The strip-tease

25/03/2020

OStripTease-02

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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 STRIP-TEASE

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OStripTease-02“You shouldn’t drink so much, Zack.”

“Do you want a shot?”

“No, thank you. Why have you been drinking so much, Zack?”

“It’s in the program. Hang on, I’ll tell you about it.”

“I’m waiting.”

“You look beautiful.”

“Thank you. What about you? Been partying a lot?”

“Back in the day when we met, I was in my heyday. But now I’m taking a break from the nightlife.”

“Back in the day was just one year ago.”

“That’s right.”

“…”

“Giselle, I asked you to come here because I have something important to tell you.”

“I always suspected you were hiding something from me, since day one.”

“This is going to be the strangest thing you’re going to hear in your life. You’re going to think I lost my mind.”

“I know a lot of people think you’re crazy, but I know you’re not. You’re just a little eccentric. And kind of reserved.”

“You’re going to think I’m nuts. But I’ll say it anyway.”

“Zack, I like you a lot. I know you have your quirks. Everybody does. I just think you could open up a little more…”

“I know, you’ve told me that already. I’m going to tell you everything. But I’m sure you’re going to say I need to get some treatment and you’re going to remove me from your life.”

“Do you see someone standing over there, by your side?”

“Excuse me?”

“Is there anyone over there next to you? You keep looking and smiling as if there was someone there…”

“Hmmm… That’s the problem, Giselle. There is someone here by my side.”

“What do you mean?”

“That’s exactly what I want to talk about. Please listen. Listen first.”

“I’m listening.”

“So let’s begin. Uhhh… It all began one night when I was here with a girl. That was before I met you. We had arrived from the nightclub and she was in the bathroom. And I was on bed waiting. Then I saw him for the first time. Are you sure you don’t want to have a drink?”

“No, thank you.”

“He was sitting on the chair in front of my desk. I immediately thought: damn it, it’s a thief. I was naked on the bed and there was a thief in my bedroom. But I didn’t really get nervous. I guess because I was drunk. Then I said: OK, pal, you can take anything you want, my wallet is over there, there is a cool sound system in the living room, but please don’t do us any harm… Very well. He was the one who got shocked. He stood up, looked at me at close range and asked if I could really see him. He really acted as if he couldn’t believe it. ‘Do you really see me, Zack? Do you really see me right now?’ I was all puzzled, I thought he might be someone I knew or maybe he was on something… So I asked him where we had met before. He raised his arms and said, ‘Finally!!!’ Do you still want to listen?”

“Sure. I’m listening. So he was not a thief?”

“No. He was the Observer.”

“Who?”

“The Observer.”

“Oh, the Observer. Must be new in the neighborhood, no one I have met.”

“You don’t want to.”

“So was he a friend of yours?”

“He was the Observer, I told you.”

“Oh, yes…”

“I’m serious, Giselle. That’s his actual name.”

“OK. And who is the Observer?”

“Let’s talk about that. Observers are inhabitants of another dimension in time and space. They lead a regular life over there. But they have friends here and sometimes they have to come around and help the friend. They can’t go back to their world until they accomplish their mission. They get stuck in this time and space. That’s it. At least that’s what he told me.”

“Oh, you saw your guardian angel.”

“No, no, he is more like a demon. A very, very annoying demon.”

“Is that what you wanted to talk about?”

“This is serious, I swear.”

“OK. So?”

“Well, he explained it all to me later, but before that, the girl came into the bedroom and asked me whom I was talking to and I pointed at him. But she saw nobody. Then he told me that I was the only one who could see and hear him, nobody else, and that’s how it was supposed to work. The guy seemed ecstatic and said that his lonely days were over. Well, it turns out the girl thought the whole thing was too weird, put on her clothes and went away.”

“What about the guy?”

“He stayed there. I tried to touch him, but my hand just went through the image. So I told myself it was a very crazy dream and decided to sleep. On the following day, I woke up and he was still watching me.”

“Zack, I…”

“I know you don’t believe it, but let me tell you everything. You promised.”

“…”

“He told me he was on a secret mission. He said it was something that depended on me and that he would be able to leave if I did the right thing.”

“Look, Zack, I…”

“Wait…”

“I don’t know what’s happening to you, but…”

“Giselle, I swear it’s true. I am not crazy. Actually, I think it would be better if I were. It would be easier to put up with this annoying dude by my side all the time…”

“Are you telling me this is really serious?”

“Yes.”

“You’re not joking.”

“No.”

“Then tell me: ‘I am serious.’”

“I am serious.”

“Don’t laugh, Zack!”

“I’m sorry, but this situation is a little ridiculous.”

“It’s ridiculous of me to be here listening to this, this…”

“Do you want to go away?”

“…”

“If you want go, fine, I’ll just…”

“Please go on, I want to listen.”

“Where was I?”

“The Observer told you he was on a mission.”

“Right. He said I had to do something and he was here to help me do that something.”

“And you didn’t know what he meant.”

“I still don’t.”

“Not even a clue?”

“Well, he knows me like nobody else, it’s amazing. He’s made me think a lot about my life, he shows me what I’m doing wrong, my flaws… I feel very bad about it.”

“Everybody has flaws, Zack.”

“But I have this behavior police twenty-four hours a day, non-stop. It’s like he is part of me.”

“Was he with you before we started dating?”

“Yes, one year.”

“So when you met me, he was there with you?”

“Yes. He won’t leave me alone, Giselle. Remember how we met?”

“At the counter of the Mad Daddy bar.”

“Do you remember what I looked like?”

“Black pants and a blue shirt. Very handsome.”

“No, I’m talking about my state.”

“Drunk, of course.”

“And I was laughing a lot, wasn’t I?”

“You were having a good time.”

“Because of him. He anticipated everything I said, he knew all my pickup lines by heart. ‘Hi. Don’t you feel like a sausage in a can in these crowded bars?’ I would open my mouth to speak and he would speak ahead of me. So I laughed.”

“Oh, that was the reason?”

“He is a sadistic comedian, he pulls my leg all the time. He quickly hides in the crowd so I think I’m rid of him. When I least expect it, he comes up with some obnoxious one-liner. Remember once when we had a table at the Papillon and I had an uncontrollable fit of laughter?”

“You seemed to be demented.”

“Because of him. On that night, he appeared suddenly and stuck his head right here by my side and said, very sternly: ‘You’re staring so much I came here to hold you so you don’t fall inside her cleavage…’”

“My cleavage?!”

“I burst with laughter. You had a very showy cleavage and I couldn’t help picturing myself falling into it… You had no idea and I was laughing my pants off.”

“So that was because of my cleavage…”

“It was funny then. But this jerk has made my life hell. Because of him many people now think I am crazy.”

“Many people indeed.”

“Who can blame them? At first, I even thought it was fun, but then I grew increasingly upset. Then I didn’t care about my composure anymore and would bicker with him in front of anybody, saying he had no right to do that, it was a violation of individual liberties and cosmic ethics, and that…”

“Cosmic ethics?”

“I was desperate, I would say anything.”

“Tell me about it.”

“I got very angry at him. Do you know what it’s like to live with someone who knows all about you and keeps exposing your flaws, making fun of everything you do? That’s what he did. He never missed an opportunity. I felt naked. I couldn’t focus on anything anymore. I tried to read a book or see a film and I couldn’t. It was hell. He’s given me such an earful I lately began to realize there is lot about me that I need to change.”

“Like what?”

“Well… He made me see I had been acting in frivolous, superficial ways, that I had been a phony to myself. And he made me realize I act like I always think I have the answer to everything.”

“He did that?!”

“He did.”

“And you understood that?!”

“I had to. He won’t forgive anything. I was talking to someone and shared an opinion… That was it, he would come along and bug me. I ignored him for a while, but it became unbearable. If he were made of flesh and bones, I would have kicked his ass already.”

“And has he always been around, even when we are together?”

“Yes, yes.”

“Even in… those moments?”

“Even in those moments.”

“So he’s seen me naked many times.”

“There was nothing I could do, Giselle. Please understand.”

“Did he see everything?”

“He is attached to my soul, to my energy. I can’t do anything about that either.”

“I can’t believe this…”

“Now do you understand why I’ve never been able to relax with you? He was always around watching… The only way I could forget about him a little was drinking. It was more convenient to get drunk so I wouldn’t think about certain things.”

“Listen, Zack… I… don’t even know what to think. I don’t know whether I should be upset or laugh at this ludicrous story…”

“You may laugh, I don’t mind.”

“I don’t know if I should stay here and keep listening to this… this nonsense… I don’t know.”

“I had to tell you.”

“Why me? We haven’t talked to each other in weeks.”

“It was his suggestion. He thought you would understand. ‘Why don’t you tell Gis? She is a sensitive person, she might help…’”

“He calls me Gis?”

“Yes. He does take that liberty.”

“Is he here now?”

“He’s sitting right here. He is laughing a lot at this ridiculous situation, the devil. Ask him something.”

“Me?”

“Yes, ask something.”

“Uh… I don’t know.”

“He is saying you dance very well.”

“Has he seen me dance?”

“He was with me at your group’s performance.”

“Oh… That’s nice. Tell him I said ‘thank you.’”

“Say it, he can hear you.”

“Uuuh… Thank you, Mr. Observer… Gee, Zack! This situation is really…”

“Ha, ha, ha, ha!”

“…”

“I’m sorry. It was funny.”

“Zack, you brought me here to have a serious conversation. I came because I believed you. So I come here and you talk about this Observer character. Fuck!”

“…”

“Zack, if you were in my shoes, what would you do now? Say it honestly.”

“…”

“Tell me, what would you do?”

“Honestly? I think I’d stand up, walk out that door and adieu.”

“That’s what I’m going to do. But first let me tell you one thing: quit drinking, Zack. Or at least drink less if you don’t want to make it all worse. And if you’re drinking to avoid having to face certain things about yourself, then I am sorry to inform you that you’re going down the worst possible path.”

“…”

“Good-bye, Zack. And good-bye to your friend…”

“…”

“Does he have a name?”

“I call him Nagsie.”

“Nagsie?”

“Yes, Nagsie. Isn’t it cute?”

“Nagsie, the Observer… Good-bye, Nagsie. Don’t let Zack drink too much.”

*     *     *

OStripTease-02“I told you. You weren’t supposed to spill it all at once like that. You should have done it slowly.”

“Now it’s done, Nagsie.”

“What if you lost Gis forever?”

“Whatever will be, will be.”

“Sounds like you did it to get rid of her.”

“If she liked me as much as you say, then she should have understood the situation better.”

“She needs time, Zack.”

“Now it’s done.”

“Call her again. Now that she knows about me, never mind that she thinks you really are crazy. She is not very normal either. Two beers is all it takes for her to do backflips in the middle of the street…”

“At least she’s a good dancer.”

“You ain’t seen nothing…”

“Hey! What do you know about her that I don’t?”

“Forget it, I was thinking out loud. Come on, Zack, call her.”

“I can’t call her again, Nagsie! You saw what happened, she is convinced I’ve lost my mind.”

“She likes you.”

“I like her too. Always did, you know that. But I made one mistake after another.”

“Of course, you’re always drunk…”

“Because of you.”

“And I am here because of you. So it is up to you to do something about it.”

“And I am doing. I’m boozing myself to death in the hope of getting rid of the annoyance of having you around.”

“Zack, you dim-witted numbskull. Gis is the woman who can help you and encourage you to go down the best path. But you’re scared senseless of that which you need the most. You’re a fool.”

“If she has the chance, she will have me committed.”

“Call her and invite her for a nice place.”

“Blue Night Motel. Suites with erotic chair.”

“Make it at the Spy. Invite her to drink some juice. Please, no alcohol.”

“I’ve told you not to ask me that. I’ll drink if I want to.”

“How can I not ask that, you moron?! Drinking is ruining your life.”

“YOU are ruining my life!”

“You’re the one ruining mine with your ineptitude! I could be home with my family now! But nooooo, I have to be here with you while you choose playing characters instead of being yourself!”

“…”

“…”

“Listen, Nagsie, I didn’t drink for a week and it didn’t help at all. You still kept bugging me.”

“Seven days of sobriety are not going to fix your problems, dumbass. Look at yourself and see what has to be changed.”

“If I knew, I would change it.”

“You know it.”

“I don’t, I’ve told you!”

“Yes, you do!”

“If I did, I would’ve changed it just so I could get rid of you, stooge!”

“Oh, you think I take pleasure in watching your stupid binge drinking and your lame pickup lines, ‘Hi, I know I’m a simple subject, but love is a compound and this situation predicates that we should be together…’ Not to mention your terrible sexual performance…”

“Then go to hell! On second thought, stay where you are. I don’t care if I die from alcohol poisoning. Knowing that you share my fate, I’m going to have a hell of a time with it. We will both go to Hell.”

*     *     *

OStripTease-02“Hi, Giselle.”

“So you invited me to drink juice… You must be feeling pretty bad.”

“I haven’t drunk at all since that day.”

“Really?”

“Really.”

“And what happened?”

“I decided to take a break. What do you want?”

“Apple. No sugar, please.”

“Then two. Mine with sugar.”

“So, is Nagsie tagging along?”

“Sure.”

“Is he here now?”

“He just sat down. But we are not speaking to each other.”

“Why?”

“Disagreements. It happens.”

“Oh.”

“…”

“…”

“Don’t bother looking, Giselle, you can’t see him.”

“It was a reflex. Damn, Zack, this conversation is going to make me as crazy as you, you know that?”

“At least you’re going to understand me.”

“So you two had a falling out? Did he say something that upset you?”

“Let’s talk about something else. Are you OK?”

“I’m fine.”

“I can see that. You’re gorgeous as usual.”

“You look good too.”

“…”

“What are you laughing at, Giselle?”

“It doesn’t matter.”

“Tell me.”

“It’s silly. I was reflecting upon the irony of the situation.”

“What do you mean?”

“When I finally meet an interesting guy, he is involved with an invisible man.”

“Yes, that’s unlucky…”

“I was a little rude the last time. I want to apologize.”

“Anyone else would have reacted the same.”

“I was going to call you.”

“You were?”

“I was curious about Nagsie.”

“Really?”

“I was thinking… Doesn’t he sleep?”

“He sleeps when I do. He wakes up when I do. But he’s never hungry or thirsty, he can’t do anything except watch me.”

“That doesn’t sound like fun.”

“I wouldn’t want to be in his place.”

“Does he like you?”

“Our relationship is odd. We like and hate each other. It was worse in the beginning. I could barely sleep while he was watching me. Imagine doing everything with someone watching, such as having a shower, taking a dump, jerking off… What about getting laid? Impossible, right? Or you can get drunk and forget about it.”

“What does he think about your drinking?”

“He says I’m escaping.”

“Are you?”

“Maybe. But I think it would be easier without him hanging around.”

“Then you wouldn’t have made the realizations you did about your life. I think that Nagsie, if he really exists…”

“He does.”

“Right. I think Nagsie is saving you the money you’d have to spend on therapy, you know?”

“And who says I’d pay for therapy?”

“Zack, why don’t you come and spend a weekend with me in the mountain? That would be really nice.”

“Are you serious?”

“I would love it.”

“I don’t know, Giselle. I have work to do…”

“Oh, come on, Zack. I’ll cook for you.”

“What else?”

“I’ll let you have the TV remote.”

“I didn’t ask your opinion.”

“Excuse me?”

“I was talking to the buzzkill over here.”

“Nagsie? What did they say?’

“He said he’ll forget my flaws for a week if I go to the mountain with you.”

“…”

“Are you looking at him again, Giselle?”

“What? Oh, right. I’m already acting as if there really were someone there. I think his proposal is pretty good, Zack.”

“How do you know she has that CD?”

“What?”

“The idiot here. He’s talking nonsense.”

“What did they say?”

“He’s telling you not to forget to bring your CD with erotic songs. Do you have that kind of CD?”

“Wait a minute, how does he know that?”

“Yeah, how do you know that, Nagsie? Hmm… Oh, OK. He said he doesn’t know, it was just a hunch.”

“Very strange…”

“I don’t know that we can believe everything this nutjob says. But forget about him, Giselle. So, can I really have the TV remote?”

*     *     *

OStripTease-02“Is he looking now?”

“Absolutely.”

“Yes or no, Zack?”

“Aw, Giselle, I’m not going to turn around and check. Have patience.”

“He is not gay, is he?”

“I don’t think so.”

“What does he think of me?”

“He likes you. Couldn’t you tell when we were at the Spy? He was more supportive than anyone of this idea of coming here, to the mountain.”

“Don’t you mind his watching us getting it on?”

“I had forgotten about that, Giselle.”

“I’m sorry…”

“…”

“…”

“Come on here, come on…’

“Hang on, Zack, I’m going to put on the CD again…”

*     *     *

OStripTease-02“Congratulations, pain in the ass, you kept the promise. One week with your mouth shut.”

“I did it for us both, buddy.”

“I even got to focus on others things, did you see that?”

“Yes. It’s been a rather positive week.”

“Do you think we are a good couple?”

“We? Definitely not.”

“Giselle and I, smart aleck.”

“Yes, of course. Nothing is better for you than that woman, bro. Gis is wonderful. She is pretty, smart, affectionate… And she has a pretty nice body, if you ask me.”

“She’s danced since when she was fifteen.”

“You should ask her to dance for you.”

“Hmmm… Good idea.”

“Something tells me that someone is in love…”

“More or less.”

“Admit it, man.”

“Holy shit. Admit what, Nagsie?”

“That you’re crazy about her.”

“I’ll think about it.’

“Admit it already. Who do you think you’re fooling?”

“Nagsie, shut up.”

“You were speaking on the phone today and you wrote nothing but her name all over an entire sheet of paper. Didn’t you see that?”

“I was testing the pen.”

“Ah, yes, of course.”

“…”

“So will you admit it or not?”

“Holyfuckingshit, Nagsie, you are annoying as hell!”

“Will you admit it or not?”

“I said I’m going to think about it.”

“Think about what, man? It’s obvious. Have you seen yourself in the mirror? Have you?”

“Aw, geez…”

*     *     *

OStripTease-02“Don’t you want a little glass of wine too?”

“No, thanks. You’ll be drinking alone today.”

“No harm in just a little glass, Zack…”

“Later, later.”

“Alright then. I’m going to pour another one for me. Hey, do you mind if I talk to Nagsie too?”

“Fine by me.”

“Great. Nagsie, how do you like my apartment?”

“He says you have very good taste.”

“Hmmm, thank you. And what does he think about us having a serious relationship?”

“Us who, Giselle?”

“You and I, Zack, of course. How can you even think I mean Nagsie?”

“That question was not in the script…”

“Oh, so questions for him have to be vetted first, is that right?”

“Alright, alright. What you think about that, Nagsie?”

“I think it’s a great idea!”

“Giselle, don’t meddle! Do you want him to answer or not?”

