The blue light cylinder

OCilindroDaLuzAzul-01

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this tale is part of the book:

The End Times Survival Guide
Ricardo Kelmer – Miragem Editorial, 2020
fantastic – horror – science fiction

What to do when the unexplainable suddenly barges into our reality and old truths are rendered useless? Where are we to go when the end of the world is upon us? In the nine short stories included in this book, none of them short of mystery and supernatural, people are amazed at events that challenge their understanding of reality and of themselves and trigger crisis situations so intense that people’s own survival is put at stake. This is a book about collective and personal apocalypses.

(script for a movie soon)

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THE BLUE LIGHT CYLINDER

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OCilindroDaLuzAzul-01Lila closed the door of the apartment and climbed down the stairs as quietly as possible. She made it to the sidewalk, looked around and ensured she was alone. Everybody had retired into their little apartments. She hoped the darkness of the street would cloak her movements as well as her dangerous intentions.

She walked on the deserted streets for some minutes. There were piles of garbage on the sidewalks and the light on nearly every lamppost was broken. She was near enough to hear the shots and bombs very clearly while the border of the district was fiercely disputed by the gangs. At the top of a building, a very large sign advertised the latest invention for personal safety: a flame-thrower to be installed in automobiles as a means of protection against robberies.

Lila stopped on a corner, crouched close to the wall and checked her watch. It was 22h00.

“He has to show up, he must not fail,” she thought.

A chill ran up her spine when the alarm went off on a loudspeaker on a lamppost nearby. She was now a violator of the curfew. Or rather “resting time,” as the Control preferred to refer to it. As a violator, she could be arrested and indicted as a contrarian. And a contrarian would not live to tell the story. She had no doubt that would be her fate if her plan didn’t work. Very well, she thought, wringing her hands with anxiety. It was all or nothing now.

While waiting, she remembered Mathias. At that very moment, he was lying on the couch in the apartment waiting for her and depended on the success of the operation to survive. He was very ill. He had resisted as much as he could, but was running out of strength now. Lila always told him it was just a momentary sickness, but he knew she was just trying to reassure him. They both knew Mathias had fallen ill with the typical disease of the rebels. Sooner or later, they all had the same symptoms: sadness and hopelessness. An overall weakness that would even prevent them from eating. Most of them would become emaciated and die. Looking for a hospital would be the same as surrendering, as the Control was very aware of the disease. The only choice they still had was to run away from the city.

Not resisting was the choice of the vast majority of people. At a time when the population was taken over by its own worst instincts, playing along was always the more convenient way. Poverty, violence, epidemics, nuclear experiments, environmental pollution, racial strife and religious terrorism – the world had fallen prey to its own dark side and few people could still remain sane amidst the oppressive and confusing reality.

Lila and Mathias knew about friends who had managed to escape from the city. In the beginning, they still received messages that were read with joy and hope. That was a few years ago however, when persecution of the contrarians and control of the roads still weren’t so strict. Escaping was almost impossible now.

“Lila, you do understand what you’re doing is very risky, don’t you?” Mathias had told her before she went out on the street that night. “This could be the end.”

“I know, my love. But the only thing we can still believe are those dreams.”

“I don’t know, I honestly don’t know anymore…” he replied, hanging his head low. The disease clouded his thinking and his hope.

“It’s our only chance, Mathias. If I don’t come back in two hours, I’ll be in a police station. Or dead. Either way, I will not turn you in, I promise.”

“You know nobody can resist their methods.”

She just kissed him tenderly and left. She closed the door slowly and climbed down the stairs very quietly so the neighbors wouldn’t notice.

*     *     *

One day, the cylinders arrived. Thousands of them began to come in ocean waves and nobody knew where they came from. They would simply turn up on the shores at dawn. They were about the size of regular soft drink bottles, made of transparent glass and only seemed to contain air. But there was a strange blue light inside them, a beautiful and intriguing blue hue that caught people’s attention from afar.

The press soon ran the story and many curious people ran to the beaches. The Control sprung into action immediately and troops were deployed to guard the shores and prevent the population from obtaining other cylinders. They also recovered many of those that had been picked up. But not all.

Then the rumors began to spread. People said that contrarians could escape using the cylinder. But nobody could explain how they did it, assuming they really did. The Control inspected boats and ships, questioned and arrested hundreds of people, everything with the utmost strictness. But the cylinders remained a mystery.

When Lila and Mathias heard about what was washing on the shore, they immediately remembered the dreams. Years before that, they had dreamed on the same night of a mysterious blue light hovering over the sea. They discussed the dream and the strong aura of hope that surrounded it. They had the same dream again other times, always very intense, and understood they should maintain their hope and be alert.

