Saturday, 3 January 2015

Raving Metropolis 4

 Iliana walked along the Metropolis streets. The holidays lights and the shop signs assaulted her eyes, the crowd thousand voices and the ambulance sirens assailed her hearing. Her mind swayed, tired. And yet I slept... She didn't know anymore if she was inside a dream or she was awake. The flood of people all around her laughed, screamed, cheered, joked... but their faces were just white and blank mask to her eyes. Empty, empty... you all are just empty! She wanted to shout it, but she knew better than let the others think she was crazy. Her children would have been taken away from her, she wouldn't see them again.
She stood to watch inside a shop window. She didn't see anything. Tiredness seemed to gnaw at her bones, but it wasn't physical, it wasn't her body to be tired. It was an always present tiredness, like something was sucking constantly her strength in the same way a leech sucks blood. On the window glass the lights were blurred reflections, the mirrored faces passed by were hazy and fast. She wanted to go home and have a shower to wash away from her body the smell of no clean humanity, the smell of her supervisor who got any chance to rub himself against her. Eating something... what? I need to buy some food... Put the kids to bed, sleeping. The night would pass quick as a breath, no scents to keep into her lungs, just vaguely nauseating smells. Then awake again, before dawn, in the cold, to go to work in a coughing and sniffling city, which walked dragging the feet.
What was there in that shop window? Why did I stop to watch? A face was reflected on the glass, big, open-wide eyes, full of a lucid madness, the vulgar mouth open in an indecent chuckle showing pointed teeth. Scared, Iliana turned suddenly. Nobody was behind her, just the crowd passing by indifferent. She turned back towards the shop window and that wicked glare was there. Shivering, Iliana left towards the station, almost running, among shoves, indifference, loneliness, alienation.

The carriage was cold, even if full up of men and women of so many different races who consumed all the oxygen in it. Shrunken on the bottom seat Iliana couldn't stop shivering, shaken by what she didn't know. The other commuters were anonymous and featureless, isolated and unfathomable, surrounded by invisible walls and prisoners of themselves. The noise of the train, the scream of the air compressed between the coaches travelling at high speed and the tunnel's vault, were a new physical attack to her just deprived energy. And blended with the other noises, so vague and fragmented which could be a work of her imagination, a laugh. A wild cachination, demented, obscene. “Who are you? What do you want from me?” Iliana repeated whispering. Nobody could hear her, in the noise. Someone stared at her lips incessantly moving. You're crazy, the eyes of those people said. I don't want to share anything with you, the eyes of those strangers said. The laugh carried on resounding at the bottom of her ears.
Then a short walk from the station to home, passing in front of a graffiti covered high wall: Sleep. Eat. Work. Repeat. Dirty road, cold and humid wind, spoiled trees, drunkards and malevolent glares like just men are able to be malevolent when facing a woman. A little bit of tired bliss when back home... a home without warm... in the kids' greetings and hugs. The food she needed to buy forgotten, but the tiredness too much to get out again and back to the supermarket. A dinner made with what remained in the larder, children tired and listless. Then into the bed, under damp covers, in the dark but not in the silence. Screams at the next door, police's sirens somewhere not far, scratching of small paws inside the empty walls, a nasty argument on the road. Broken glasses. The sleep which struggles to come, tackled by an ache in every muscle. And still that laugh, almost held back, like to avoid to disturb her. Reason to find it even more scaring than on the train.
“Who are you? What do you want from me?” Questions whined under her breath while drifting into sleep.
I'm the engine of this city...
“Let me sleep... go away...”
A merry chuckle. I'll never leave you alone. You cannot split me from you.
Iliana sunk into a sleep full of nightmares. People without face shoved her on the road, malevolent faces laughed at her from the shop windows. Sleep. Eat. Work. Repeat. Demented cackle. Sleep. Eat. Work. Repeat. And the alarm, pitiless. A feeling of nausea, cold water on the face, a retch and a shiver of cold. A message for the kids. Then out into the humid dark with an empty stomach, stalking towards the station.
Iliana stopped suddenly when a figure materialized from behind a tree. Walk, a voice in her mind ordered. Or you'll be late at work, added mockingly. Iliana resumed her walk, stiff. The figure moved along with her.
-Who are you?
A sidelong glance, more perceived than seen, a look of amused stupor. Do you really want to know it? People never want to see me. When I take everything from them, they turn their head to the opposite direction. Even while I devour their soul, they speak up and stare in front of them, so to pretend it's not happening. Are you sure you want to know who I am?
-Who are you?- A quiver in her voice, a knot in her throat, while she walked stiff staring in front of her.
I'm the engine of this Metropolis. I'm your master.
A breath of satisfaction.
And now that you know who I am, I'll tell you who you are.
A chill run down Iliana's back.
You're nothing. You're my slave. You're fuel for the engine. I'll feed on your soul, then I'll discard you. And after yours, I'll devour your children's.
Tears... warm... Strange, Iliana thought, something warm... flowed down her chicks. They arrived insipid to her lips. When I was child they were more salted...
-I just wanted to be happy...- Iliana moaned, still walking towards the station, the voice broken with sobs. -I wanted... just... to be happy...
Happy? What an absurdity! You're not here to be happy. The voice fell silent and the figure disappeared.

In the depths of the Metropolis the Demon laughed, a laugh which ran along all the tunnels, taken far by the trains stuffed of bodies. From the hight of his towers alive of cranes, the Demon's eyes watched Iliana to complete her way to the station. Sleep. Eat. Work. Repeat. Not even a quick glance to the graffiti. And the Demon laughed. Laughed at Iliana's tears, laughed at the tiredness gnawing at her. Laughed at her desperation. Laughed at her defeat.

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