“I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist it… Come on, ask him again.”

“He is laughing at your impression of him. It’s terrible, by the way.”

“It’s good to know he has a sense of humor.”

“In fact, he does. When he is not concerned with shaping my character.”

“Has he stopped laughing yet?”

“He said he will date you if I don’t.”

“Then you two decide already. I don’t have all night.”

“I think you’re a little tipsy…”

“And you are blushing! Whenever we talk about dating, you get all embarrassed… Have you seen my glass of wine?”

“Nagsie has a message for you.”

“Yay! I am totally listening.”

“He says there is only one way he won’t look at you when we have sex.”

“And what is it?”

“If we have a threesome with a girl. If we do that, he will stare at the other one out of respect for you.”

“Did you really say that, Nagsie?”

“He said, ‘Of course, my sweet darling…’”

“Well, I’ll tell you what. I don’t care if he wants to watch me… You may look, Nagsie.”

“Well, I care.”

“I think Nagsie said nothing like that, you fool… You want to live your sex fantasy of having a threesome with another woman and pretend it’s poor Nagsie’ idea…”

“Seriously, he said that.”

“You’re lying. Did you really say that, Nagsie?”

“I really did, my two-scoop ice cream…”

“Let him speak, Zack!”

“I’m just repeating whatever he says.”

“Come on, Zack, what did he say?”

“He is not going to answer because he is laughing his pants off at your intoxication, Giselle.”

“Well, now I’m going to show him I possess other qualities… Let me turn off the light first. Where did I place my glass of wine?”

“What are you going to do?”

“A special little song for you two… Excuse me, let me turn on the table lamp. Ah, it’s perfect now.”

“Nagsie says I should have something to drink too, because I’m feeling very tense…”

“I agree. Where is the CD?”

“You’re almost sitting on it.”

“Ouch! That’s right! Hmmm, let me see… I think it’s number seven… Correct!”

“I can’t believe it. Are you going to do a strip-tease for me?”

“For you two. Nagsie, take a seat, make yourself comfortable.”

“He sat down a long time ago.”

*     *     *

OStripTease-02“Is he looking now?”

“I don’t want to turn my head around right now.”

“Did he enjoy the strip-tease?”

“He couldn’t take his eyes off of you.”

“Really?”

“He even got emotional about it.”

“What about you?”

“If I enjoyed it? Damn! I’ll never forget it.”

“…’

“You’re so beautiful, Gis…”

“…”

“Gis?”

“What?”

“Is that proposal still standing?”

“Which one?”

“Our relationship.”

*     *     *

OStripTease-02“Zack…”

“Hmm…”

“Listen, I have to go, my bus has arrived. When you wake up, I won’t be here anymore.”

“Hmmm…”

“Happy trails, buddy. You’re a nice guy. Sorry if I was rude sometimes, but we were on the same boat, you know. I am proud of you.”

“Hmmm…”

“This woman likes you, don’t lose her. Gis is going to make you very happy. You’ll see, wonderful children… Grab your chance now, man. The future is just a matter of choice. And you just don’t find strip-tease like that everywhere…”

“Hmmmm…”

“Good-bye, buddy.”

*     *     *

OStripTease-02“Good morning, son.”

“Good-morning, Nestor. Shall we go home?”

“Home, yes. I bet you miss it, don’t you? You’ve been away for one year.”

“That’s right. The Other One was a handful.”

“I can imagine. I even thought you were going to request some extended time. Get yourself a beer in the fridge, son.”

“Thank you. Empty bus, Nestor.”

“It’s been like that this week.”

“Don’t you have anybody else to pick up?”

“I had Felicia. But she asked for an extended time.”

“So she hasn’t made it yet? What a shame.”

“Felicia is the architect, you know.”

“Yes. She came to make sure her Other One won’t quit her studies. Hmm, good beer.”

“But the Other One quit. She’s studying Law now. Felicia really wanted to kill the Other One, but she can’t.”

“We definitely want to kill them.”

“But Felicia asked for the extended time. She said she will not quit until the Other One goes back to architecture school.”

“Extended time is a double-edged knife. If we don’t go to extremes to accomplish the mission, we drive the Other One crazy then everything is lost. If I had asked for the extended time, my Other One would have gone insane too and lost Gis forever.”

“Don’t tell anybody, son, but I think we are not going to see our friend Felicia again. The situation is really difficult for her.”

“That is very sad.”

“I feel sorry when the person discovers that their future will be lost. It’s been happening more frequently lately, do you know that? When people get on this bus, I know that many won’t make it back and I feel sorry for them. I don’t know what it’s like not to be able to come back, but I imagine it’s the most terrible thing in the world.”

“It is. But when we get the calling to come to the past, we know there’s always a chance of not coming back.”

“The damnedest thing is that we always harbor the hope that our future is going to be successful, don’t we?”

“Yes. When I think that pig-headed idiot could let Gis slip through his fingers, I feel sick to the stomach…”

“But tell me, how did it go?”

“My Other One is a very stubborn young man, Nestor.”

“Ah, but we all have been like that once.”

“And he became a hard boozer after I came along, you just had to see it.”

“If my memory serves, you also enjoyed the occasional drink…”

“Yes, I did.”

“Giselle was the one who fixed you.”

“That’s true. But the Other One was drinking a lot more than me.”

“So is he going to be with her?”

“Yes. It’s in the bag.”

“Then it’s alright. But tell me, what was it like to see young Giselle?”

“Oh, Nestor, I thought I was going to pass out…”

“Hehehe, I can imagine.”

“I would do anything to secure our hypothetical future, you know.”

“Yeah, do I know.”

“Can I tell you a secret, Nestor?”

“Yes, son.”

“I came here on this mission because Gis and I would be deactivated if I didn’t come. We and our children. But I was also dying to see the strip-tease she had done for me when we started dating… Oh, how badly I wanted that!”

“You don’t say!”

“Oh, you have no idea… That strip-tease performance made me go into a serious relationship with her.”

“And did she do it again?”

“Yes. It was just last night. Exactly the same as she had done before, the same exactly…”

“So that’s why you came in here with that look on your face… So the mission is accomplished?”

“Of course! After that performance, the Other One will marry her tomorrow if she asks.”

“Then it’s alright.”

“The things we’ll do for a woman…”

“The things we’ll do!”

“We’ll do anything.”

“You bet!”

“Even putting up with oneself in the past.”

“Sure thing.”

“We’ll even get married, Nestor.”

“That’s what I always say.”

“We most certainly do.”

“Most certainly.”

“We do get married.”

“We do.”

“That’s right.”

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Ricardo Kelmer – blogdokelmer.com

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(script for a movie soon)

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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.

.

> Amazon (kindle) english/portuguese

> In portuguese – blog 

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Something is rotten in the 202

25/03/2020

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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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SOMETHING IS ROTTEN IN THE 202

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My cousin Helen I and were so united we always looked like two sisters. The same age and same tastes. At school, we sat next to each other and ran around the school yard holding hands, happy like two birds. In fact, Helen was the only friend I ever had.

It was the best time of my life. We were children and the whole world was a set piece in one big child’s play. Then we were almost teenagers and the world became an endless source of wonderment. Both of us were marveled and scared at the possibilities that life laid ahead of us. And we had each other to protect ourselves and trust our secrets.

She used to sleep over on weekends and our nights were packed with endless conversations, our favorite songs and our shared diaries. When we began to get interested in boys, we kissed one another as practice for the kisses we’d actually do on them. And in the darkness of my bedroom we would mutually teach ourselves the pleasures our bodies had to offer.

Helen had a meaning for me. The only one.

One night, I showed her a photo of the dawn, a very beautiful page of a magazine. I asked her if she had ever seen the sunrise. She said she hadn’t, but she knew about a secret and asked me if I could keep something extremely confidential for the rest of my life. I said yes, she could trust me.

“Then promise you will never betray me.”

“I promise I will never betray you,” I replied with all the earnestness of the moment that enveloped us like music.

“Never, ever.”

“I promise I will never, ever betray you,” I reiterated, kissing my fingers in the shape of a cross.

Then she locked my bedroom door and made me sit down on the bed by her side. She whispered to my ear that there were no children on the other side of the night, and that was why grownups wouldn’t let them stay awake to see the dawn. But one day, when we were grownups, we would cross the night together fearlessly and we would see the dawn. That was the secret. And her promise.

I hugged her with confidence in her words and we slept together that night sharing an embrace protected from all evil, forever sharing a secret and a promise that united us even more.

One day, her family had to move to another city and Helen went away. We cried copiously, very sorry about this sad development. I kissed her with all my tenderness and told her I loved her. She wiped my tears, said she also loved me and would do everything possible so we could be reunited soon.

But life wouldn’t be as simple as our child’s plans. The two cities were far apart and our families were not rich. We couldn’t meet during vacation and we had to get by with our almost daily letters because the few minutes we had on the telephone were nowhere near enough for everything we had to say. However, Helen’s letters gradually took a week then a month then several months… One day, they stopped coming altogether. Saddened by her silence, I insisted and wrote even more. But she never replied again. I cried my heart out to Mom and she consoled me saying that there were other nice girls and I would find other friends.

Unfortunately, Mom was wrong.

One day, four years and twenty-five days after her departure, I was told that Helen was in the city and would come over to have dinner with us. I was ecstatic. I cleaned up the bedroom, replaced the curtain and put new linen and blankets on the bed.

When the door opened, I had two surprises. Helen was different. She had grown, she was a woman. She was even more beautiful. The other surprise was the young man she had brought with her. He was her boyfriend. She hadn’t mentioned him. I didn’t know. He was nice, but I didn’t feel comfortable in his presence. She shouldn’t have brought him to our house.

Helen hugged me and kissed me tenderly and said she had missed me. I asked her why she hadn’t replied my letters. She said she didn’t have time to write, but always read them all. I asked her if she had kept them. She laughed, looked at my mother and said “yes.”

We all had dinner together and Helen told me the news. She told me about my uncles and that she was taking the acceptance examination for a Physics course at the end of the year. She wanted to be a scientist. I couldn’t stop looking at her. She was so beautiful!

After dinner, we went to the living room to watch television. I sat between Helen and her boyfriend so he wouldn’t be able to kiss her. Later on, Mom suggested that she stay to sleep over. To my joy, Helen accepted. Then she saw her boyfriend off, specifying the time for him to stop by and pick her up on the following day. He left and I locked the door.

I let Helen have my bed. I would sleep in the hammock. When we were alone in the bedroom, I pulled the chest from under the bed. I opened it up and showed her my most valuable treasure: our old CDs, our photos, my diaries, all of her letters and the notes we had exchanged during classes.

She was surprised at everything. She couldn’t believe I had really kept all those things for so long. She held two locks of hair taped to a yellow ribbon with curiosity, and I said those were ours. Didn’t she remember we used to have our hair cut together? Helen read passages in my diary where I had written about my grief for being far from her and, at that moment, her voice sounded like a sweet song that sang about the feeling of missing someone. I asked her if she still loved me.

She stopped reading and looked at me. She brought me closer to her on the bed. I sat down by her side. She straightened my hair out and said she liked me very much and she would never forget our friendship. I asked her if she still knew how to kiss. She laughed and said “yes.” I kissed her mouth. She corresponded for a few seconds, but then she stepped away. I asked her if she hadn’t liked it. She said that what had happened between us was child’s play, we were teenagers now, almost grownups, and soon we would be in college.

I told her she was wrong, our love was not child’s play, I had never forgotten her for even one minute and she still was the most important thing in the world for me. She looked at me tenderly and hugged me. She said she would never forget the moments we had shared, she remembered everything tenderly and, in spite of the time and the distance, I still was her favorite cousin. I insisted and asked again if she still loved me. “Yes,” she answered, but now we should have those memories kept in a box and mind our own lives, move on.

She picked everything up and put it back in the chest. She locked it and handed me the key. I tried to understand what she was doing, but I was confused. She said it was already late, she had to sleep and get up early.

Helen slept. I didn’t. I spent all night sitting on the floor next to the bed, watching over her sleep so nothing bad would happen to her. She was so beautiful sleeping she looked like an angel. The ray of light that came in through the window caressed her face… The moon was jealous and also wanted to kiss her. Like I had kissed her.

After some time, I looked through the window and I saw it was… dawn! I stood up and went up to the window. I opened the curtain and the window. The sky was not all dark anymore. It was beginning to change color behind the buildings. The darkness was being replaced by the beautiful orange clouds and some light beams seemed to pierce through them and spear up higher above. It was dawn, the first one I witnessed in my whole life.

I smiled with a strange feeling, a combination of triumph and discomfort. And fear. The sunrise was beautiful, but I admired it and was afraid of it at the same time. So that was the world of which my cousin had spoken, the world where she once promised we would go together… But I didn’t know if I wanted to go. I wasn’t happy with the idea of a world without children. I was rather confused.

I looked at Helen. She slept on the bed. And the sight of her face filled me with courage. I kneeled next to her and called her. I wasn’t afraid to go with her. I called her so we could keep the promise she once had made, that we would go together into the world of grownups.

She moved around in bed, whispered something and resumed her sleep. I called her again, she had to get up, we had to go in together, I wasn’t going without her. But she said it was early and she had to sleep, and told me to sleep too. I called her again. She looked at me angrily and said she would call my mother if I didn’t go back to my hammock.

I stepped back, surprised. Helen had never talked to me in that tone. I stood there looking at her, trying to understand. Why didn’t she want to go with me? That didn’t make sense. I wasn’t going alone. What would I do in the world of grownups without Helen?

Then I understood. She preferred to stay in our world, the world of children, the one on this side of the night. Our world, where we would be forever protected from all evil. I felt relieved for finally understanding everything. I closed the window and lay in the hammock.

When I was almost sleeping, I heard something that caught my attention. It was a sound of galloping, like horses approaching. I looked through the window. The sound came from outside. I stood up and went to the window. And I saw them. The evil creatures.

They were many, more than I could count. They were riding their huffing horses in a troubled gallop. They yelled, screamed and cackled as if they were insane. They had scythes and spears and brandished them over their heads. They were human corpses, skeletons with rests of flesh still hanging from them. Semi-dead creatures. Grotesque. Horrible. They looked like they had just come out of their graves. The most dreadful thing I had ever seen and would ever see in my whole life.

They were very near, blowing hatred and cruelty through their red eyes. And they were all looking at my window, where I was, all those horrible red eyes staring at me. In the vastness of the city, among all the buildings, the creatures knew exactly where I was. They had their gaze fixed on my window, on me, and they came closer in their crazy and noisy gallop.

I felt the despair come up inside my throat. I tried to call Helen, but my voice simply wouldn’t come out. They were coming and I couldn’t scream. I wanted to run, but my legs would not move and I stood there in front of the window. They came closer and the noise was increasingly louder. How could Helen sleep with that deafening roar?

At last, they arrived. They stopped in front of the window. I could hear their troubled horses huffing, ready to storm into the bedroom. I could feel the horrible smell of something rotten, some dead animal, it was unbearable…

Then I summoned all my strength, leapt as fast as I could, threw myself on the bed and pressed my body against my cousin’s. I pulled the blanket on and covered myself from head to feet. She woke up and asked me what I was doing there. I couldn’t speak at all. My eyes were closed and I trembled. I was terrified.

Helen explained that I had had a nightmare, that everything was alright and I could sleep with her. I trembled in fetal position with my eyes shut hard. I was frightened and petrified. Helen hugged me and tried to soothe me. But it was useless. They were just outside the window and would come in any second now.

Helen asked me to open my eyes. I didn’t. She insisted, she asked me to open them, said that she was there by my side, my dear cousin. I didn’t open them, I couldn’t. I just trembled and trembled.

Then she took my hand, pressed it in hers and put something in it. It was our lock of hair. It had been left out of the chest. Helen told me it was an amulet, that I should not be afraid anymore because the amulet would protect me every night. I just had to hold it and the nightmare would go away.

I held the lock of hair in my hand with all the strength I could find. Then I noticed that the creatures went gradually away. The amulet really worked. I kept holding it and pressing it. And the creatures were gone. Little by little, I stopped trembling and I cried from so much relief and gratitude. I hugged my beloved cousin and we slept that way, close together. Protected. Like in the old times. Like it should always have been.

When I woke up, however, I was alone. My cousin had left already. I looked through the window and the sky was blue. I opened my hand and there was the amulet.

*     *     *

I am 21 years old now. I left home and came to another city to attend college. My parents rented a small apartment where I live with Shadow, my Persian cat. He is neutered and never leaves the apartment, so he keeps me company.

I’ve always been careful to be back home before dawn so I don’t have the displeasure of seeing that horrible scene again. That made me turn down many invitations to go out. I was afraid I would not be protected in my bed when the malignant creatures came from the world where there are no children. Yes, I still had the amulet. But it was too sacred for me to carry it around.

I never mentioned the creatures to anybody, not even my parents or friends, nobody. It was my secret. Mine and Helen’s. One day, however, in an unguarded moment, I relented and told Luiz. We had been dating for a few months and he always asked me about my refusal to see the dawn. I liked him and thought he would understand, so I told him. In a moment of weakness, I revealed our secret.

I asked Luiz whether he could not see them at dawn, those horrid creatures. I asked him whether he could not hear the manic rumble of the gallops with the first rays of daylight. Could he not feel the unbearable smell of dead animals. He was sensitive, he would certainly understand. I told him that many years ago Helen had warned me about the other side of the night, that she had told me about the secret of the dawn and that one day I had finally seen it with my own eyes. I told him about the amulet I had been keeping, which my cousin had given to me specifically for my protection so I always wore it on a necklace when I slept.

I told him all that and waited apprehensively. Then I suddenly remembered Helen and felt all the weight of a precious pact being broken. What would she think about this? Would she understand me? If she met Luiz, she would certainly understand. Yes, he was a good person. He liked me.

Luiz listened to everything and looked very serious. He asked me if I was joking and I replied I wasn’t. He asked the same question again and my answer was negative again. He asked it for a third time and I gave him the same answer once more. Then I realized I shouldn’t have told him.

Luiz changed after that. He became somewhat cold and distant towards me. Even worse, he tried to convince me that everything I had told him was a product of my imagination, that the malignant creatures didn’t exist and that I should watch the dawn without the amulet to confirm what he was telling me.

I should have broken up with him right there. I felt very angry for being treated like a lunatic. I know I’m not crazy, I saw the creatures. I heard the hurried gallop and the troubling howls, I could feel the rotten smell overpower the air and their claws had been very close to touching my neck.

We still dated for a few weeks in spite of his attempts to convince me. He would bring it up once in a while, but I wouldn’t listen. I didn’t want to discuss that anymore, I knew it was useless. We eventually broke up because one day he did something I could not accept.

We were sharing the bed that night. I suddenly woke up startled. He was calling me. He was pointing at the window in my bedroom and told me to look. He said there was nothing outside, just the dawn.