Lila still tried to get a hold of some cylinders, but the Control had already sent troops to the shores. So she acted upon it quickly. In just a few days, she made some necessary contacts, always very carefully. She had to get to the right people or else it would be like stepping on a land mine. After all the contacts had been made, they waited. They just had to bide their time until their order was delivered. But weeks passed slowly and the whole world around them seemed to be one immense alluring whirlpool that whispered, “give it up, it’s better to surrender…”

*     *     *

Lila saw him. The man was walking fast on the sidewalk, protected by the shadows. Lila felt her heart almost explode with so much anticipation. She glanced again at both sides then at the apartment windows. The street was deserted and there was nothing she could do except hope they weren’t seen.

“I am late because of the Hounds, lady. They have secured control of all entrances to the district.”

The man took a package out of his overcoat’s pocket and handed it over to her with care.

“Here you are. I don’t care what your intentions are, but no one has ever told me what it is good for.”

She carefully put the package in her backpack and gave him the money.

“You are the third person to ask me for that thing this month.”

“Who are the other two?”

“Nobody knows.”

The man turned around and quickly disappeared into the darkness of the street.

Lila could not find strength to move for a short while. Finally, she had the cylinder. It felt as if those strange dreams had suddenly materialized in her hands after many years. She felt like crying, crying for all the time spent in resistance, for all the hazards they had been through and for having believed the message of hope of the dreams since the beginning. She took a deep breath and the first step back home.

Every block on the way back seemed endless. She noticed that some people could see her from the windows in the buildings. She knew it only took one of those people to dial a number and a police car would be taking her away for disobedience in no time. And everything would be lost. She also knew that not everyone agreed with the reporting system, but those who disagreed wouldn’t dare to speak out. She and Mathias were alone, they and all the people who still had a modicum of rationality in that hellish scenario.

“Mathias?”

Mathias was lying on the couch. He opened his eyes slowly, waking up from a deep slumber.

“Is everything alright? Were you sleeping?”

“Yes,” he answered, still sleepy. He tried to remember what he had been dreaming… It seemed to be an interesting dream… but he couldn’t. Then he sat up and made a mental calculation of his partner’s movement in the room. “I’m glad you’re back. Was everything alright?”

“Yes. Here is the cylinder.”

Lila took the package out of the backpack and put it on the table. Distant sounds of shots and explosions could be heard through the window. The Hounds were gradually expelling all the other gangs from the district. They soon would accomplish their goal. They had much better weaponry and support from the Warriors of God, a gang from an adjacent district. Soon they would have the monopoly on drugs and weapons.

“What about you, are you OK?”

“Just a little nervous… But I feel better already.”

“Did you make sure you weren’t followed?”

“I wasn’t, rest assured.”

She sat next to him on the couch and hugged him. Mathias had no strength. A healthy diet helped him maintain his remaining sanity, but finding good food in their area was difficult.

“Lila, my love…” he said with his whitened eyes all watery. “This whole time you’ve been taking care of me and yourself all alone… You’ve taken so many risks…”

“Oh, Mathias, stop talking like that,” she interrupted him, caressing his thin grieved face. “You must be hungry. I’m going to fix you some delicious soup.”

While cooking for her partner, Lila remembered the day when he got tired. He had simply got tired. Her pleading had been useless on that day: Mathias just simply couldn’t swim upstream anymore and gave up. They had an argument and he went away, leaving a note in which he said he was sorry for not being as strong as she was and encouraged her to move on without him around to get in the way. She was a strong woman and would survive.

Two years later, she finally found Mathias in a psychiatric hospital. He was blind and in bad physical shape. He wouldn’t last long in that place, especially because the Control used to terminate people in such ill condition. Then she spent the rest of her savings to bribe a few authorities and get him out of that place.

For months she looked after him until he recovered some strength and hope. She tried to get him some work, but those two years had severely impacted his health so the best he could get were clandestine menial jobs that caused his condition to worsen even further.

That was fifteen years ago. The blindness didn’t bother him so much now. He had sharpened the other senses and developed accurate navigational skills based on sound, smell and air flow. But he was increasingly weak and had become disheartened again. Dying was just a matter of time and they knew it. Unless Lila could get one of the cylinders. But what exactly could the cylinders do for him?

“The man said this is the third cylinder he sells this month,” said Lila, checking up on the street from a corner of the window. “There are other conscientious people in this city. And I am sure all of them will escape successfully.”

