Our success is in your hands.”
Alex smiles. “I am just a kid.”
“You are not a kid any more in my world’s life. You are very powerful. You are everything to me. I told you, you need to keep secrets. When people can see the changes for good in their daily life they will be happy and you can be happy with them,” says The Rescuer.
“What about the changes? How do you know what is good and what is bad? How do you know that humans like me want it to change from bad to good?” asks Alex.
“My people told me about that a long time ago. I know everything about these changes. They are here,” he points at the laptop screen. “Look at this screen. By just pressing this button I can make a lot of changes happen”.
“Will people want this to happen?”
“People? You are right. People are politicians, they are police, and they are mafia. Of course some of these people don’t like these changes. They should be part of our change too,” replies The Rescuer.
“You think we can change all these people?”
“I know also that people have lost faith in change for good. So I know that, but it is not a huge problem. The problem is that we need to protect the people affected.”
“If you disappear again what will I do?”
“If you are careful about what I told you, everything is going to be fine. But if you are not careful the mission could fail and your world would be destroyed.”
“What?” says Alex shocked.
“I don’t want to scare you. This is the final chance for your world. And if you don’t take the chance your world will end.” says The Rescuer.
“I will not let this happen.” says Alex thinking about the world getting destroyed.
“Good. Now is your bedtime. Don’t forget this is part of our mission, this is the discipline.”
As The Rescuer disappears Alex falls to sleep.
***
The next day in the morning some kids are playing football in the school playground. Alex is one of them. He is about to kick the ball when at that moment The Rescuer appears and distracts Alex.
“Alex? What are you doing? Kick the ball!” some kids ask Alex all at the same time.
“Ok. Ok. I can kick it now,” Alex answers, while placing his hand on his stomach to pretend that he has a stomach-ache.
The Rescuer goes up to Alex “You can still play, don’t worry about my presence. Go on play. I am taking a rest and enjoying your game” he says to Alex.
Alex tried to carry on playing but stopped again. “I am so sorry, I can’t play any more” he says looking around at his friends. As he stops playing, three of the kids come along to him.
“What’s happen to you?” asks one of them.
“Why are you not playing?” asks another kid.
“I told you, I have a bellyache.” says Alex.
“A bellyache? Can you tell us what did you find yesterday with Stephen in the park?” interrupts the third kid looking at Alex suspiciously.
“Did Stephen tell you?” asks Alex nervously.
“Yes. Look here!” says the third kid pointing at a photo in the front page of the newspaper.
“What’s that?” asks Alex.
The third kid turns his eyes around and stops at Alex. “This article explains everything. This story can be…”
“I have to go now. I will talk to you later.” Alex murmurs and to himself “did Stephen…?”
“What did you say about Stephen?” The Rescuer says in mock shock.
“Nothing! Let’s go to find him first.” says Alex.
The Rescuer takes out his laptop computer again and presses a few buttons.. “Don’t worry I can find him now.” he says.
***
The Rescuer has lost control. He is not like before. His power is gone. He is very tired. As he tries to be normal, he ears something strange. A well-known voice comes from inside the Goranax, where he is at the moment. The voice has been familiar to him from a very long time ago. He shakes his head and concentrates. Yes it is definitely he. It had to have been he who ordered Stephen to be captured. Now he is inside the Goranax Mountain with Alex next to him. They have come to free Stephen.
“Ervener? Ervener?” The Rescuer shouts. “I know it is you. I know that only you can make it happen to me. We all cried that day for you. We cried and still are crying for you. We were thinking that you accidentally were destroyed. But you…?”
The Rescuer walks further inside the mountain, Alex following him, until they reach a large cave in which there in the centre is Stephen who is inside a cage, and a man who had to be Ervener. At the far side of the cave prisoners are digging up something.
“Forget about that time. It was a dream. I don’t care about it. Now I am more powerful than you. I have this in my hand.” says Ervener shaking a small red leaved Tree. “You know it is magical. Do you think The Mysterious One made a mistake that day? No. I stole this magical Tree from him, because he left me without a job in the mission. I knew this Tree was everything. This Tree wants blood and I found it easy to feed this Tree. Can you see how? Look around. Do you think these people are simple prisoner? No. Their blood feeds my Tree. Now be careful in what I am saying to you. I am very rational on my speech. Don’t get yourself mixed-up in this rubbish mission, if you want to live.”
“What? What?” says The Rescuer in disbelief.
Ervener points at Stephen in the cage. “This is your friend?” He points at Alex
He is your helper?” He laughs loudly.
Stephen shakes the bars of his cage. “They kidnapped me. Help me please!” he shouts.
“Don’t be scared Stephen.” The Rescuer says to him. He turns to Ervener. “Are you serious about this?”
“Serious? You make me laugh. This is only the beginning. You can never destroy me. You know much better than me that our mission was not to kill humans, but to protect them from bad things happening to them and I am half human and half like you. I am inside this human body and now I have double power in this world. I am the leader, I am everything.”
“This is the beginning you say?” says The Rescuer starting to get angry.
“Yes. Do you want to know more?”
“You are a traitor.” says The Rescuer now angry.
“Listen! Don’t say that to me. This word is no longer in my mind. I have called you a traitor and now nobody listens to you.”
“Let the kids go, Ervener! This is not about them. It is about you and me.”
“And you are going to destroy me?” Ervener laughs.
“Ok. No mercy for you.” replies The Rescuer.
The Rescuer pushes a button in his laptop computer and flash of light mixed red and yellow surrounds Ervener’s body. Ervener shakes his Tree and the light stands in middle like somebody is holding it in their hands. Ervener swishes The Tree quickly and fire coloured leaves go straight for The Rescuer. It looked as if The Rescuer’s body had been engulfed in flames. The Rescuer screams. Ervener laughs. As Ervener thought that The Rescuer is destroyed, The Rescuer span so quickly that a tornado was created. The strong gust of wind flew to Ervener and picked him, crashing him into a cliff. His body exploded into many pieces. Every piece of him fell to the ground and howled as it touched the earth. The Rescuer picks up The Tree, which Ervener had been holding and goes to free Stephen.
The Rescuer opens the door of the cage to let Stephen go, using the magic of The Tree. “Alex, Stephen. It is over. This Tree will be our weapon. It will help us to finish our mission. Let’s go now.” He says.
Alex, Stephen and The Rescuer now know that their mission is going to be easy. Once the changes are made there would be no more evil. The world is safe. Alex glanced up. The sun was out and the birds flew over their heads.

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