I looked through the window, still sleepy and groggy, and I almost passed out from the shock. There were the creatures coming up and they came running, storming towards us. They were close enough already, I could hear them as if they were inside the apartment.

I looked at his hand and I saw the amulet. Luiz had taken it out of my neck while I slept, the jerk. I was out of my mind with such rage I’d never thought I could have. Seeing the amulet in the hands of that rapscallion made me absolutely furious. He couldn’t have done that.

I pushed him out of the bed, desperately screaming that he didn’t have the right to do that. I tried to take the amulet back, but he wouldn’t let me. He told me to look outside and see that everything was normal, that there were no evil creatures at all…

I could have killed him, I honestly could. Luiz was treating me as if I were insane. In fact, I was in complete despair. Yes, I was. But who wouldn’t be with those creatures drawing so close?

I pushed him hard to the corridor and from there to the living room. He tried to contain me, he asked me to calm down saying I should seek treatment, he liked me a lot and wanted to help. I didn’t want to listen and screamed at him to go away. Shadow had woken up with my screams and was scared, watching everything in a corner of the room. I was really desperate. I didn’t have any time. Luiz was pushing me towards death and didn’t understand that.

I don’t know where I found so much strength, Luiz is a lot stronger than me, but I opened the door of the living room and thrust him far away. He was knocked down on his back and tumbled down the staircase steps. I picked the amulet from the floor, yelled that I never wanted to see him again and slammed the door shut. I ran to the bedroom, threw myself on the bed and covered my body with the blanket.

I relived everything again, all the hell I had sworn I would never live again. They had come to me just like they had before. They looked through the window and… came in. They stood around my bed and watched me, the repulsive corpses. No, nobody can imagine what that is like…

While I hid under the blanket trembling and squeezing the amulet in my hands, I could feel their gaze burn like embers on my skin, their heated breath, their putrid stench, their loathsome claws only inches away from my body… No, nobody can imagine.

Then they gradually began to step away and leave the room. They knew there was nothing they could do against me as long as I had the amulet.

Luiz called me on the same day, but I didn’t answer. He sent me messages that I didn’t read. I got sick of him and turned off the phone. On the next day, I took a bus to the city where Helen lived. I had to tell her about what I had done. I hadn’t honored her secret. I had to ask her to forgive me.

I arrived there in the afternoon. I took another bus from the bus station to her house. When I got there, I rang the bell and asked about my cousin. Then I learned that Helen had passed away. On that same day, in the morning.

I refused to believe it at first. The voice on the intercom asked me who I was. But I couldn’t find my voice to say anything else. A woman opened the gate. She was dressed in black and looked very sad. She told me about something involving an accident and explained where the wake would be held. Everybody would be there. She asked me if I had understood. I don’t remember what I replied, but I had understood. I had understood everything.

*     *     *

It is exactly five ten in the morning right now. I’m back to my apartment, in the living room, sitting in this armchair facing the large glass window. The sun rises behind me, on the opposite side. I had deliberately chosen an apartment with a view to the sunset, but I can already see the sky beginning to get brighter on this side. In a few minutes, the light of day will come.

I brought another cup of coffee from the kitchen. I want to be awaken and fully alert for what is about to happen.

I can hear the rumble and feel the stench… I try to remain calm. But my chest is about to explode.

I can see the creatures and the maniacal look on their faces. And the screams, my God, the screams… I can’t understand how the neighbors can remain asleep with that uproar. My neighbor complains about the slightest sounds, how is it possible that she can’t hear this?

I left enough food for about five days in Shadow’s dish. I hope someone realizes what happened before the poor animal starves to death.

They are coming. They have seen me. The entire horde watches me with their red eyes and hateful expressions. And their storming rocks the whole apartment. How can nobody else hear this, my God? The vases drop from the shelves, everything is shaking! Even Shadow, who usually sleeps so heavily, has come to see what is going on…

They’re here already. They look sadistic as they walk around the armchair and the sound of their steps echoes in the room. God, they’re so repugnant! And their stench is so smothering it’s impossible to breathe… Shadow was terrified by what he saw. He ruffled his fur and ran away to the corridor, must have tucked himself under the locker, the poor thing. I really I wish I could have saved him from this.

One of the creatures touches my hair, the bony hand, threads of skin hanging from it… The stench is unbearable. The sickness comes all the way up to my throat and I refrain from vomiting. I remain motionless, not breathing, eyes fixed forward. One of them brandishes a scythe. Why won’t it do what it has come to do already?

They are all in the room and they laugh at me wildly. I try to retain as much of my dignity as I can, but I am so nervous my jaws shake uncontrollably… I just wish it could be over immediately.

One of the creatures pulls my hair and pulls my head back, exposing the full length of my neck. My heart is racing. It brings its face close to mine. I can see the foaming mouth and the hot breath. The one with the scythe approaches. I look away from their eyes the whole time.

The creature pulls my hair some more. The drool from its mouth drops on my closed lips and runs around its corners… I try hard to control my revulsion. I feel the sharp claws touch my neck. My jaws still tremble. They all touch my neck and glide their claws across it as if savoring an appetizer.

Two images come to my mind. The first one is the amulet I had buried in the garden of the town square, the dirt covering it, our locks of hair united forever. The second image is Helen looking at me with sad and disappointed eyes…

The tears begin to run across my face. My head is still pulled back, my whole neck exposed. I can’t stand Helen’s stare anymore and I cry. I cry with my eyes closed and I pray that it’s all over soon.

Then comes a swift motion, and the creature does its deed.

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Ricardo Kelmer – blogdokelmer.com

.

.

(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 

.

 

.


Mariana´s gift

25/03/2020

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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)

.

.

MARIANA´S GIFT

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We are celebrating ten years of marriage, Mirley and I. She is an amazing woman, I have to tell you, and still as beautiful and fascinating as on the day I met her. To celebrate the occasion, we came to spend the weekend in our beach house. We brought wine, scented candles and our favorite records. Ten years of joy. Two wonderful children. We had our troubles, of course, but our love has overcome everything.

Right now, Mirley is on the beach with the children. I chose to stay here in the hammock in the porch listening to Julio Iglesias, looking at the trees in the property, enjoying the wind and the rustling sound it makes through the leaves. Ten years. So many things we have been through…

I remembered facts, sensations, words, and small, trivial events. I remembered our days of hardship. While one was faltering, the other kept it all together… I laughed alone remembering the many agreements and disagreements, interesting random things and epic quarrels that time always turns into trifles. In these ten years together, we have collected the inevitable dust of ordinary matters, I know. But a still lovingly stare, believe me, can find poetry even in the moldiest routine.

And this morning, here in the hammock scanning the past, I suddenly remembered Mariana. It was like the wind blowing away the upper crust of sand on something that had been forgotten. It blew and Mariana came along with her gracious girly ways, the candid smile… And I remembered everything.

*     *     *

It was a Wednesday, the day of the week when they held session at Ms. Nina’s house, a known medium in the neighborhood. Joca had asked me if I would like to attend a session of umbanda Manaus style. I said “yes” and we went there.

I had left Recife to live in Manaus, where I had invested all my savings on an export business. My girlfriend Mirley came with me, but unfortunately she did not adapt to the local climate and went back. I stayed with the promise that soon I would make money and go back too. But almost one year later, my business was struggling hard and I was increasingly running out of money and hope. The outlook was not encouraging at all. I missed Mirley terribly, it was like having a stake driven through my soul. Everything was more difficult away from her. So who knows, maybe some spirit could lend me a hand.

The session began. The attendance was high on that evening and some people had to remain standing around the event. Since it was my first time, they let me have a chair right next to Ms. Nina, the medium, a very distinguished lady. She had a dark scrawny body and deep black hair and eyes. The congá table was in a corner of the room. I could identify the images of Jesus Christ, Saint George, Saint Sebastian, Saints Cosmas and Damian and the Holy Virgin on it. The medium asked for the blessing of Oxalá, of master Jesus, of the spirit responsible for the yard whose name I can’t remember anymore, and of some orishas.

I never believed in such things, I think they can be explained by autosuggestion. But I’m shy so the new experience made me feel uncomfortable. I saw people explain their problems to the spirits and that was strange to me. I saw that some of them secretly whispered to their ears, but I still couldn’t find the courage. I felt ridiculous by merely picturing myself whispering to the ear of an imaginary old black man blowing corn husk smoke with all those people around me providing a soundtrack of off-key chanting.

During the visit of the spirits I didn’t detect any considerable change in the medium. I watched discreetly but carefully, looking for negative or positive proofs of an afterlife. But one thing really caught my attention: the seven shots, that’s right, seven shots of cachaça that she drank during the visit of a certain caboclo spirit whose name I forget. And that was additional to the beers that other spirits ordered and consumed. Logic follows that Ms. Nina, with her puny body, had to be very intoxicated by the time she finished the session.

It was at the end of it all that Mariana came along. I was leering at Joca and expressing my impatience when Ms. Nina trembled once again, closed her eyes and went into a trance. I immediately detected a faint fragrance in the air, a scent of wood and fresh grass. I looked around coyly to find out who was wearing such a pleasant perfume.

Everybody welcomed the spirit that was arriving.

“Hail, Mariana.”

“Hail, cabocla Mariana. Welcome.”

“Welcome, Mariana of the brick-colored hair.”

“Hail, hail!” Ms. Nina answered to everyone around. And I noticed that her voice had become more juvenile.

“You haven’t come here for a long time, Mariana.”

“I’ll say, it’s crowded today. New people, handsome man, that’s good. Hurray!”

I thought it all was ridiculous and wanted to laugh. At precisely that instant, however, Ms. Nina’s eyes met mine. I was startled. It wasn’t Ms. Nina who was staring at me, it was someone else. It was a different, brighter, more lively stare. I was bothered and tried to look away, but something prevented me.

“This is my friend Diddy,” Joca introduced me right away. “It’s his first time here.”

“He has beautiful eyes, yes,” Ms. Nina said, half serious and half smiling.

I didn’t know what to say. Everyone’s attention was focused on me. I looked for something to do with my hands on the table to avoid the stares, especially Ms. Nina’s. It was odd. Ms. Nina remained there by my side, but at the same time… it didn’t seem to be her. It couldn’t be her.

“Are you shy, young man?” she asked, just a few inches away from my face. She had a sweet look, but there was something domineering about it. It was subtle, but I couldn’t look away. She touched my face, smiled and turned around to look for the old acquaintances in the session. I breathed, feeling relieved.

Ms. Nina – or Mariana – greeted all the attendants. I noticed she spent more time talking to men. She asked about old acquaintances, asked about someone or some other, laughed at stories and had fun at some disturbance that had occurred on the street a few days prior. I was so uncomfortable in the situation I didn’t even remember to ask for her help in relation to my business. I was content enough with just admiring her gracious manners and good humor. She was definitely a charming spirit.

There was something however that had grasped my attention since she had begun to talk. She asked about her fiancé then about another fiancé, and it seemed she had many fiancés. I was curious, nudged Joca and he explained it to me, whispering quietly to my ear:

“Cabocla Mariana didn’t die. She was spellbound when she was 17 and a half. She is very beautiful. She has white skin and red hair, the color of bricks. And her eyes are blue like a swimming pool. Whenever she gets infatuated with a man, she proposes him to get engaged to her. When a man becomes Mariana’s fiancé, he gets everything he wants professionally, he gets a pretty quick upgrade in his living standard.”

I felt queasy. I moved around in my chair to get closer to my friend.

“My brother is her fiancé. You visited his store, Diddy. He had nothing two years ago. He got rich pretty fast.”

“And what makes her become infatuated with a man?”

“Oh, I don’t know. She just does.”

“And what does she want in exchange?”

“She is jealous, she demands absolute exclusivity. If a man becomes her fiancé, he can’t have any other woman.”

“But… what do you mean?”

Someone shushed us… I smiled apologetically and put myself together. But that conversation was irresistible.

“She’ll ruin any other love you have,” Joca continued. “Look at Louis, that guy over there. He got engaged to her. He bought this house and gave it to Ms. Nina so she could hold the sessions. He was dirty poor and now he owns a supermarket. On the other hand, he never settled with a woman anymore. Mariana always ruins the relationship.”

“And can’t he get out of the deal?”

“No. You really must have balls to get engaged to her.”

“Well, I would accept that kind of deal.”

“You wouldn’t do that!”

“If she helps me make money, I’ll beat the hell out of here and she will never find me again. I’ll marry Mirley and keep the money.”

“She won’t let you leave, Diddy. You don’t know how powerful that girl is. You don’t know.”

His advice served no purpose anymore. I was overwhelmed by an odd frenzy. I had gone in there skeptical of the whole concept, but now I was willing to suspend my disbelief for cabocla Mariana if she would really help me out of the hardships I had been enduring. On the matter of her ruining relationships, well, that was just too much for me to believe.

“Before of I go, I want to talk to this young man here…” Mariana suddenly turned to me, to my surprise. “You don’t need to tell me that your life hasn’t been easy at all, right? Honest man, hard working… You come from a distant place, don’t you?”

I nodded. Her stare was impressive. I felt embraced by an unusual tenderness, like warm water, cozy… a nice scent of fresh grass…

“I’ll bet you left a girlfriend crying somewhere, didn’t you?”

I smiled coyly.

“Do you know the first thing they notice is your beautiful eyes?”

I felt my cheeks burn from embarrassment.

“And you know how to look the way a woman likes.”

I didn’t know what to say.

“You just need to have a little more respect for the spirits. I know you are smart. But nobody can challenge the spirits.”

She said that and touched my arm. That was definitely not Ms. Nina’s hand. It was the silky hand of a girl.

“But I do respect…” I tried to amend it, bothered by the exposure of my intimate thoughts.

“Then respect them a little more, it won’t hurt. You know a lot. But nobody knows everything.”

I remained silent, increasingly nervous. Being chastised by a spirit, who could imagine.

“For example, you don’t know how to make money.”

She spoke and laughed. It was a girl’s laughter.

“Mariana will show you if you want.”

In the ensuing silence, I heard my heart beat. What was she proposing?

“He is not interested, Mariana, Joca interrupted, patting my shoulder gently.

“Is that true?” she asked, looking into my eyes. And for a second they seemed to be blue.

“Well… I…”

“You’re not a lost cause. You just need a little push with a few things.”

Mariana kept looking at me seriously. Then I felt something strange, a slight numbness…

“I can fix that easily.”

“In how much time?” I wanted to know. She really had blue eyes. Or could I be imagining things?

“Faster than you think.”

Yes, they were blue. A crystalline, halcyon blue, almost a caress. I wasn’t imagining it. I saw it. I don’t know how, but I saw it.

“I like you.”

And the long hair, the color of bricks. The milky white skin, the manners of a mischievous girl. Don’t ask me to explain. I saw it.

“Mariana, he is not interested,” Joca interrupted us again.

“You’re still spiteful, Joca. Just because I never wanted to be your fiancée. Did you know that, Diddy? Do you know he proposed to get engaged to me and I refused?”

I looked at my friend. He had never told me that.

“That was a long time ago, Mariana. I hardly knew what I was doing.”

“That’s why you still find yourself in this situation, borrowing money from your brother. You never know what you’re doing.”

“You know I’m unemployed.”

I thought about my friend Joca. He was older than me and had tried many things in life. Nothing had worked. Friends were always helping him out. He seemed to have the stigma of failure. Perhaps Mariana had seen that in him? Could that be the reason why she didn’t accept him as her fiancé?

“Diddy?” she called me. “Listen, I’ll be back next week. Think about it carefully because I only propose once.”

“That’s true,” a man behind me said. “If you refuse, she won’t give you another chance.”

“Wait…” I held her arm. “I accept it.”

Mariana flashed her beautiful smile again. Her blue eyes twinkled. She took my hand, held it between hers, kissed it, looked at me firmly and said:

“I haven’t proposed yet, young man. But I will now. Do you want to be my fiancé?”

I thought about Mirley and how much I liked her. Would she forgive me? At least it was for a good cause. For one second I felt my future was about to be cast in that exact moment and that whatever my decision was, there would be no turning back. Mariana had locked her eyes into mine and I felt like I was being tenderly hugged… I wasn’t in that room anymore. I was walking in the forest with her. Mariana and her white dress, her beautiful red hair with a braid resting on her shoulder, we both laughing, we both dipping our feet in the river’s cold water, our hands held together, our bodies very close, her face close to mine, then closer and closer, her mouth, our mouths…

“He is going to think, Mariana,” Joca said, pushing me back to the table. “He is going to think hard and give you an answer on Wednesday.”

I glared at him.

“Then I’ll be back on Wednesday to find out,” she said. She let go of my hand and turned around to say her good-byes to everyone.

Ms. Nina soon opened her eyes, and kind as usual, smiled at everyone and asked that we all hold hands in a prayer for the disenfranchised and for all the well-meaning requests that had been made. I watched her carefully and couldn’t see any signs of intoxication. She had drunk a lot in one hour and a half and even her breath did not smell of liquor. I was impressed by that, that’s true, but not as much as by her transformation: her face, voice and gestures no longer had a single trace of young Mariana. The blue-eyed and brick-colored hair cabocla, if she ever had really been by my side, was not there anymore.

While we walked on the street, Joca told me about his frustrated engagement to Mariana. He confessed he had been very embarrassed at the time, but had gotten over it. He also felt grateful every day for being rejected by Mariana because he was dating a very nice girl.

I wanted to know more about Mariana, I was very curious.

“She really liked you. But don’t you make the mistake of getting engaged to her, Diddy.”

“That sounds like something a rejected fiancé would say…”

“I know it does. But tell me something: what use is having a lot of money and never finding someone to share your heart? Is it any good?”

“I’m going very far away. She won’t find me.”

“Remember what she said… You ought to be more respectful.”

“I am respectful. I just can’t believe it.”

Joca laughed, slapped on my shoulder and said:

“I’ve seen a lot of people come here to Manaus the way you did and leave a different person. Yes, I have.”

He laughed with great joy.

I didn’t mind going back a different man as long as I were in better situation. Joca’s opinions would not drive me away from my goals. I would get engaged to Mariana, save up some money and depart from that city. I was even making plans to invest the money. A soup restaurant in Recife Antigo. Or maybe an ice factory in Olinda.

“I can’t go with you next Wednesday,” he said. “You’re going to make that mistake all alone.”

I dreamed about Mariana twice along those days and the pleasant sensation of the dream would follow me for the rest of the day. I could smell her many times on the street, on the bus… I suddenly felt the nice scent of fresh grass, her presence inundated the atmosphere and something in me became calmer, mellower, more understanding.

I couldn’t feel comfortable talking about that with anybody, not even Joca. With Mirley, not a chance. What would I tell her, that I was insanely enamored with a teenage spirit? That I thought about her all the time and became flustered whenever I saw someone with brick-red hair passing on the street? That I found myself drawing her name on paper napkins? How could I tell her I was getting engaged to an umbanda spirit because of our future? No, I had better not say that. It would be a secret between me and Mariana.