“Now that we have the cylinder, what do we do?”

“Honestly, I don’t know.”

“It has to have some use,” he said while touching and smelling the cylinder. “But there isn’t any opening.”

Then it all happened. It was very fast. Mathias heard the door get knocked down and men shout that they were under arrest and should not try anything or they would die.

He sensed the quick displacement of air in the room and understood that Lila had been taken away from him. He felt the cylinder be pulled out of his hands. He tried to react and felt an object strike his head swiftly. He still had the reflex to move the neck slightly in an attempt to lessen the impact, but the pain was still very intense and he fell down, feeling he was going to pass out. Lila screamed and he realized she had already been immobilized. He wanted to tell her not to react, but he couldn’t.

He lay on the floor, remained quiet, and felt his head was bleeding. He tried to reorganize his perception of the room around him. There were four men. One of them had Lila. The other one was at the living room’s door. The third one was standing next to the table and certainly had the cylinder. The fourth one was very close. It must have been the one who had hit him with a weapon.

“God doesn’t want any violence, we already have enough of it,” said the one near the table. “So you tell us what the cylinder is for and we leave you alone.”

“Sure, you certainly think we believe that…” answered Lila.

“We can negotiate your lives. In your situation, that is a lot.”

So the Control still didn’t know how to use the cylinders, Mathias concluded, still laying on the floor. That was good news. But neither did he or Lila. They hadn’t even opened it.

“We’re waiting…” said the one near the table, who sounded like the boss.

“We don’t know what it’s for.” Lila’s voice came from another side, and Mathias could tell from its rhythm and inflection that she was very alert. He needed to buy more time, but was still groggy.

“Alright, let me get this straight. You bought an object, you paid a lot of money for it, but you don’t know what it does. That doesn’t sound very smart… Worthless bitch!!!”

The hard, blunt sound of a punch hurt Mathias’ feelings. He heard Lila groan and the sound of her body dropping on the floor. He wanted to scream, but had no strength.

“I give the filthy bitch five seconds to tell us how the cylinder works,” said the one near the table. Mathias noticed the fourth man had come closer. He felt the barrel of a gun touch his head. “That is, if you don’t want the floor to get dirty with the little blind man’s brains. Five… Four…”

“But I told you!” Lila screamed. “We didn’t get a chance to use it!”

“Three…”

“We don’t know, I swear!”

“Two…”

“Don’t do that, please!”

“One…”

“I’ll show you… how it works,” said Mathias. He finally had his voice back.

“Oh, the blind man can talk…”

Mathias stood up with difficulty. He felt dizzy and held onto the table to keep his balance. He asked where the cylinder was.

“Here it is. And don’t try anything funny.”

Mathias took the cylinder with both hands and held it firmly. He figured the man at the door was still there on the same spot. The one near the table was standing next to him. The third one was still holding Lila. The fourth man had stepped back a little, but certainly still pointed the gun at him.

“I’m very weak… I don’t know if I can open it,” he said.

“You’re not only blind, you’re also a liar.”

“He is ill, stupid!” screamed Lila.

Mathias quickly figured out that Lila was standing up again. She was standing up and realized she needed to speak so he could determine her location.

“Then you open it, bitch. No tricks.”

Mathias felt the fourth man come closer. He understood he was going to take the cylinder from his hands. At that precise moment, he understood he was not supposed to hand it over. It was a strange realization, as if he had always known it. He opened his hands and let the cylinder drop…

The cylinder, however, did not hit the floor: the man was quick and snatched it at the very last moment. Knowing there was nothing else left to do, Mathias leaped on the man near the table, the one that seemed to be the boss. He leaped and tackled the man and they were both thrown against the wall. His hands found a gun on his opponent’s holster. But he couldn’t grab it. The other man was strong and he was too weak. The man pushed him away and hit him in the face. He was knocked over.

He tried to stand up, but he couldn’t. He felt the taste of blood in his mouth. He noticed that Lila was screaming and trying to reach him, but was being held. He was lying on the floor when he got kicked twice. The first kick broke a few of his ribs and the second one broke a few of his teeth. The taste of blood again. A lot of pain. More strikes on the head, chest, the entire body. Then he didn’t feel anything anymore. No pain, nothing. He just fell asleep slowly…

*     *     *

OCilindroDaLuzAzul-01“Mathias?”

He heard the voice brought by the sea waves, the sounds breaking in some distant shore of his thoughts…

“Is everything alright?”

He opened his eyes. He saw he was lying on the bed.

“Yes, everything is OK…”

“You were groaning. I was worried.”