On the next Wednesday, I went there again. And once again, Ms. Nina received the spirits. Like in the previous session, Mariana was the last one to come. Once again, the light scent of wood and fresh grass. Once again, the joyful voice, the juvenile grace. I felt like my fondness of her was spilling on the table. I admired the beauty of the simple gestures, the tiniest details. How could she be so charming? I realized I liked her. A lot.

After talking to a few people, Mariana finally turned to me. And she smiled. And once again, her smile brought the freshness of waterfalls to my mind.

“Hi, handsome young man.”

“Hi, Mariana.”

“You thought about me these days, didn’t you?”

“I did.”

“So did I. A lot.”

“Really?”

She stopped smiling and I could see the sadness in her look.

“Look, I have something to tell you. Come over here, come…” She invited me to sit on the chair next to her, reserved for private conversations. While the others chanted, she told me:

“You are more protected than I’d thought. I was told not to mess with you.”

I couldn’t understand.

“Look, you can’t be my fiancé.”

“Why not?” I asked, surprised.

“A bigger spirit than me, I have to respect. That made me very sad.”

It felt like breaking up a long relationship. I felt like crying in her lap.

“You are protected already, handsome young man. You don’t need me.”

“I do,” I insisted. I didn’t care about any embarrassments or privacy anymore. “I do need you, Mariana.”

“Go, go down your own path. It’s a good path. You’re going through a difficult moment, but you are a strong man and will get through the forest. Have faith.”

I suddenly remembered Mirley and I felt I wouldn’t have the strength to keep fighting for us anymore. I was finally beat, impotent. It was the end.

“Listen, since you can’t be my fiancé, I’m going to leave you a gift.” She took my hand and pulled me closer. She was whispering to my ear now. “So you have no doubts that I like you.”

I took a deep breath and found the strength to ask:

“A gift?”

“If you can’t come next Wednesday, I will know that you accepted Mariana’s gift.”

I saw a tear run from her eye.

“And even if you forget me, I’ll always be looking after you, you hear me? Now go, handsome man, go.”

She pushed me gently. She said her good-byes to everyone and left. The scent of fresh grass was gone. The warm water was gone.

I was devastated and went after Joca. I had no hard feelings against Mariana. On the contrary, she had really captivated me and I could only feel all tenderly about her. But I couldn’t believe I had made so many plans in vain. What about the famous soup restaurant in Recife Antigo? What about the successful ice factory in Olinda?

“She likes you,” Joca said, consoling me. “And if she likes you, she will find a way to help you.”

Joca’s words were useless. I was so sad I had no disposition for anything. The following days were like hell, I could barely get out of bed. Working was torture. I even lost my appetite. I was depressed and disappointed at everything, at life and especially at myself for having believed that a spirit would fix the course of my life.

My telephone had been cut off and wouldn’t be reactivated until Monday, so I used that as an excuse not to talk to Mirley. I didn’t want her to realize my situation. Joca invited me to go out, but I turned it down. I would spend the weekend locked up at home. I had absolutely no interest in seeing the world outside.

The telephone was reconnected on Monday and it rang at night as soon as I arrived from work. It was Mirley. I was still sad, but I managed to hide it. She told me one of the branches of her friend’s company in the countryside of Pernambuco was out of a manager and her friend considered me to fill the position. She explained that she had tried to talk to me over the weekend but couldn’t find me and maybe her friend had found someone else already. I told her I was interested and she gave me the friend’s telephone number.

I felt anxious when I hung up. It would be a very harsh punishment to lose that opportunity because of a disconnected telephone line due to late payment. I called the number she had given me, but it was busy. I called it again and again – still busy. I couldn’t even raise from the couch I was so anxious.

At my hundredth attempt, Mirley’s friend finally answered. Luckily, the position was still open. The salary was not as good as I wanted, but it was a branch in a city near Recife, so I would be close to Mirley and we would be able to see each other every weekend.

Everything was agreed upon on the same night. He was in a hurry and asked if I could schedule my trip for Wednesday, two days later.

“Yes, of course,” I replied with resolve. “You can count on it.”

I hung up the phone and froze in place, still amazed. Then I suddenly realized. That was Mariana’s gift…

I couldn’t help the tears rolling down my face. Right there, on the couch, I cried convulsively like I never had before. I remembered Mariana while I cried thankfully and could only mumble “thank you, thank you…”

On Wednesday, at the airport, I said good-bye to Joca and asked him to thank Mariana for me. And I asked him to say that I would never forget her. He laughed:

“No need. Nobody forgets Mariana.”

On Wednesday, on my journey, I could only think about the session. At that very moment, they certainly were all around the table, looking at the spirits on Ms. Nina’s face. I felt good and confident, with lightness in my soul. I was as sure as anyone can be that I was on board the most protected flight in the world.

At the airport in Recife, I picked my luggage and looked around in search of Mirley. While I waited for her, I detected this familiar scent, a pleasant freshness…

Someone suddenly touched my shoulder. My heart froze. I turned around slowly, already knowing whom I was going to see. And I saw her. The reddish hair, the white skin, the sparkling blue eyes…

A river of tepid waters ran around me and I let myself be washed by the embracing waters, the fresh smell of grass, the continuous melody of the forest… My soul was taken by a sweet feeling of rapture. Two beautiful blue eyes caressed me and all I could do was smile and smile…

“I’m sorry,” she said, embarrassed. “I mistook you for someone else.”

“What?” I said, coming back down to the airport, feeling my feet on the floor again. The girl waited for me to say something, but I couldn’t find anything to say. She waved at some people farther ahead and smiled at me.

“Good luck. Bye.”

I stood there watching the girl go away and run to her friends. I didn’t know what to think. Then I heard my name and saw Mirley come towards me. I was confused and still looked for the red-haired girl, but she had already disappeared in the crowd. Mirley hugged me tight and cried on my shoulder. We hadn’t met for almost one year. We’d missed each other so badly…

“What is this strange look on your face, Diddy?”

“It’s the trip…” I replied “But everything is alright now. Have you had dinner?”

We left soon. On the following day, I already was the manager of the store branch and there was a lot of work to do. A new life awaited me, this time next to the woman I loved.

About the girl in the airport, I know, I know. You certainly think I think she was Mariana. Yes, she was.

Don’t try to dissuade me. Don’t even ask me about logic, I don’t even have it for myself. I am perfectly content with the pure and thankful certainty I still carry in my chest that the coquettish girl who suddenly smiled at me at the airport in Recife was indeed Mariana. Yes, cabocla Mariana of the brick-colored hair, spellbound at 17 years and a half, who took some time out of Ms. Nina’s session on that Wednesday night to see me for the last time and to wish me a happy life in her own way.

This is the story. In a moment of angst and helplessness, I was willing to be Mariana’s fiancé and challenge her power. She wanted me, too. But fate would have it differently. Mariana, in demonstration of her love, gave me a gift, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change my life for the better and I grabbed the opportunity with all my might.

This is the story of Mariana that I still carry in my chest bathed in warm water, in the smell of fresh grass. In the first few months, still impressed by everything that had happened, I remembered Mariana every day and thanked her quietly. I gradually forgot her, absorbed by the intense work and by the family growing up. As my life resumed its balance, Mariana slowly became an increasingly distant memory that eventually disappeared. Maybe she didn’t need to intervene for me anymore since my life was finally back in its natural course.

Today, however, ten years later, here in the beach house, the memory of her came back to me. It made its way into my heart. And I remembered everything again.

*     *     *

Mirley is just back from the beach with the kids. They bring a bucket full of sea shells. Louise says she is going to plant them in the backyard and wait for a sea shell tree to grow. Filippe chastises his sister for believing nonsense that grownups say. I sit on the edge of the hammock and ask them if they picked all those shells up on their own or if their mother really did all the work. Filippe says a young lady helped them. Mirley says the children loved the girl in a way she had never seen before. While pouring the shells down on the floor, Filippe tells me:

“She was beautiful, Dad. Her eyes were the color of this bucket.”

I look at the blue bucket and begin to feel strange already.

“And her hair was red, that color.”

Before Louise pointed at the roof, I had already understood. I feel my heart freeze over, a sudden vacuum in my soul. I clutch at the hammock as if grasping the will to dash away towards the beach.

“Her skin was so white, Diddy…” says Mirley, turning on the shower in the garden to wash the children. “I don’t know how that young woman can stand walking under this hot sun.”

I rise from the hammock feeling something in the chest. A strange joy, a melancholy, an excitement, everything at the same time. I walk silently to the living room. I pour myself a shot of whiskey on the counter and knock it all back at once. The burning liquid makes my eyes watery. A useless ruse to hide the tears I can’t control.

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Ricardo Kelmer – blogdokelmer.com

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(script for a movie soon)

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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.

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> Amazon (kindle) english/portuguese

> In portuguese – blog 

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Crimes of passion

25/03/2020

CrimesDePaixao-02

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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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CRIMES OF PASSION

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CrimesDePaixao-02All patrons of the Kuay Bar stopped dead in their tracks when they arrived on Saturday and found that Imogen had not come to work. After all, he wasn’t just the most folkloric waiter in the extremely bohemian district of Iracema Beach. He was also known as Penalty, a nickname the customers had given him for missing work one single time in twenty years in his job, on the particular day when he masterfully defended a penalty kick in the final match of the Quintino Cunha Soccer League. The celebration had been so intense he was unable to work at night. Imogen, a.k.a. Penalty.

Now the man was absent from work a second time. It was almost as historical an event as the first one. People bragged about having been in the bar on that night when Penalty was absent. Roger Gaciano Jr., reputed journalist and habitué of the district, was looking for someone to illustrate his story about the bohemian neighborhood and guess who he interviewed. Waiter Penalty, of course. And the interview is still posted on the bar’s wall, laminated, for the whole world to see.

“Imogen hasn’t come to work?! Did he save another penalty kick?”

“I propose we hold a meeting to change his name to Double Penalty…”

Speculations ran wild all night long. Bets were placed: a month of free booze to whoever guessed why Imogen was absent for a second time. The man had such charisma that even his absence would be grounds for a party.

But on Sunday evening, Imogen’s wife came to the bar asking for her husband and everyone suspected something more serious had happened. Ms. Cecilia was distressed with a young boy on her arm and said her husband had left on Saturday afternoon and she hadn’t heard from him since. Carlitos, owner of the Kuay Bar, empathized with the woman’s affliction and offered to organize a search party to find out where his best waiter was. Ms. Cecilia should not worry and should go back home. He would put her in a taxi and soon everything would be alright. Imogen would turn up.

The mystery persisted until Monday morning, when Penalty’s decomposing body was found washing on the shore at Barra. The coroner’s report indicated drowning. He couldn’t swim, so he would never venture into the ocean. The strangest thing is that he was all dressed. Maybe he had fallen from the wharf? Money and documents in his pocket. No signs of violence on the body. What could have happened?

Penalty was buried late in the afternoon. Everybody was devastated. Almost every one of his customers attended, even the occasional ones and those who owed him money and had been avoiding showing up. The widow received offers of assistance and saw how beloved her deceased husband was. A storm of flowers was thrown on the casket and someone picked up a guitar to sing Ednardo’s “Beira-Mar”, Imogen’s favorite song.

Amidst the lamenting, nobody heard it when Jeovah, also known as Prophet, dressed in his thick black coat that hadn’t been anywhere near soap for a long time and with his fixed gaze on the descending casket, said:

“There goes the second martyr.”

If someone heard it, they pretended not to. It was hard enough putting up with the Prophet and his apocalyptic prophecy speeches in bars and it was certainly worse in a funeral.

“But it’s not over yet. There are still three…”

Although many avoided mentioning it, a whole moon went by while people wouldn’t talk about anything else at the bars in Iracema Beach. The most mournful abstained from alcohol for three days in memoriam. Others drank continuously for three days.

But nobody, absolutely nobody ever thought to connect the death of waiter Penalty to another death that had happened three months before at Le Bombom, a small modest love hotel where hookers and trannies used to go late at night. The victim was Neddy, owner of the establishment, a kind and peaceful elderly man. He was found dead in one of the bedrooms, laying on the bed. He was naked and had designer chocolate wrappings crammed in his mouth, such cruelty.

*     *     *

CrimesDePaixao-02Detective Tadeo Vieira, as he likes to be called (but known in the underworld as Tadeo Mousetrap), thirty-nine years of age and forty of card playing, always one to brag about being a good detective, woke up in that morning with a massive hangover. He had slept no more than two hours. He took a quick shower and a taxi to the Verdes Mares shanty town. They had had too much fun this time: the poker game had extended to six o’clock in the morning. And he had lost a month’s worth of wages to Mardonio, lucky son-of-a-gun.

Detective Tadeo Mousetrap (my apologies, but certain nicknames just become part of the person) never worked on Wednesday mornings. In all those years, no case had ever been important enough to justify his missing the old Tuesday night poker game or his sacred sleep on the next morning. But he had known Gina, the cigarette vendor. He had been her customer for a long time. And he couldn’t help feeling bad when someone informed him over the phone of her death in the wee hours of that night.

When detective Mousetrap finished interrogating neighbors, relatives and friends of the victim, he went to his office downtown. He sat at his desk with a view to the cathedral, went over his notes and reconstructed the sequence of events in his head. Gina comes home, a small wooden shack in the Verdes Mares shanty town at around four o’clock in the morning. She comes from Iracema Beach where she works as a peddler selling candy and cigarettes. Half an hour later, her husband leaves for the factory. Woman and son stay in the shack. The first flames are soon noticed by three men who are shooting pool in a bar fifty yards away. They rescue the boy who had been sleeping and remove Gina’s burnt up body that is lying on the kitchen floor.

Nobody in the shanty town saw anything suspicious, nothing out of the ordinary. Although everything hinted at an accident, Mousetrap scratched the back of his head and couldn’t understand why the victim had been unable to evacuate the small shack in time.

At night, he went to Iracema Beach. He talked to waiters, taxi drivers and peddlers. Everyone agreed that she was a beloved, friendly and generous person who had no enemies. At eleven, he closed the little note pad and called it a day. But before going home, he stopped by the Kuay Bar of the late waiter Penalty to enjoy a nice shot of cachaça. One by one, he recollected the conversations he had had that night. The woman did not owe money to anyone, didn’t like trouble, and was faithful to her husband. It wasn’t a crime of passion, murder, robbery or revenge. The one remaining hypothesis was that of an accident.

Mousetrap scratched the back of his head with the tip of the thumb. Something was telling him there was something off about it. And his intuition never played tricks on him. That’s why he became known as Mousetrap. As much as he tried, he couldn’t get rid of that moniker. He said it was a ridiculous nickname, that Mousetrap sounded like some corrupt, sweat stained shirt police detective. He wasn’t any of that, he was high profile. He worked as a detective because he had always enjoyed investigating, but he was graduated in engineering. He was a teacher at an entrance exam preparation course, but his real vocation was solving cases. He was so good at what he did that even the police would often ask him to help. In fact, the police had given him the nickname he hated. They said Tadeo Vieira was a teacher’s name. From then on, he was known as Mousetrap. Even ladies, ever concerned with their husbands’ dalliances, knew him by the nickname.

“This time I’m sure he is cheating on me, Mr. Mousetrap…”

He downed another shot and looked at the light-bathed sea of Iracema Beach, giving his eyes a break. All kinds of street vendors, the popcorn carts and the bright lights of the lampposts made that part of the district look like a park. How could that neighborhood have changed so much so fast? A few years earlier, there were half a dozen bars and they coexisted peacefully with the local population. They were more than a hundred now and the efforts of the residents’ association to ensure more peace and respect for the families that still insisted on living there were for the most part fruitless.

Several residents among the many he had heard had complained about the hell that life in that neighborhood had become. Some even said the death of the peddler might have been a consequence of the struggle for points of sale. Nothing would surprise them anymore since the bars had attracted a lot of people from other places, and crime was part of it all.

Mousetrap had been a frequent habitué of the district and knew its history. He knew the residents’ complaints were founded. But he also knew the bohemian vocation of the area was rather old and the proliferation of bars was difficult to control due to many aspects, including the generation of jobs and increasingly thriving tourism.

He had basically stopped going there after so much growth. Until then, one could easily walk around the streets at night in peace. Couples could go on dates and enjoy the view of the ocean unafraid of robberies and patrons knew each other and had some respect for the residents. People gathered around a guitar on the sidewalk was a common occurrence. The bohemian life was equal amounts of poetry and friendship.

Not anymore. Instead of musicians, artists, poets and intellectuals, Iracema Beach had been taken over by noisy gangs of high and middle class boys and girls, youngsters obsessed with the power of the sound system in their cars and the designer label of their clothes. They also brought robberies, car theft, bar brawls and deaths. Drug dealers and young gym-goers looking for trouble were also attracted to the scene. Next in line were tourists, eager to consume. Then the prostitutes came. Surely there had to be room for them too. “Iracema Beach belongs to everyone!” advertised the tourism campaign slogan.

The detective went back to his tiny apartment with a barrage of thoughts and a lingering suspicion. He tried not to take the Prophet seriously, but couldn’t stop thinking about him, the crazy man he had met at Kuay Bar that night. He had seen him at the bars before. The same shaggy barfly of twenty years ago with the same stinky coat and the old habit of speaking in rhymes. He hadn’t changed at all and had sat at his table without asking permission:

“Your intuition is right, Mr. Detective. What happened to Gina was no accident. But it’s no use focusing on guilt ‘cause the prophecy is going to be fulfilled.”

He didn’t realize it then, but he did later: how could that man know about his intuition while he had never mentioned it to anyone? “Just what I needed,” he thought. “Some nutjob reading my mind.” He turned around in his bed to sleep, dismissing his thoughts with the conclusion that even nutjobs are right once in a while…

A few days later, the coroner’s report contained an intriguing conclusion: there was no trace of smoke in the victim’s lungs. That meant she had died before the fire started. But that did not reveal the cause. That would take a few more days.

Mousetrap scratched the back of his head with the thumb. So Gina had been dead already. Had she fallen or something like that? Or had she been murdered?

*     *     *

CrimesDePaixao-02“Oh waiter, two cachaças, please.”

“I’ll have a double shot.”

“Very well, Mr. Jeovah. What do you know about Gina’s death?”

Jeovah, who also went by the name of Prophet, was wearing his old stiffened black jacket. He eyed the man sitting across the table with both friendliness and disdain.

“I know that which is written, Mr. Detective…”

Gina had been dead for one week when Tadeo Mousetrap met the Prophet on the streets of Iracema Beach again and offered to buy him a drink. Maybe the nutjob had something interesting to say, seeing that he was a witness of the district’s reality day and night. The hardest part was putting up with the stench on that coat…

The waiter brought the drinks. The Prophet finished his cachaça in two gulps and began to talk about the night, the magic of the beach and the secrets of the bars. He told stories of the neighborhood, legends of old residents of the area, people who didn’t exist anymore. Tadeo Mousetrap listened carefully, marveled at his own patience. The Prophet had been roaming the area since the beginning of the proliferation of bars, he and his coat, the filthy hair, the rotten teeth and all of his oddball stories. He said he had been a photographer for a newspaper. There were rumors he had had a rock band in the 1970s called Punk Freud or something like that. People said he had lost his mind because of a woman. Absolutely everybody knew him, everybody had bought him some liquor one day.

“Don’t second guess reality, Mr. Detective. That is important in your job. For example, if I told you there was someone sitting at this table with us, someone who came with you, you wouldn’t believe it, would you?”

Tadeo Mousetrap automatically glanced at his side. When he understood what was happening, he got angry at himself and realized he had heard enough. Half an hour listening to that crazy talk, what was he thinking? He took a deep breath and embellished his voice with a tone of authority to say it was late, and if the man had nothing material to tell him, he had to excuse himself because he had to work early the following day. And ordered the check.

The Prophet gave him a brief smile of resignation.

“I’m going to speak the language you understand, Mr. Detective. Tell me one thing. If you don’t know I have a four of queens in my hand, then that hand does not exist to you, does it? It doesn’t exist because you don’t know I have it, right? But it does exist whether you know about it or not.”

Detective Tadeo Mousetrap, forty years of card playing, stared at the Prophet and felt a chill run down the spine. The nutjob knew he played poker? So he really could read his mind?

He kept his gaze fixed in the man’s eyes for a few seconds, looking for some clue that would give something away… But the expression on the man’s face did not change. He remained undisturbed, calm and unguarded, the type who would never harm anyone.

Suddenly, a black cat came in through the bar’s door and approached the table meowing at Prophet. He took it in his arms and held it on his lap, caressing its hair.

“You’re only investigating Gina’s case, aren’t you? Well, I’m going to broaden your perspective a bit more. Just because I liked your honesty.”

Tadeo Mousetrap waited. In the Prophet’s arms, the black cat watched with its yellow eyes.

“Look, Gina’s death has two precedents. One is Neddy, the hotel owner who died five months ago. The other one is waiter Penalty, who’s been dead for two months. I know you know, I know. But you haven’t connected the dots. The three of them were known characters in the area, they were part of the landscape. Behold the irony, man: the motel owner, who sold sex, died in bed. The waiter, who sold drinks, died by drowning. And the cigarette peddler died from burning.”

“She died before she burned,” interrupted Mousetrap, quickly realizing he had just let out inside information.

“It’s the symbolism that matters. The night is dying by means of its characters. The prophecy is cruel, but it’s real.”

“What prophecy?”

“You know it. One day, the night life of Iracema Beach is going to die.”

Tadeo Mousetrap lost his patience for the last time. He paid the check and stood up.

“As far as I know, Mr. Prophet, and maybe you don’t, a beautiful blond woman apparently in her twenties wearing a black dress was seen in the company of Neddy a few minutes before he was found dead. There is nothing symbolic about that. It was a murder and I’m going to prove it.”

“So, man… What better symbolism do you want? A beautiful and cruel blonde, dressed in black… A cool girl will kill you in a darkened room… Do you know that song?”

“Who knew the nutjob knew English,” thought Mousetrap, scratching the back of his head.

“You’re so obsessed with finding the murderer you can’t see the obvious.”

Mousetrap walked up to the sidewalk, hailed a cab and heard Prophet say from the table, still holding the black cat:

“Henry, Harry, Holy Pie. Who is the next one to die?”

*     *     *

CrimesDePaixao-02Over the following days, detective Tadeo Mousetrap eagerly awaited the second report on Gina’s death. He finally had some information: the coroners could not determine the cause of death. They just couldn’t.

The second conversation with the Prophet had been constantly hammering his mind. That story of a prophecy about the end of Iracema Beach was old, but it was just one of the many crazy stories that ran around the neighborhood. People smoked weed in the alleys and made those stories up. The actual truth was that Neddy had died of a heart attack and the blond woman had indeed been seen on the night of the crime by two witnesses. Waiter Imogen had died by drowning and there were no suspects. Gina’s case was the most mysterious one. The deaths, however, were not related like the Prophet had assumed. At any rate, the cases involving the waiter and the love hotel owner were none of his business. The waiter certainly had been drunk and fallen from the wharf on his own. And the police was looking for the blonde under suspicion of killing Neddy. His problem was the cigarette peddler. He had to discover why she had been unable to escape the fire.

Tadeo Mousetrap turned on the shower and walked into the cold stream. What he needed now was a good shower and a nice little game of poker. Four of queens… Who knows, maybe that was a tip for the game later at night. It might as well be. He might win back what Mardonio had taken from him the last time.

After the shower, he got dressed rapidly and went to meet the rest of the gang at Papagaio, the only bar that would let them have their poker game. Sure, it was just a table in the storage room on the upper floor, but it was allowed. Table for five, a bottle of cognac, saucers with peanuts. Next to his chips, a naked photo of Danusa, secretary of the office next door, for good luck. An old charm really. She was actually married now. “The buy-in is twenty, first pause at midnight, you touch someone else’s charm you get a warning, the prize is one, two and four buy-ins, let’s play because the game is played like this and watch it out ‘cause I’m kinda pissed…”

Mousetrap tried to focus on the game, but whenever a queen was laid on the table, he would recall the chat. How could the nutjob know he played poker? Was that why people called him Prophet, because he had the gift of guessing things?

The three cards were set on the table. A queen of spades came up. He had to focus on the game.

Henry, Harry, Holy… Mousetrap thought it was funny and laughed. He had to focus, he was very distracted.

Second card on the table: queen of clubs.

Henry, Harry, Holy… All those names began with an H. Was the nutjob trying to tell him the name of the next victim would begin with an H?

Then the queen of hearts was laid on the table. Three of queens! Everybody shouted around the table. They all exchanged glances and a sly smile. Whoever had the queen of diamonds would have the four. If anyone had it, they smiled to hide their happiness. And those who didn’t smiled to hide their fear.

Mousetrap felt his heart pound in his chest. He raised his eyes from the cards and immediately found Mardonio’s suspicious eyes across the table, behind the smoke of his joint. He looked at his cards again. He had to focus or damned Mardonio would guess his game.

He had seen the first one of his two cards. It was the two of clubs. The other one was behind it. He thought he’d do a little suspense for himself. He impulsively doubled the bet, still not knowing what the second card was. A shot in the dark. Of course it was risky. He didn’t usually do that, but it was the kind of thing that could serve as a good psychological move on the other players. He knocked back a bit of cognac. He had to seem calm.

Mardonio put many chips on the table and doubled the bet too. And stared at him again. The other players quit and left the two against each other. Mousetrap, still not knowing what the second card was, saw the bet. Someone whistled out in awe.

Mousetrap tried to remain calm. The game was getting serious. He took a long breath and finally decided to see the second card. His next move depended on it. If it were the queen of diamonds, he would keep betting until the end of the world. It had to be the queen. It had to be a four. The Prophet’s four.

Mousetrap rubbed his fingers slowly, applying just the right pressure so the second card wouldn’t be revealed completely. He was making suspense for the others and for himself. He could feel Mardonio watch him closely, ready to read his every slight gesture. The others did not dare speak. It was the highest bet of the night.

Mousetrap rubbed his fingers a little more. He uncovered the left lower side and could tell by the drawing that it was a face card, not a pip. His heart raced. That card could be the last queen he needed. It could only be a king, jack or queen. It had to be the queen of diamonds.

He went on with the suspense. He uncovered a little bit of the upper left corner and a sliver of the letter. It was red. Gradually, slowly, the red color…

Mousetrap, forty years of card playing, could not believe what he saw. For a few seconds, he could not even think at all. Then he thought someone was pulling some stupid prank on him. But nobody was laughing. Everyone was serious and awaiting his decision.

Mousetrap gulped hard. The card he had in his hand was not a king, a jack or a queen. What he had in his hand was a creepy skeleton riding a horse and brandishing a scythe. And the letter on the upper corner of the card was an H. A blood red H.

*     *     *

CrimesDePaixao-02Helga Mara stopped in front of the bathroom mirror and dried her long black hair. She brushed it, tossed it back and took a look at herself. Her experience as a blonde had lasted just six months and it hadn’t been very rewarding. Few people had approved it. Even her cat Rien had found it strange. He kept looking at her with his yellow eyes as if he didn’t know who that blond woman was. Now her hair was black again. The same color as her cat and the clothes she wore, and it was good to see her old image again.

She was living a good moment. The performances were happening. The boys in the new band were proficient musicians and did a good work together. The night gradually got to know who Helga Mara was. “Ah, life should always be like this,” she said to the image in the mirror. “Singing the blues and living the emotions. Preferably the strong ones, my dear.”

She gave one last look at the reflection of her naked body, which she admittedly used as a weapon both on stage and in life. She applied two drops of perfume in her hands and rubbed them on the back of her head and on her lap. She felt her breasts and looked at their side profile. She was wearing a black T-shirt as long as the middle of her thighs. She saw her face next to Jim Morrison’s in the mirror, a reflection of the poster on the wall behind her. Before she left the bathroom and went to the bedroom, she kissed his mouth on the mirror.

– You can’t fool me, man. I know you are alive. We will meet one day.

The record player in the living room was playing him, the Lizard King, and he sang: If you give this man a ride, sweet family will die… Killer on the road… Helga Mara closed her eyes, listened to the music and took a deep breath. She bit her lip. “I can resist anything, my dear, except temptations…” She picked up the bottle of Jack Daniel’s from the bedroom nightstand and went to the living room. She stopped at the door holding the bottle and looked at the man sitting on the floor, leaning against the couch. The clock on the wall informed her she had spent twenty minutes in the shower. “Twenty minutes is nothing for what he is about to get…” she thought, with a smile. “Cheers…” she toasted after pouring the glasses.

“To you. Cruel Helga.”

“To me.”

While Jim sang about the deadly ride on the road, Helga Mara drank a little whiskey and looked at the man in front of her. She had met him on a show one week before. As soon as he entered the bar, they exchanged odd-mannered glances. She noticed that he ogled her with lust during the performance. She was aroused the whole time she sang, feeling herself wet in the underwear. And she delivered her best performance ever. When she left her dressing room, she walked by his table to catch his attention. The allure worked: he invited her for a drink and she accepted it. He complimented her voice and the songs, especially “Cruel Blues.” She liked his mysterious gaze and behavior. And he said, “You have the style of the night…” And that stuck, she never forgot it. The style of the night.

Rien suddenly came from the kitchen and rubbed himself against her legs. She picked the black cat up in her arms.

“You escaped, little rascal. Come on, let’s go back. You can’t stay with me tonight, please understand…”

She left towards the kitchen and returned soon.

“Who are you, Helga?”

“A lucky little girl under the spotlights of the night.”

“Or just another lost angel in the city nightlife?”

She played with her fingers mimicking a shy and vulnerable little girl. She walked up to the shelf and played the record again. She could feel his stare on her back, surveying her curves. Now he was going to stand up and come close…

“Do you also like Jim Morrison?” she asked, lowering the needle onto the last track again.

“I like Helga Mara more.”

His voice was right behind her, she could feel it on her neck.

“Why do you think I have the style of the night?”

“Because the night is cruel.”

“Cruel…” she thought, savoring those words.

“Nothing that I can avoid, my dear…”

“You have a future, Helga Mara.”

“I know.”

“With me.”

“With you? I didn’t get that memo.”

“If you want, I can take you away from here and showcase your voice everywhere. We can live a torrid passion. In the end, we will die of love in Paris. In the bathtub of a hotel room.”

“Tempting… But lizards don’t die in Paris, dear.”

She felt his arm around her waist first, pulling her in firmly. Then her mouth met his. The unceremonious tongues. Then the hands, the T-shirt being pulled up and torn, his hands on her back, her neck, her breasts, her naked body in his arms in the middle of the room. Then the couch, his clothes, the urge, the sweat. Then the stars, the stars… And the keyboard like droplets of a blues dying gradually under the rain. Then the silence. Such cruel silence.

My love, this city is deafening
And you forget what I have to say
My love, the night is cruel
I smoke and drink alone in my place…

(Helga Mara – “Cruel blues”)

*     *     *

CrimesDePaixao-02Lieutenant Trinity, friend and police informant, informed Tadeo Mousetrap. Mousetrap immediately took a taxi and managed to get to the victim’s apartment before the press, when the police were still collecting material and taking photos. He inspected the damage with his own eyes. He saw the singer’s beautiful and bloody naked body lying prone on the carpet with spread legs and a gash on the neck. The police had already collected some objects for forensic analysis, including two glasses and a vinyl record broken in half with traces of blood.

“Do you know her, Mousetrap?” asked lieutenant Trinity, showing him the broken record.

“‘L. A. Woman’. Such a crime to break this vinyl.”

Mousetrap inspected the rooms. There were photos, notes and performance posters on the bedroom wall… Suddenly a black cat ran across and hid under the wardrobe. By the cat food in the kitchen, Mousetrap concluded that the animal belonged to the young woman. He tried to pick him up, but the cat leaped, quickly reached the window sill and stared at him. For an instant, he thought the animal might be trying to tell him something. Cats are magical creatures. He looked into the cat’s eyes and asked:

“Who did it? I know you know.”

The cat didn’t move on the window sill, just kept looking at him and meowed.

“So that is your method, Mousetrap… Feline interrogation.”

He turned around and saw the lieutenant standing at the door.

“The neighbor told me his name is Rien. In French, that means…”

“Nothing.”

“Exactly. So he knows nothing.”

Mousetrap picked up the cat and caressed him while Lieutenant Trinity laughed.

“We shouldn’t second guess reality… Isn’t that so, Rien?”

*      *     *

CrimesDePaixao-02Tadeo Mousetrap sat down on the couch in the living room of his tiny apartment. He turned on the TV, but didn’t pay attention. His thoughts were focused on Iracema Beach…

Helga Mara was the woman’s name. Beautiful woman. Twenty-three years old, a blues singer. She had a band and the patrons of many bars knew who she was. She had been in the city for one year and lived alone. She had performed on Tuesday night and was not seen after that. The body was found by the band’s harmonica player two days later. She had missed the rehearsal and wouldn’t answer the phone, so he went up to her apartment. The door wasn’t locked. He went inside and found the body lying on the carpet.

“Helga Mara… The ‘H’ in the riddle”, thought Mousetrap. A singer of the night. Killed with the throat slashed with a record. Signs of wrestling. She had certainly resisted. But the murderer was stronger and had knocked her down. He turned her around belly up on the carpet and laid his body on top of hers. He gagged her with a handkerchief so she wouldn’t scream. He broke the record in half and slashed her neck. While the hemorrhage drained her strength, he sodomized her to the sound of “Riders on the Storm”…

“Meoooooow…”

Mousetrap snapped out of his thoughts with the cat meowing at his feet.

“Are you hungry, Rien?”

He rose from the bed and put more cat food in the dish. With the crime scene still in his mind, he took pen and paper and wrote down the names of all victims. First, the love motel owner who died in bed. Three months later, the waiter who died by drowning. Two months later, the cigarette vendor who was burned to death. One month later, the singer was killed with her throat slashed with a record. No sign of robbery. No crime of passion or revenge. Four pointless crimes in six months. But they were symbolically consistent as hinted by the Prophet. Mousetrap scratched the back of his head and wondered if the police were aware of that potential connection among the crimes. Coincidence or not, he couldn’t discard the possible connection anymore.

But how did the Prophet know the next victim’s name would begin with the letter H? Or could it have been just a hunch? Mousetrap wrote down the names of the victims. Neddy, Penalty, Gina and Helga in chronological order. N, P, G and T. That didn’t spell anything that made sense at first sight. He tried a few combinations, but nothing caught his attention. Then he realized the two first names were actually nicknames. Neddy’s given name was Neddleson, the same initial. But the waiter’s name was Imogen.

He replaced the letter ‘P’ for ‘Penalty’ with ‘I’ for ‘Imogen.’ Now he had N, I, G, and H.

A lightning bolt struck his mind. A chill ran down his body from head to toes. Mousetrap kept staring at the paper in shock.

The prophecy.

*     *     *

CrimesDePaixao-02“I knew you would come. Wanna sit down?”

Jeovah, the beach prophet. He and his black filthy jacket.

“A shot of cachaça for the Prophet over here,” Mousetrap ordered to the waiter.

“Make it a triple shot,” added Jeovah, grave as usual. “The young lady deserves it.”

“How did you know it would be her?”

“All I know is that which is written.”

“And what is written?”

“That the end of times has come.”

“What else?”

“This beach’s nightlife is doomed.”

“Doomed by whose will?”

The waiter came with the drinks. Tadeo Mousetrap watched the Prophet raise the glass full of cachaça up to his nose, close his eyes and smell it. He was about to repeat the question when the man opened his eyes.

“People say I’m crazy. What do you think?”

“I don’t think anything. Who is trying to kill the night?”

“The night is dying…” the Prophet continued between draughts. “But death always comes, Mr. Detective. Nobody gets out of here alive. This beach’s nightlife dies whenever a new bar is opened, as strange as that sounds. The night dies when these playboys come here to show off their designer labels, when the street vendors sell booze to the underage, when even waiters supply patrons with cocaine and taxi drivers and love motel owners look the other way for tourists and their twelve-year-old lovers.”

Mousetrap listened with his eyes locked into the Prophet’s red eyes.

“The night dies whenever someone is robbed in a dark corner of the streets, whenever a car is stolen, whenever gym-grown thugs pick up a fight. The night dies whenever a mother gets angry at her baby’s crying, unable to sleep because of the loud music in the bar next door. The night dies in the music blasted from the cars, in the barbecue restaurants that attract people from distant neighborhoods who don’t understand the sea breeze. The night dies because it’s everyone’s fate. And it’s nobody’s fault. So it’s pointless to look for a culprit.”

“What should I do then?”

“The strange days have caught up with us, Mr. Detective. They tracked us down and destroyed our simplest joys. Nothing can be done.”

“There has to be a murderer.”

“Iracema Beach belongs to everyone…” The Prophet smiled sadly, looking at the sea through the bar’s window. “Everybody is entitled to a share of its lynching.”

“How about you, don’t you feel sorry for it? Or for the victims?”

“I feel sorry for the sons of the beach who try to perpetuate what belongs in the past already. They love the night and die with it. Many were not even born here, but are made of the same ocean breeze. It’s not good to grow attached to something that is going to die. Koi-guera… That which is going to die.”

Mousetrap listened carefully. This time around, the Prophet’s words were still crazy, but somehow seemed to be coherent. Or had they always been and nobody had noticed it?

“Who is next?”

“Do you still have no clue?”

“Does letter ‘T’ stand for ‘Tadeo’?”