Mathias sat up and rubbed his eyes. He recognized the bedroom in the lodge on the beach where they used to spend the weekend with friends, the lamp turned on, the distant sound of the sea… And Lila was by his side.

“I had a dream… such a strange dream…”

“Here, drink a little,” she said, handing him a glass of water.

“A world of authoritarianism and oppression… It was a hard, dangerous life… I was blind and you took care of me. There were these weird cylinders with a blue light…”

“And what happened?”

“We were captured, something like that. And they killed us.”

“Ouch, that’s awful.”

“I think I never had a dream so… so real.”

“It was just a dream, my love, everything is OK now,” she said, yawning. “Shall we sleep? We’re going on a boat ride with our friends tomorrow, early in the morning.”

He didn’t answer. He was still remembering the dream.

“You can tell me more tomorrow. I am really tired.”

Lila pulled the covers on and cuddled with Mathias. He stretched his arm, turned off the lamp and the bedroom was dark, only lit by the moon through the window slits. He made himself comfortable in the warmth of his girlfriend’s body and tried to sleep. The images and the atmosphere of the dream, however, kept coming back. The feeling of being blind under Lila’s care, fighting together, everything was very real. And the cylinder with that mysterious light, that blue…

“Lila?”

“Hmmm…”

“Look at me.”

She opened her sleepy eyes and her face was lit by the moon. He smiled and confirmed that her eyes were the same color as the light of the cylinder.

“What is it?” she asked, curious.

“Thank you, my love.”

“For what?”

“For existing.”

She laughed.

“If you don’t let me sleep, I’ll be a zombie tomorrow…”

She kissed him, pressed her body against his and tried to sleep again. He smiled happily. He fell asleep in that position, enjoying the quiet melody that emanated from the presence of the woman he loved so much.

*     *     *

OCilindroDaLuzAzul-01“Mathias?”

Mathias was lying on the couch. He opened his eyes slowly, waking up from a deep slumber.

“Is everything alright? Were you sleeping?”

“Yes,” he answered. He tried to remember what he had been dreaming. It seemed to be an interesting dream… But he couldn’t. Then he sat up and made a mental calculation of the his partner’s movement in the room. “I’m glad you’re back. Was everything alright?”

“Yes, here is the cylinder.”

Lila took the package out of the backpack and put it on the table.

“I remember now!”

“What?”

“The dream.”

“What dream?”

“It was so real. We were in a lodge on the beach… It was a good time, we had friends, we were happy. And I could see.”

“What about Control?”

“There wasn’t any Control.”

Lila was moved and smiled.

“Maybe that other world exists.”

“It does, Lila. I know it does.”

Mathias stood up and walked up to where she was, next to the table.

“Is this the cylinder?” he asked, feeling the package.

“Yes.”

He opened the package and held the cylinder with care.

“Is the light on?”

“Yes,” she answered. “And it really is blue.”

“The color of your eyes…” he whispered.

“My eyes are brown, my love. Did you forget?”

He smiled. And it was a purely peaceful smile.

“No. They’re blue.”

He immediately opened his hands and let the cylinder drop…

*     *     *

OCilindroDaLuzAzul-01Two men kept watch at the door and the window while another man examined the two bodies on the floor.

“We’re five minutes late,” he said.

“Are they dead?” asked the other man, next to the table.

“Yes, boss. No marks, no blood.”

“Holy shit.”

While the three other men put the bodies in bags and carried them away, the boss crouched and began to pick up the shards of glass scattered on the floor. That was driving him crazy. It was always the same thing: contrarians inexplicably dead, always with a serene look on their faces, as if they were sleeping, and the damned cylinder shattered on the floor. He had broken a few cylinders himself already, but nothing had happened. What the hell was going on?

He put the glass shards in the briefcase, closed it and walked to the exit. He took one last glance at the room, turned off the light and left, slamming the door.

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Ricardo Kelmer – blogdokelmer.com

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.

(script for a movie soon)

.

this tale is part of the book

The End Times Survival Guide
Ricardo Kelmer – Miragem Editorial, 2020
fantastic – horror – science fiction

What to do when the unexplainable suddenly barges into our reality and old truths are rendered useless? Where are we to go when the end of the world is upon us? In the nine short stories included in this book, none of them short of mystery and supernatural, people are amazed at events that challenge their understanding of reality and of themselves and trigger crisis situations so intense that people’s own survival is put at stake. This is a book about collective and personal apocalypses.

.

> Amazon (kindle) english/portuguese

> In portuguese – blog 

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