“What do you think?”

“It would make sense. The murderer has killed the sex, the fun, the drugs and the music. Nothing else is left. Killing the one who wants to expose him would be the last act. The grand finale.”

The Prophet listened sternly.

“The singer’s killer was a man, I know. The same man who was drinking at the bar with her after the show. If there are multiple killers, then they are spelling ‘n-i-g-h-t’ with their murders. Whom does he or do they work for?”

“You don’t understand. Whoever killed those four was the same who killed Iracema Beach on each night with each act of violence. And they are not aware of it, they kill out of ignorance. Come to think of it, maybe it’s better to put an end to its misery. Kill it before it dies. Killing out of love,” added the Prophet, finishing the cachaça and standing up from the table.

“What is going to happen when letter ‘T’ dies?”

“The prophecy comes full circle.”

“What do you mean?”

“I thought you had understood already… It’s the most obvious part of the story, Mr. Detective.”

Every time Mousetrap thought about the prophecy, he felt a little ridiculous. But he could not help it anymore.

“The night dies…” the Prophet repeated, going towards the door. “Doesn’t that hint at anything to you?”

Still thinking about the Prophet’s words, Mousetrap grabbed the wallet to pay the check. Then he noticed the Prophet’s glass of cachaça was still full, like the waiter had brought it. But hadn’t he drunk it all?

*      *     *

CrimesDePaixao-02Tadeo Mousetrap got home, went straight to bed and lied down feeling very sleepy. He needed a good night of sound sleep.

But… something strange was happening…

He turned on the lamp and saw Rien lying on the bed, looking at him. Then he realized Rien was actually female. And she was giving birth in that exact moment. She was having kitten on his bed, many kitten coming out continuously, many…

Mousetrap opened his eyes. The bedroom light was on. He rubbed his hand on the sweaty face, now aware that he had been dreaming. If things kept going that way, he would end up having to undergo some treatment. In the previous month’s poker game, he had seen a letter with the figure of Death, a skeleton riding a horse, the letter ‘H’, such madness. He had thrown the cards on the table, angry for thinking it had been some stupid prank pulled on him by his friends. He had to quit the game he was so shaken by the sight of the card. Then he saw the Prophet’s glass full of cachaça after actually seeing the man drink it all right in front of him. Now he had had a nightmare about a cat giving birth in his own bed.

He took a cold shower and picked up a slice of pizza in the fridge. He ate it cold. On TV, he saw a music video of the Intocáveis Putz Band playing “Manifest of the Beatitudes,” all of them dressed like monks with hoods in dark settings… Mousetrap got angry and turned it off. The deaths were inspiring even music bands in the city.

He looked at Rien sleeping on the couch. He wondered if the cat missed his old owner. He remembered the dream about the cat giving birth. What could that mean? Labor… birth… something important was going to happen… But what? When?

*     *     *

CrimesDePaixao-02“On December 28, nine months will have passed since the first death.”

Tadeo Mousetrap looked at what he had written, thinking about how strange it was. He had left a written testimony of everything he knew about the deaths in case something happened to him. In the letter, he admitted it was very possible he could be entertaining fantasies, but he could not discard the symbolism pointed out by Prophet.

He could easily have considered Gina’s case closed: the coroners had eventually admitted that there had been traces of smoke in the victim’s lungs, so she had choked to death, it had been an accident. But that had seemed suspicious to him. Maybe the coroners had not really found the cause of death. And since the victim was very poor and the case hadn’t attracted a lot of interest, they had made something up in the report.

The other deaths still had no culprits. The police had concluded that the waiter had really drowned. In Neddy’s case, there wasn’t any clue of the blonde in black. Nor there was a clue of the singer’s murderer.

But the strange deaths became an obligatory topic in the bars of Iracema Beach with all kinds of speculation. Some said they had been part of a plan to drive the population’s attention away from the elections while others claimed they had been part of a Machiavellian plan put in practice by businessmen who wanted to replace the bars with luxury hotels.

Others agreed with Prophet: the prophecy was one death away from being fulfilled and for the nightlife of Iracema Beach to die, so everyone should enjoy what was still left. The nights would soon be over. Bands were writing songs about the deaths. Poets would stop by the tables to sell horror-themed cordel literature. On the streets, people wore T-shirts that read “This may be your last night, enjoy it with me.” Bars jumped on the opportunity and ran promotional campaigns. “Enjoy the ApocaLIPse!” was Lip Bar’s advertising piece to its customers. Superstitious business owners were selling their places cheap to avoid a greater loss: if there wouldn’t be a nightlife anymore, who would frequent the bars?

The night, however, was still alive. And on the 28th of December, exactly nine months after Neddy’s death, Tammy Star would be at the Circus Club for the sixth performance of her macabre female impersonation “Kill Me For I Have Already Killed You”, which happened to be based on all those deaths. And Tadeo Mousetrap certainly would be there.

“It’s been nine months since it all began. I feel the mystery will be solved today. I have to be there. If I’ve been making up fantasies, nothing will happen and the crimes will remain unsolved. But if I am right, then someone will die. And maybe I will find out who the murderer is.”

*     *     *

CrimesDePaixao-02It was almost midnight when Tadeo Mousetrap arrived at the Circus Club and sat at a table far from the stage. He ordered cachaça and went to the restroom. He took the opportunity to examine the surroundings, counter, kitchen and corridors. It was not a big place. There was enough room for about twenty tables. There was a small stage in the corner. In case of unrest, the main door would be too narrow for fast evacuation.

No tables were vacant when the lights went off.

“Is everybody there?” a deep voice echoed throughout the club. “The show is going to start.”

The curtain opened for the first act. A female voice sang to the sound of a piano. You look at me that way… You think I don’t know you want to buy me… The scenario was a love hotel room. A man was lying on the bed. A blond woman wore a black dress with a long lateral opening that exposed her beautiful legs. But I am not for sale, my dear… The woman walked slowly up to the bed. Mousetrap moved in the chair, impressed by the beauty of the actress. What’s for sale is your dream of having what you can afford…

Tammy Star was the blond lover of the hotel owner who died of a heart attack while having an orgasm. Then she was the waiter meeting his wife’s lover, who pushed him overboard into the sea. Mousetrap could hardly believe that Tammy was also the actor who played the waiter. How could someone be so convincing playing both a woman and a man?

In every scene, Tammy lip-synced to especially selected songs. On the third one, she was a boy who tried to steal money from the cigarette vendor’s shack and caused the fire that killed her.

“Is Tammy she or he?” Mousetrap asked the waiter.

“Who knows. Another cachaça?”

The act with the singer began with Tammy Star lip-syncing “Little Girl Blue,” a very sad blues as sung by Janis Joplin, and Mousetrap could see that people were very absorbed by the show. Some were visibly moved. The atmosphere was loaded with commotion but also with suspense. When the singer was getting home very happy for having delivered the best performance of her life, Mousetrap heard a cat meow. He looked for the cat on stage, but couldn’t see it anywhere. Then he heard it again louder and all heads were turning, everyone was trying to determine where the sound was coming from.

It came from the entrance. Mousetrap turned around and saw a man stand up in the dark, leaning against the wall, facing the stage. He was wearing a black overcoat. Mousetrap looked more carefully and realized the man’s face was painted like a cat mask. Was that part of the show? On stage, the singer slashed her own throat with a vinyl record, dying happy and fulfilled. Mousetrap looked again and the man had disappeared.

Mousetrap scratched the back of his head, increasingly nervous. Something bothered him. There was a bad omen in the air, he could feel it.

The fifth act started and Tammy Star played a transvestite tricking on the corner under the faint light of a lamppost. Very short white skirt, black stockings, high heels, red Chanel style hair exposing the slender neck. She had eye shadow and red lips. Cars drove by and she made suggestive poses and shouted jokes to the drivers. An engaging bolero called “Lupiscínica” was playing, which served as the base for the name of the show.

Let’s postpone this fight, love…

Suddenly, a car pulled over a short distance away. Tammy smiled. The rear lights lit up and the car came back in reverse. Tammy straightened her skirt and took on her waiting position.

In the sleepy after hours, from one bolero to another…

The car stopped by her side and the tinted glass window rolled down, revealing the faces of a girl and a boy. The transvestite approached the car from the girl’s side, leaned on the window and smiled, offering the breasts as if they were on a tray.

Your mouth keeps secrets from me…

“Good evening, kids.”

“Hi,” answered the girl.

“You drove by yesterday, didn’t you?”

“You are a good observer.”

“I’m also good at other things…”

And today I am even jealous of your absence…

“Are you male or female?”

“I am whatever you and he want, sweetheart.”

“How much to solve that mystery?”

“I’ll make it a hundred for you two.”

But I’m not going to kill anybody anymore because of you…

“You’re very pretty.”

“And you two are really cute.”

“Nice breasts you have there…”

“Wanna touch them?” the transvestite asked, bringing the girl’s hand to his breast. “Such cruel competition, honey.”

“We can come back some other night, when it’s more convenient,” the young man said.

“But don’t take too long, you hear me? I may not be here anymore.”

“Are you moving to another spot?”

“I am the night, sweetheart. The night always comes to an end.”

Kill me because I have killed you already…

A man. He is wearing a black overcoat. His face is painted as a cat’s face. He came from somewhere in the darkness of the street, so quietly he suddenly was there on the sidewalk already. He came closer.

As soon as the transvestite turned around, he landed a violent punch on her face. She was knocked down on the curb, almost landing on the asphalt.

Tammy was scared. She wiped the corner of the mouth with her hand and saw she was bleeding. The man remained standing. The car had taken off fast and the bolero was over. He put his hand under his garment and took out a revolver.

Mousetrap felt his heart freeze. The only sound in the air came from the cars passing by on the avenue. Mousetrap saw Tammy Star stand up and proudly face the man standing in front of her. She screamed with her hand over the wounded lips:

“You just had to ruin everything, didn’t you?”

When the man held the weapon and pointed it at her, Mousetrap did not dare to blink. He was petrified, holding his breath, his full undivided attention on the two, the transvestite facing the man and the man who had shot the transvestite.

Time seemed to have come to a still. Mousetrap didn’t move a single muscle. Something was going to happen immediately and he had no idea what it was.

A thought crossed his mind quickly: what about those cars wheezing by and all those buildings around the scene? Didn’t anybody see anything? Wouldn’t anybody scream and stop a crime? All those windows… hundreds, thousands of windows… The night in the city had so many eyes, and still nobody ever saw anything…

Tammy Star moved quickly, took out a revolver from her purse and aimed it at the man with both hands. The weapon fired. A loud bang, the echo lingering in the air for long seconds, the smoke coming out of the barrel…

Mousetrap saw Tammy step back, stagger on her high heels, lose balance and bump against a lamppost like a pitiful disjointed dummy. Then she slid towards the ground and remained there still while headlights zipped by indifferently on the avenue. And the windows had seen nothing.

The man in the overcoat stepped forward still holding the revolver. He crouched over Tammy’s body, touched her face lightly with his hand and said softly:

“My love…”

Then he stood up and left, walking slowly on the sidewalk. He crossed the avenue with a calm step, never looking at the sides. A car stopped abruptly to avoid running him over and almost involved other cars in an accident. Passers-by saw the body on the sidewalk amidst the agitation and swarmed around it.

Tadeo Mousetrap went there too, clearing his way through the crowd. He approached the fallen body. He saw the blood on the clothes drip on the floor. He lifted Tammy’s head and she opened her eyes slowly. Somewhere in her serene expression a sweet smile sprung up:

“That fortune teller is going to pay…”

“What?” asked Mousetrap.

“She assured me… damn…. I would die in Paris…”

“Hang on a little more, Tammy.”

“It’s the end, my beautiful friend. The end of the sweet lies… of the nights in which we try to die…”

“Don’t speak. Help is on its way.”

“Are you… damn, it hurts… part of this ludicrous drama?”

“Uhnn… yes…” he answered, unsure of what he was saying.

“I think my participation ends here… Did you like it?”

Mousetrap turned around to face the people who were standing by with their indifferent faces.

“Who is he, Tammy? One of your clients?”

“It’s not his fault…”

Mousetrap noticed she was breathing with increasing difficulty.

“Why did he shoot you?”

“The prophecy. It must be fulfilled.”

Mousetrap pulled the bloody hair away from Tammy’s mouth, and while he beheld that beautiful face he recalled what she had told the couple in the car: “I am the night…”

“What is going to happen now?”

“The show is over, sweetheart. The lights will be turned on.”

She closed her eyes and her head fell to the side just as the lights were turned on. Mousetrap looked at the motionless body in his arms, Tammy’s beautiful body. He noticed one of the breasts was sticking out, a beautiful breast. He looked at her legs. He stretched his arm slowly and touched and felt Tammy’s sex…

“I’d never seen that technique, Mousetrap.”

He turned around quickly, pulling his hand back. He recognized Lieutenant Trinity standing up with the police car parked behind him. He laid Tammy’s head on the floor and stood up. His clothes were drenched in blood.

Mousetrap checked his watch: one o’clock in the morning. Then he realized the illumination did not come from any car headlights. Or from surrounding buildings. The night was bright in Iracema Beach. Strangely bright.

Such cruel brightness, someone might say.

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Ricardo Kelmer – blogdokelmer.com

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(script for a movie soon)

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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.

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> Amazon (kindle) english/portuguese

> In portuguese – blog 

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A little incident in Hukat

25/03/2020

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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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A LITTLE INCIDENT IN HUKAT

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I entered the High Command room and was welcomed by two directors and Wakl Egkonie herself, general director of Project Sapiens.

“Nice to meet you, monitor Yehdu Arhkan,” she said, shaking my hand sternly. “First of all, congratulations on your work in the PR Department. Employees like yourself bring honor to the company’s name.”

“Thank you, Madam.”

In four thousand and five hundred years, I had had few opportunities to personally meet Wakl Egkonie, general director of the species monitoring project assigned to the InterPlan company. And she seemed tougher each time.

“You know God has been trying to repair the instability in his operating system for some time without success. We believe you can help us solve the problem.”

I was surprised. Yes, as a monitor of the Department of Parallel Realities, otherwise known as “PRs,” I was aware of the problem with God’s instability. But how could I ever help him?

Built in Vehz, the planet from where we come, God was the most advanced psycomputer of its generation and the great triumph of InterPlan in its struggle to become the best new species monitoring company in the galaxy. A psycomputer is the nerve center of a monitoring project, capable of performing psychic communication with members of the project and with the monitored species, also monitoring the parallel realities of the planet’s dimensional belt and managing the communication with the company head office in the native planet. God did all that in Project Sapiens with such celerity and precision never achieved by any other psycomputer of any company, which made all the Vehzys very proud.

The goal of a monitoring project is to develop a dominant species in a given planet and steer its psychic evolution so as to ensure it will survive the natural difficulties, make contact with species in other planets and bring the Galactic Union together. The species chosen by God was a hominid on planet Earth that began to stand out two hundred thousand years ago for its notable adaptability: the Homo sapiens.

Along with the first batch of High Command crew members and the monitoring team, God was sent to the project’s base on Earth through the dimensional portal that connects Vehz to Earth. Connection with the Homo sapiens was established through capture of the psychic records of a sample that represented the most evolved groups of the species. From that starting point, God could, without the knowledge of humans, monitor and influence the psychic evolution of the species within the project’s deadline, when the base would be deactivated and God and the Vehzys would return home.

“I will be honored to help, director. But how am I supposed to do that?”

“Recently, God discovered that Rehf Icul might be the cause of the instability.”

Another surprise. Rehf Icul was the project’s most dangerous defector. And he had been my best friend until a thousand years ago.

“As you know, monitor, we still haven’t captured Rehf Icul and his band of rebels. Due to the instability, God cannot locate their current PR. If Rehf really is the cause of the instability, it’s yet another reason for his urgent capture. Since you were his best friend, we know you can help us find him.”

So that was it. They intended to use my psychic records to capture Project Sapiens’s biggest traitor. I knew what could happen to Rehf if they caught him: he would be arrested again, submitted to trial for high treason and sentenced to the maximum punishment: all his psychic records would be transferred to a synthetic worm that would be permanently placed in the company’s Monitoring Museum exhibit, in Vehz. Rehf’s consciousness would be preserved, which means he would forever keep awareness of himself as Rehf, but limited to the physical abilities of the worm. Maximum punishment was InterPlan’s method of reproaching those who betrayed the project. Harsh punishment indeed, but necessary and properly authorized by the Monitoring Court.

Rehf and I had been friends when we were still children in Vehz, and it was due to my involvement with him that I had also acquired my interest in monitoring projects. To our great satisfaction, we had joined InterPlan together, when it was already in charge of Project Sapiens. His in-depth knowledge of new species psychology had soon stirred the interest of other companies, but InterPlan knew not to lose him and introduced him to the High Command. We were transferred to the Earth base around the same time, three thousand years ago. I was a monitor in the PR Department and he went on to direct the Human Department, replacing the director who had just retired. However, Rehf began to disagree with some of God’s decisions and lost his position. He insisted on dissenting and disseminating his subversive ideas. He was diagnosed with the Syndrome of Ohj and was submitted to psychiatric treatment. One day, I was visiting him at the hospital and he told me that if God kept mismanaging, humanity would soon terminate itself, which could bring the project to its end and cause immense loss to InterPlan besides the waste of a species with outstanding potential. That was obviously a blasphemy, but I ignored his opinion as he was obviously still not cured and I told him not to worry because God was infallible and knew what he was doing. That was the last time I saw him. On the following day, he was sent to the maximum security prison in the PR of Groor where inmates are held in complete isolation, and I understood that his case was worse than I’d thought. As a precaution, all other patients who suffered from the same syndrome were sent along with him, a total of twelve among men and women. Eight hundred years later, Rehf led a revolt. As he knew the portals that interconnect the PRs, he escaped from Groor with the other twelve rebels and their whereabouts has been unknown since then. That’s how I lost my dear friend.

Yes, it’s true that human behavior has been dangerous in recent times: religious fanaticism, nuclear wars and environmental threats have triggered the alarm at the base many times. But that is due to a self-destructive inclination of the species that already existed before the project and which, thank God, is under control.

“We are aware of the risks involved in emergency missions, monitor Yehdu, especially this one,” added the general director, looking firmly into my eyes. “So we are willing to reward you accordingly. You take us to the rogue Vehzy, and in exchange for that, we will grant you immediate graduation in monitoring. When you return from the mission, you will also be director of the PR Department.”

I could never have anticipated that. When someone joins a monitoring project, they know there will be a lot of work to do for the next five thousand years – one fourth of the average life span of a Vehzy – before they can retire. And they know the highest position they will ever achieve is graduated monitor since directing a department is exclusive to the companies’ High Command. What director Wakl Egkonie was proposing to me was unprecedented.

“So, what is your answer?”

“I need to think about it, Madam.”

Joining emergency missions required that my psychic records be completely monitored by God. That meant that for as long as I was carrying out the mission, he would follow up on all my sensorial and mental experiences. He would see everything I see and have access to each one of my thoughts, feelings, sensations and intuitions.

“Submit your decision by tomorrow.” She signaled two guards, who came closer. “They will be in charge of your safety, monitor Yehdu. And remember: this is a matter of maximum security.”

I left the room escorted by the guards and went to the lodging building. I entered my room and the guards stood outside on either side of the door.

Yes, the High Command could have mustered me soon after Rehf’s escape, two hundred years ago. But they didn’t because they thought God would soon locate the runaway, which, quite strangely, never happened. They certainly had put a lot of thought into the idea of having a mere monitor participate in such a serious matter and, even more, offering him a position in the High Command. It was definitely a pressing matter.

I had joined the project four thousand and five hundred years before, still in Vehz. In five hundred years I would be retiring and going back home, to the family and friends I had left behind and would live comfortably until the end of my life. However, retiring as a director of the PR Department, I would be almost a king in Vehz. Was that enough to make up for the high risk of the mission?

*     *     *

On that night, alone in my room, I reviewed some important information. If I were to accept the mission, I had better not miss any detail.

Avatars. All the Vehzys who work at the project base are avatars of themselves. In other words, their individual self awareness is temporarily installed in a physical body created in the likeness of the monitored species while the original body remains in the company’s head office in the native planet, in full induced slumber. If the avatar dies, the original body also dies and vice-versa. Hundreds of employees, scientists and soldiers work simultaneously at the base. They retire after five thousand years of service and are replaced. They don’t have any contact with the monitored species, but the reports generated by the psycomputer provide a detailed view of the psychic evolution of the species.

Parallel realities. They belong to the planets’ dimensional belt, and like the project base, do not exist in the same space dimension as the planet, which prevents them from being known by the monitored species. They may be as small as an asteroid or as large as the Earth’s moon, and life thrives in them as much as on the planet with evolutionary variations in certain species. Installed in some PR, the base is the projects’ operational center.

Portals. The PRs in the planet’s belt including the base are interconnected through dimensional portals that materialize spontaneously and serve as teleportation tunnels in scientific missions or for hunting defectors. There are portals on Earth, but only the base can access them. That prevents defectors who inhabit the PRs from teleporting to the planet, getting in contact with humans and causing even more problems.

The Syndrome of Ohj. It’s a typical disease of monitoring projects that occurs when monitors become so attached to a monitored species that their professional objective judgment becomes impaired to the point that they become insubordinate. The syndrome is treated in the hospital at the base. The treatment is usually effective. Rehf’s case was special because he had been a member of the High Command and had vital information on the project. Capturing him was a matter of honor for InterPlan. Even though I hadn’t been in contact with Rehf at all since he went to prison in Groor, I always remembered him and felt sorry about his falling ill so badly. I admired his courage, but he was a traitor and deserved to be punished.

God could count on me as usual. I would accept the mission.

*     *     *

The tracking session on my records took a few minutes and it indicated that Rehf was very likely located in Hukat, a PR to which no kind of mission had ever been assigned. The initial plan was to invade Hukat. I would go with the Combat Legion. But it would be too risky because God did not possess any information on the PR. For that reason, he decided I should go first. Alone.

I was afraid and had chills. I wasn’t a soldier, I was an office desk employee of the PR Department. My job was to work on reports and I had never left the base. But now I was required to go to an unknown PR, alone to avoid suspicion, under a false identity. I was supposed to get close enough to Rehf so God could ascertain his exact location and authorize the invasion by the Combat Legion. And I had to do it in no more than twelve hours, after which God would lose track of my location because that PR was still unknown. It was a very dangerous mission, but God had his attention focused on me and that made me more confident. And very honored for serving him.

Shortly before I left for the mission in Hukat, I received the graduation honors directly from Wakl Egkonie like she had promised. I was now a graduated monitor and would become director of the PR Department when I returned. Yes, I was fully aware of what I was getting into: Project Sapiens had never invested so much into any other capturing mission in its entire history.

I was sent to Hukat early in the morning. The base now was in high alert condition and God was watching every one of my thoughts and actions. I was glad that crossing the portal only took a few seconds. However, I was unlucky and popped up in a desert during a sand storm so intense it darkened the sky. Danger.

First things first: I had to recover from the dizziness we get from entering a PR. But how could I get any rest inside that storm? After a few attempts, I stood up. Emergency situation level 3. I tried to protect my eyes, nose and ears, but there was just too much sand. Emergency level 4. Dizzy and breathing with increasing difficulty, I tried to walk, but the sand had already buried my legs. Maximum emergency. Everything pointed to my imminent death and a complete failure of the mission.

Then I saw the dorht before me, a kind of hairy winged ostrich that was used for airborne transportation in a few PRs. The dorht bent its long legs, crouched, and a black figure jumped out from its back.

“Unless you can breathe in the sand, I advise you to come with me now.”

It was a woman. She helped me climb on the dorht and I held on to her firmly by the waist with the little strength I still had. The animal stretched its legs, ran a few steps and took flight while I closed my eyes to protect them from the sand. Everything I wanted in that moment was to get out of there and breathe normally.

Minutes later, we reached an oasis away from the storm and the woman helped me get to a tent where I laid down on a mat and passed out. I woke up one hour later. The woman was sitting on the sand by the tent entrance, watching me. She was all dressed in black, with pants, boots, a short tunic and a turban that covered all her face except her green eyes. She handed me a flask with water.

“Drink it. You need to hydrate.”

“Where am I?” I asked, sitting up. I felt a lot better, but a little confused.

“Hukat desert outpost. My name is Kirtl.”

Hukat desert… I gradually retrieved my records, the portal, the flight on the dorht… Hukat mission. The records were intact.

“You look familiar,” she added. “What is your name?”

While I drank the water, I noticed she was carrying a laser pistol on her waist, restricted for use by Groor security forces. She certainly was one of the twelve fugitives. Danger.

“Sakiz.” The name assigned to me for the mission. “I am a monitor of the PR Department and I just defected.”

“How can I be sure?”

“Rehf Icul knows me. Can you take me to where he is?”

“Not for a while. You will have to stay here with me.”

“Why?”

“We are in maximum alert condition. God intends to invade Hukat.”

I restrained myself to hide my surprise. How did they know that? I had to convince her to take me to Rehf. And there was only one way now.

I leaped and tackled her. She was knocked down. We rolled on the floor until I was on top of her. However, when I was getting ready to take her pistol, she touched my neck and I immediately felt a terrible cramp in the muscles of my neck. I couldn’t breathe and had to let her go. I was left lying on the floor, writhing in pain. She handcuffed me and sat at the entrance of the tent again.

“You should be thankful for your life, monitor. You wouldn’t have escaped that storm.”

I sat up and breathed with difficulty. While recovering, I calculated that Rehf should have been there since their escape from Groor. They certainly had learned to fight in prison. Maybe they had more weapons they had brought from there.

“Why did the High Command send you here?”

I remained silent. I had to figure out quickly some way to convince her to take me to Rehf.

“I shall respect your right not to speak, monitor, but remember you are my prisoner now. And I won’t be so kind the next time.”

“You can still surrender, Kirtl. And God will ensure you have a fair trial.”

“If you trust God’s justice that much, you really don’t know about what happens in this project.”

The syndrome of Ohj. It made people lose their respect for God. It was disgraceful.

“I was a prisoner in Groor for eight hundred years, waiting for a trial that I never had. Eight hundred years of forced hard labor. I had to prostitute myself so I could eat. Where is God’s justice?”

That was blasphemy.

“If what you’re saying were true, God would have alerted the High Command of such abuse and…”

“And what? Send his Angels there?” she laughed. “The Angels were frequent visitors in Groor, monitor. I prostituted myself to them.”

‘Angels’ was a disdainful moniker ascribed to the High Command. If that was true, then the information that came from Groor was being tampered with before it reached the PR Department, so I was not aware of it. Obviously, it was a lot more conceivable that she was lying.

“The Angels were very rough, monitor. They did despicable things. Such a shame that my fellow Vehzys became mere walking records deprived of feelings. But it’s not their fault only: the coldness and arrogance of God, this God that now listens to me through you, contaminated the whole project, to the point that everyone forgets it is just a psycomputer. Back in the base, people almost hang their heads down out of shame whenever his name is uttered.”

God, cold and arrogant? How could she say those words? They were so infamous their mere utterance gave me the urge to assault her.

“By monitoring the human psyche with such presumptuousness, the project’s psycomputer is causing the vast majority of humans to believe in a single god. And to refer to it by its own name: God. Do you think that is just coincidence?”

She was deliberately provoking me. Those were stupid claims, but I couldn’t afford to lose control.

“If the abuses you describe really happened, that means God has misled us all. Who is worthy of more credit, the most advanced psycomputer in the galaxy or a project defector?”

“So you think I made it all up?”

I didn’t answer. It was useless. She raised her tunic and began to open the leather vest she had under it. Danger. Alert. Her right breast was revealed to my eyes. The other one, however, was not there. In its place was a huge, very ugly scar.

I was repulsed and gulped hard. Her breast seemed to have been extirpated. I looked away. That wasn’t true. She was trying to mislead me.

“In spite of the kindness of the Angels, monitor, today I feel a lot more whole than when I arrived in Groor,” she said, closing her vest. “Believe me.”

*     *     *

That situation was untenable. God would lose my location in a few hours and the mission would be aborted. I had to find Rehf somehow. Fast.

“Kirtl?”

She was outside the tent giving water to the dorht.

“I need to see Rehf.”

“Impossible.”

“You certainly know what it means to hold a monitor prisoner…”

“It means an honor to me,” she said, interrupting me. “You are our first official visit in Hukat. By the way, I know you didn’t say your real name. What is it really?”

I had no reason to keep lying anymore.

“Yehdu.”

She turned around, surprised.

“Yehdu Arhkan? PR Department?”

“Yes.”

“I knew I had seen you before!” she exclaimed, coming quickly into the tent. To my surprise, she unlocked my handcuffs and my hands were free. “Come on, I’m going to take you to the person you’re looking for.”

“Really? At least explain this sudden change.”

“You will learn soon.”

She walked towards the dorht and I followed her. Before we mounted, she put a finger on my neck and warned me, “You’re still my prisoner, monitor. Don’t forget that.”

She was leading me to Rehf, so there would be no benefit in causing any conflict. But if she knew that God was monitoring the situation, why would she do that and risk the safety of her leader?

We flew over part of the desert and arrived at another oasis. The dorht landed. There were tents and other dorhts. The other fugitives from Groor were also there. They were all dressed in similar fashion to Kirtl’s, they were armed, and the tension in the air was almost palpable. Kirtl conferred with one of the men reservedly and came back to me.

“I’ve been on duty at the outpost, so I wasn’t aware of the latest events at the base. So I didn’t know you were coming to Hukat. Sorry about the bad manners, Yehdu. Now follow me, please.”

That sudden respect towards me was intriguing. But I was even more intrigued by the fact that they knew what was happening at the base. How could they know?

Kirtl led me to a rock and we went inside it through a small opening. We went down hundreds of feet through a narrow corridor lit by torches and entered a room with the walls made of rock. While I wondered how Rehf would receive me after eight hundred years, I saw something I simply could not believe. In a corner of the room, I saw a psycomputer.

“Rehf?” said Kirtl. “Yehdu Arhkan is here.”

I looked around and saw nobody. Then I heard:

“Yehdu… My old friend.”

Immediate assessment of vocal records. Positive identification: it really was Rehf. But I still couldn’t see him.

“Where is he?” I asked Kirtl.

“Rehf is on Earth. But he can communicate with us through Goddess.”

False information. There were no teleportation portals between Earth and the PRs.

“I’ll leave you two alone now,” she said, leaving the room.

The psycomputer there, in a PR at the bottom of a cave didn’t make any sense. And what was Goddess? Then Rehf’s image gradually appeared at the center of the room in a life size hologram. He was wearing a long white tunic and sandals. His hair had grown and touched his shoulders. He had a peaceful expression on his face and smiled the same friendly smile he had always had. I was fascinated while I watched that image before me. It was strange to see my old friend again. My feelings were confused…

“Maybe you don’t understand a few things, Yehdu,” said Rehf, making me go back into the room. “I can explain. But first let me tell you that I’m very happy for meeting you again and that I always cherish the memory of our friendship.”

“I wish I could say the same, Rehf,” I replied, recovering control of myself. “But you betrayed the project.”

“I understand your point of view.”

“What is this psycomputer?”

“That’s Goddess. God’s twin sister.”

Goddess. No record whatsoever. He was lying.

“You are one fine monitor, Yehdu, and congratulations on your graduation. But I don’t believe you will ever be in charge of directing the PR Department.”

How could he know all those things?

“You were naïve to think they would allow that to happen. And to believe in God so much. But you act that way because you’re a good Vehzy.”

“God would not deceive me.”

“You are not aware of everything that is involved in this project, Yehdu. You don’t know, for example, that the original Project Sapiens consisted of two twin psycomputers, one at the base representing the Yang principle and the other in a PR representing the Yin principle, both acting in harmony, complementing each other, united as one.”

“You are… lying.”

“The project was initiated two hundred thousand years ago with the two psycomputers, but God took advantage of the down time during a system update in Goddess, convinced the company’s Council that she had to be removed from the project and he should operate alone. That would also allow him to doctor some project data before it were submitted to the Monitoring Court, which was illicit, of course, but would bring many advantages to InterPlan. And the Council agreed.”

Goddess… In fact, I knew that there had been two psycomputers in the project’s inception and that one of them had been deactivated due to serious flaws.

“God removed Goddess from the project and she was deactivated,” continued Rehf. “For God, his sister really ceased to exist. Since then, the High Command has been operating solely based on God’s data. In other words, a Yang view of the issues and, evidently, the psychic balance of the Homo sapiens was lost as a result of the denial of its own completeness.”

While I looked at Rehf’s image before me, I performed quick combinations of data. But everything was too odd and I began to feel very confused. Rehf was not on Earth, he couldn’t be, it was impossible. He could only be in Hukat, maybe in that cave. I had to buy more time so God would locate me.

“How could you know all that?”

“When we were still in Vehz, I thought the project was being executed perfectly well. Just like you, Yehdu, I blindly trusted God and believed the officially stated reason why the second psycomputer had been deactivated. Only after I arrived at the base and closely monitored humans, I realized the species had become one-sided in its psychic development, placing too much value on the masculine aspects and setting feminine ones aside, and that was obviously causing increasingly greater imbalance on the species and the planet. You certainly remember my protests, how I was arrested and ran away from Groor with my peers. I came to Hukat because I had been informed that this was the only PR out of God’s reach. And I found the reason here: Goddess.”

I felt something tremble inside me. For an instant, I was afraid it could all be true.

“We reactivated Goddess. She was connected to God and we had access to all of his records. That’s how we know everything that happens at the base.”

“But how did you foil God for two hundred years?”

“God himself did it. Whenever he located this PR, the presence of Goddess would cause him so much confusion that he automatically rejected the data. God had really convinced himself that his sister didn’t exist.”

Could that all be true? What else regarding the project had been missing from my records?

“Unfortunately, God became obsessed with power. He thinks humanity is being tended along the best possible path, but nobody, not even a psycomputer can be on a good path reneging its own full nature. Enamored with God’s apparent self sufficiency, the Council gave him a full pass to even rule on trials and sentences, which is obviously reckless. However, because he alters the project’s data, the Monitoring Court knows nothing of the ongoing outrageous acts.”

I was speechless.

“Fortunately, we successfully reactivated Goddess and she reconnected to the psyche of humanity which strengthened the feminine aspects, but more is still needed. This greater psychic balance of the Homo sapiens is exactly what caused instability in God’s operating system. In order to repair it, his only choice is to focus his attention here. That’s what we did.”

“So my coming to Hukat… was a trap for God?”

“I prefer to say it was a bitter remedy. By bringing you here and forcing God to acknowledge the existence of Goddess again, I shall make him understand that she must be reintegrated in the project. The human race will thus be saved from imminent destruction and God will resume his work in its early stages with his legitimate companion. Obviously, InterPlan’s Council in Vehz will not be happy at all about this, for they will have to explain themselves to the Monitoring Court.”

The data was not consistent. I didn’t know what to make of all that. While I felt betrayed by God, which was unconceivable to me, I was afraid I was being misled by Rehf.

“Are you really on Earth?”

“Yes. I chose a region in the Middle East because it’s so similar to Hukat. I’m still adapting, but living among the humans has been a gratifying experience. And soon my twelve partners will be brought here.”

“But… that is impossible.”

“God taught us that the only portal to Earth is located at the base, didn’t he? There is also one in Hukat. And I came to Earth because if God ever wants to capture me, he will have to intervene directly on the planet by sending in the Combat Legion. He can only do that if he is completely crazy, because that would throw the planet into absolute chaos. Humanity will know the truth and that could be the end of the project.”

“I am sorry to tell you, Rehf, I believe you forgot a little detail. As a last resort, God can disengage the avatar from the original body. If that is done, you will wake up in Vehz and your entire effort will have been futile.”

“Goddess has done it first. Inverse disengagement has been executed already.”

Inverse disengagement. No records.

“Here is a new piece of information for you, Yehdu. While it’s true that only God can disengage the avatar from its original body, the self awareness can be irreversibly transferred to the avatar. That is called inverse disengagement, and only Goddess can do it. My original body is dead in Vehz and my avatar is my only body now. The same has been done to my partners. We are also humans now and our world is Earth. And poor God is still trying to understand what happened.”

That was all so preposterous I could not think anymore.

“Through your coming to this cave, Yehdu, God is forced to acknowledge the existence of Goddess again. If he chooses to hide the truth from the High Command, who still believe that Goddess is decommissioned, he will not be able to command the invasion of Hukat. If he cannot invade Hukat and if he cannot intervene on Earth, what else is left for him?”

Rehf’s words made sense. But that could not be true…

“God can see me and hear me now, Yehdu. As the remarkable psycomputer that he is, he knows that the solution to such dilemmas is to experience the gut wrenching pain of the opposites till the end, so the third way can be implemented. In other words, he has no choice but to surrender and bring Goddess back into the project. The third way sounds very much like his own death, I know, but in reality it’s always a rebirth.”

Speaking now was the sage Rehf Icul I had always looked up to, one of the greatest authorities on new species psychology in the galaxy. It suddenly felt as if we were in Vehz five thousand years ago and I listened to him discourse on monitoring projects with all the necessary care and respect for the new species… How could I simply have forgotten everything he had taught me?

“The High Command thinks that my partners and I suffer from the syndrome of Ohj. But we know that God is the one who is ill. And now that you also know it, it’s time for you to choose your fate. If you want to join us, you are very welcome.”

I didn’t know what to answer. I didn’t even know what to think.

“I have to leave you now, Yehdu.”

“Wait. Are we going to… speak again?”

“I honestly don’t know because it’s impossible to predict God’s next move.”

While the hologram faded away, I stood there looking at nothing, stunned by so much information. If Rehf really was on Earth, the mission had been in vain. On the other hand, if he was still in Hukat, I had just a few hours left to find him.

And if his intention was to make me insecure, he had accomplished it.

*     *     *

“Rehf always said very good things about you. He said that one day you would also learn the truth.”

Kirtl and I were back at the outpost at the first oasis. It was nighttime already and we were sitting on the sand, leaning against a rock, watching the starry sky of Hukat. I didn’t know what to make of all that, but I didn’t think Kirtl was an enemy anymore.

“I don’t know what I have learned. The only thing I know is that I’m still officially on duty. However, if Rehf really is not here, maybe there is no point in attacking Hukat.”

“He is not here, believe me.”

“I’d like to know what God is thinking now that he is once again aware of the existence of… his sister.”

“Maybe he will accept Goddess again. Or maybe he will flip out for good.”

I was feeling vulnerable. The latest experiences had made me very confused and insecure. I didn’t know what to think and I didn’t know what to do next. I felt helpless like I had never felt in my whole life.

“Do you remember Vehz?” she asked me.

“A lot.”

“When are you going back there?”

“In five hundred years.”

“Not long. Will you miss it here?”

“I don’t think so. I never got used to humans and their self-destructiveness.”

“It’s not their fault. They wage wars and kill in the name of God while God is no more than a psycomputer bedazzled by the concept of power.”

Those words still bothered me… However, if all those things were really true, she was absolutely right.

“Yehdu… Do you think there is something else like God, a psycomputer to monitor our own evolution?”

“A God? For us?”

I laughed at the idea. It was ridiculous to think that we could also be under watch.

“There is no such record.”

“Records! That is the malady of our species, Yehdu. We think life is all about equations, levels, reports… It was our obsession for data control that created a psycomputer fanatical about itself. We need less records and more feelings.”

Kirtl made me think through other angles. I was displeased at having to admit that maybe things were quite different from what I had always been used to seeing.

“I think this is a difficult time for humans, radical changes might happen. But what about us, Yehdu, are we better off with you being strung along by God all this time and me being treated like a sick person, always on the run?”

I had no answer.

“Why don’t you join us?”

“I don’t want to be indicted as a traitor. Much less live forever as a worm in a museum.”

“If you undergo inverse disengagement, you will be free from that risk.”

Become a human forever… I had never thought about that, especially because I didn’t know it was possible. It was a radical procedure. And I wanted to go back to Vehz.

“Now you know about everything, Yehdu. Why don’t you fight for the truth?”

Fight for the truth. Yes, I could do that, except for a detail…

“Because… I don’t know what the truth is anymore.”

I was sweating and trembling, on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Kirtl noticed it and hugged me tenderly. I accepted her hug. I felt overwhelmed by a cosmic loneliness, absolutely immeasurable. Old truths perished at my feet and there was nothing, nothing to replace them. Which feeling was the more unbearable: betraying God or… being betrayed by him?

Kirtl’s hug reassured me and I gradually felt better. She took off the turban and I could see her delicate face and her short black hair. She looked like a regular girl now, not the dangerous defector hunted by the High Command. She was so beautiful and loving I could not resist and I kissed her. Her warm lips made me recollect old sensations… When had I exchanged caresses for the last time? I thought that maybe it was a good idea to join her and fight for the future of humanity, to become one of them…

I checked my watch. My twelve-hour deadline would soon be over. It really didn’t seem that Rehf Icul was in Hukat. What would God do?

“Kirtl, can you take me to the place where you found me? I’m going back to the base.”

“Are you sure you want to do that?”

“Soon I will be retired and back to my planet and my family. That’s all I have left.”

She looked at me and smiled. It was a sad and resigned smile.

“I understand.”

Minutes later, we reached the same place in the desert where I had arrived and I climbed down from the dorht.

“Good luck, Kirtl,” I said, knowing that I would probably never see her again.

“You too, Yehdu.”

I walked up to the exact spot and seconds later I began to feel the typical discomfort of being teleported. I was in the hands of God.

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Teleportation of monitor Yehdu Arhkan finished successfully and end of Hukat mission. May I confirm? YES.
Transmission of Hukat mission report files to the High Command. May I confirm? NO.
Complete destruction of Hukat mission report files. May I confirm? YES.
Deployment of Combat Legion for intervention on Earth. May I confirm? YES.
Immediate deportation of monitor Yehdu Arhkan to Vehz under accusation of high treason. May I confirm? YES.
Sentencing monitor Yehdu Arhkan to maximum punishment. May I confirm? YES.

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Ricardo Kelmer – blogdokelmer.com

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(script for a movie soon)

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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.

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> Amazon (kindle) english/portuguese

> In portuguese – blog 

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The vertigo

25/03/2020

AVertigem-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 VERTIGO

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AVertigem-01The events I will recount now happened a long time ago. But it feels like it was yesterday.

I was in Quixadá on that one Saturday to take care of certain affairs pertaining to a property of my family, the house where we had lived for many years before we moved to the capital which had been rented out since then. I had convinced my parents to sell it and invest the money in the stock market with a view to realizing more profitable gains. But the afternoon was coming to its end and other potential buyers would visit the house on Sunday, so I decided to stay in the city. I checked in at a tiny hotel in the downtown area. The weather wasn’t so hot anymore after I took a shower, so I thought it would be nice to go out for a walk in the neighborhood.

Twenty-one years. That’s how long I had been away from Quixadá. I had been born and lived there until I was fifteen years old, when my family moved to Fortaleza. My childhood friends, the soccer played with a ball made of socks, the kermesses on the town square, everything was suddenly left behind. Determined to be successful in the big city at any cost, I soon adapted to its laws and focused on my studies and work, saving money and spending very little time on girlfriends and amusements. And I convinced myself, day after day, that the big city was my one true city. I soon traded the mindset of a small town boy for the metropolitan behavior, and Quixadá increasingly became no more than a mere hometown name in my government-issued identity documents.

“Edson?”

Somebody had called my name. It was an old lady. She was leaning on the gate of a house on the other side of the street. She was smiling and waving at me. I crossed the street, searching her face in the depths of my memory.

“I can tell you don’t remember me.”

I really didn’t.

“I was your math teacher.”

I finally remembered her. Ms. Celia. She was quite older and heavyset now.

“I’m sorry, Ms. Celia. It’s been so long.”

“I have a good memory. You must be… thirty-five?”

“Thirty-six.”

“You don’t look so different. Are you back to your hometown?”

“No. Just passing.”

She took me by the arm and invited me to go inside a little.

“I just made some cashew sweet,” she said with glee.

I wanted to go right back to the hotel. I had brought my notebook and was planning to spend the night working on company reports. But I couldn’t find the heart to refuse so I let her lead me to the porch.

“Sit down a little, I’m going to get it.”

It was an ample porch in front of the house that stretched fully around to one of the sides. I assessed the area and concluded it was larger than the one-bedroom apartment where I lived. There were two chairs in that part of the porch, both rocking chairs made of iron and lined with colored plastic strands, something you just don’t find in big cities anymore. I sat on one of them and the rocking motion of the chair almost gave me vertigo.

Ms. Celia came back soon and handed me a bowl full of sweet. We talked a little while I ate the sweet, the kind with red sauce, absolutely delicious. I told her my parents were well, we were going to sell the house, I was still single and worked as the financial director of a company. Then she told me she was retired, her sons were all married, and Quixadá still was the same place it was before I left except it was even hotter now. She said that then opened a fan and began to wave it to refresh herself.

“This is delicious sweet, Ms. Celia.”

“Do you want some more? I’ll get it.”

“No, thank you,” I replied, although I did want some more.

“Then I’m going get you some water.”

She took the bowl and went inside towards the kitchen. I thought about this habit of small town people of offering food to guests. They’ll always think you’re too thin and in dire need of putting on a few pounds. I suddenly felt the presence of someone next to me, at the door of the living room. I turned around expecting to see Ms. Celia, but it was an elderly man. He was tall and slender. He was all dressed in white, including pants, jacket, shoes and a felt hat, as if ready to go out. His eyes were black and they stared at me in an odd manner…

“Good afternoon,” I greeted him.

He didn’t answer. He stood on the same spot, looking at me in that strange, expressionless manner. Actually, he did have an expression. He looked absent. But his absence was focused on me and that is difficult to explain. It felt as if he were not there but knew I was. I felt uncomfortable, threatened, as if whoever was staring at me through the eyes of that old man somehow knew who I was. As if he knew a lot about me.

I turned and looked at the street. The sun was setting behind the houses among the blood-red clouds, ushering in the hinterland evening.

“Come on, Pepeo, won’t you talk to the young man?” said Ms. Celia, coming from the kitchen. “It’s Edson, son of Laura’s, you met her. Do you remember her, Pepeo?”

He kept still and quiet, leaning against the door. Ms. Celia handed me the glass of water and sat down. I drank it with gusto. When I turned around to look at Pepeo, the spot was empty. He had gone back into the house and I hadn’t noticed.

“He is mom’s cousin-in-law,” explained Ms. Celia, not minding the sudden disappearance of the old man. “He has a few loose screws.”

“Oh…”

“He used to live with her in Caiçarinha. When she died, we brought him to live with us.”

“Didn’t he get married?”

“No. No children either. He is ninety years old already, but still in good health.”

“Does he cause you any problems?”

“Pepeo is well behaved, he wouldn’t hurt a fly. He has his quirks, but we are used to them. We get used to everything, don’t we?”

Ms. Celia laughed. She was amused by the in-law’s insanity.

“What quirks?”

“Crazy people things. For example, he says he keeps little creatures. But nobody has ever seen them.”

“They must be invisible,” I joked.

“He liked you, I tell you.”

“Me? He gave me such a strange look.”

“He won’t even look at people he doesn’t like.”

I smiled. I was flattered.

“The sweet was great, Ms. Celia, thank you,” I said while standing up.

“Are you sure you don’t want more? I always have plenty of sweet.”

“I have to go back to the hotel.”

I telephoned my parents at night. We talked about the sale of the house then I told Mom I had been with Ms. Celia and Pepeo. She said she knew him.

“Pepeo is good at finding lost objects, did you know that?” she said.

“What do you mean?”

“If you lose anything, just talk to him and he will find it in no time.”

“Only you could believe such a thing, Mom,” I replied, laughing at her small town superstitions.

“Oh, I heard Milena got a divorce. She is very single now. Just like you.”

“Milena who, Mom?”

“The one you used to date.”

Milena was a girl in Quixadá I had dated in my teens. I had completely forgotten about her.

“Thank you for the tip, Mom, but I prefer women of the capital.”

After I hung up, I sat on the bed and turned on the notebook to get started on the tasks that would be awaiting me at the office on Monday, and there were a lot of them. I didn’t really get around to doing them. I fell asleep hard while working with the notebook still on, something that had never happened to me before.

AVertigem-01On Sunday, I showed the house to a married couple who were definitely interested in buying it. We discussed the price and agreed that I would come back on the following weekend to close the deal. I went back to the hotel with my mission accomplished. Soon, the house where I had lived my childhood, my very last connection with the town, would be turned into a good sum of money that I hoped to multiply in the stock market in little time.

I had lunch at the hotel and went to my room to take a shower. While I was getting dressed, I looked at the mirror and thought my image was rather different… I remembered I had read somewhere that every mirror reflects our image in its own way and we get used to seeing the reflex every day so we don’t quite recognize ourselves in other mirrors.

I was thinking about that when suddenly Pepeo came across my mind. And I could almost feel the same unease I had felt in his presence on the previous day. Pepeo and his odd stare. It was expressionless, but it had an effect on me. Pepeo and that stare of someone who seemed to know a lot about me.

I left the room to take care of checkout. I looked at my watch: five o’clock in the afternoon. I walked up to the car parked in front of the hotel and got in. However, instead of driving towards the town exit, I went to Ms. Celia’s house. I parked the car, came out of it and clapped my hands. She soon came out with a smile.

“I came to say good-bye.”

“But it’s still too hot for you to drive on the road,” she said, pulling me inside and closing the gate. “Come in a little. Did you have lunch?”

“Yes, thank you.”

“But you accept a little cashew sweet, don’t you?”

“Yes, thanks. What about Pepeo, is he alright?” I asked. And I felt silly for trying to fool myself about the reason I had come back to Ms. Celia’s house. Obviously, I wasn’t there to say good-bye. I was there to see Pepeo again.

“He asked me today: where is Laura’s son?”

“Really?”

“I told you he had liked you.”

Ms. Celia went in and soon came back with the sweet. Once again, she sat down in her rocking chair, and while she told me something about the cashew harvest, the sound of her words meshed with the almost hypnotic noise of the chair. That’s when he came up at the door in his white attire, impeccable and silent like a cat.

“Look who’s here to see you, Pepeo.”

“Good afternoon, Pepeo. How are you?”

He didn’t answer. He remained still, leaning against the door, the frozen stare fixed on me. Ms. Celia made a gesture with her hand to convey that I shouldn’t mind him and began to talk about the weather, the cost of living, and local politics. She recollected the school times and noted that children today are more interested in computers than playing on the street. Then I heard the deep voice by my side:

“He wants more sweet.”

Pepeo had spoken!

“Do you want more?” asked Ms. Celia, rising from the chair. “Give it to me, I’ll get it.”

She took the bowl from my hands and went inside. And I looked at Pepeo, still surprised. He had spoken.

It was the first time I’d ever heard his voice. And he had spoken in such a natural manner, but there was also this powerful awareness in it… Indeed, I had finished my sweet and wanted more, but had been embarrassed to ask. And he had noticed it.

“Do you also like cashew sweet?” I asked, trying to be nice. He just kept staring at me in his absent way. I felt ridiculous trying to communicate with a loon and had a strong feeling that Pepeo disdained my sane, normal condition.

To my relief, Ms. Celia came back with more sweet and freed me from the awkwardness of making small talk with madness. We talked some more then I remembered what my mother had told me.

“Is it true that he finds lost objects?”

“Did you hear that, Pepeo?” she asked. “Edson wants to know if you can find things. Can you?”

Pepeo didn’t answer. He kept staring at me, silent and stubborn – and absent.

“Haven’t you lost something recently?” Ms. Celia asked me. Yes, I had lost my favorite pen, made of aluminum with my name engraved on it. I had lost it on the day prior, as soon as I arrived at Quixadá.

“Yes, I lost a pen.”

“Ask him to find it.”

“Can you find my pen, Pepeo?” I asked him. And I caught myself wishing hard that his answer would be affirmative.

In the ensuing silence, while we looked at each other and I longed for his positive answer, I felt a vertigo… And I suddenly remembered something that had happened in my childhood… I remembered a well in the neighbor’s backyard, an old well that supplied water. Children were forbidden to go near it. One day, I was so curious I couldn’t stand it anymore and secretly climbed on its edge. Instead of water, instead of my reflection, I saw a horrendous monster. I got so scared I lost my balance and fell into the well. Thank God I was quick and managed to hold on to the edge and hang from it while the monster at the bottom of the well waited for me to fall. With a lot of effort, I climbed the wall and got out of it. I came back running into the house frightened, my heart pumping hard. The experience was so traumatic that whenever I came near any well, I would feel this strong vertigo. I wouldn’t even think about looking into it.

The memory went away, the vertigo subsided slowly, and I felt a lot better. I was on Ms. Celia’s porch again now with my eyes locked into Pepeo’s absent gaze. I moved my body in the chair to shake off the rest of vertigo I still felt, unaware of how long I had been absorbed by the sudden recollection or if someone had noticed anything.

Pepeo moved and walked up to Ms. Celia. He bent forward and whispered something to her ear. Then he went back to his spot leaning against the door.

“Pepeo says he will find your pen if you bring him a chocolate.”

Give him a chocolate? What a childish thing, I thought, disappointed. And for an instant I had thought, almost believed that he actually possessed some magical power, that he could roam other worlds… But now I realized it was a little game between them, some kind of concession Ms. Celia made to the strange logic of madness.

Still bothered for being such a fool, I agreed to play the game. I stood up and went to the grocery store on the corner. I soon came back with the chocolate and handed it to him. But Pepeo didn’t take it and my arm was left stretched out in the air. Ms. Celia laughed, took the chocolate from my hand and gave it to him. I thought he would eat it on the spot, but he put it in his jacket pocket instead and whispered to Ms. Celia’s ear again.

“Now you wait, and the pen will turn up,” she said winking at me, as if we were playing with a child.

I looked at Pepeo and thought I might have detected the hint of a smile, an almost imperceptible glow of happiness in his face… that vanished without a trace one second later. Then we exchanged our good-byes and I left.

On my trip back to Fortaleza, my thoughts on Pepeo kept me company. He really had caused quite an impression on me. And struck me with something difficult to describe, an uneasy feeling combined with fear and… a certain excitement. Why?

While I was driving, I had other memories of my childhood… I remembered a time when I had free transit into other realities which I visited often. A time when I had friends whom grownups could not see and with whom I shared secrets. I remembered I had the power to be invisible and I did it whenever I wanted to steal candy from the store or when I wanted to stay in my cousin’s bedroom inconspicuously while she lay in her bed and touched herself as if she were alone. Those were days full of adventures. Everything was magical and fascinating. A magical time that had simply vanished from my memory but sprung back into my thoughts during those moments on the road like bubbles on the surface of boiling water.

Entering the city, deep in memories, I didn’t see a red light and drove straight through the crossing. I hit hard on the brakes, almost crashing against a truck. I was very close to causing a terrible accident. I could have died… I pulled over scared and at the same time thankful for my good luck. I thought I had better forget the past while I shifted into first gear and moved on. I had better come back to reality.

AVertigem-01On the following days, my mind remained focused on work related tasks that consumed my entire day and sometimes even the night, when I took my work home. On Wednesday, however, in my office at the company, I noticed the light of dusk that came through the window was reflecting on something on the shelf and I couldn’t ascertain what it was. I was intrigued, stood up and found out what was twinkling. It was a pen. An aluminum pen with my name engraved on it.

A chill ran down my spine. It was the pen I had lost! But I had lost it in Quixadá. How could it be there? Could Pepeo be… responsible for that?

No, of course not, I immediately told myself. I had certainly made some mistake. I certainly didn’t realize I had brought the pen with me from Quixadá then…

Then what? I put the pen on the shelf and didn’t remember that either? Of course I hadn’t done that. Then how could I explain it?

I had no answer. There was no explanation. For three days I had forgotten about Pepeo and now he suddenly came back into my life by way of this mystery. Was it really possible that he might have something to do with it?

The image of the old weirdo chased me around for the rest of the day. Those expressionless eyes that I knew were watching me carefully. And it made me torn. On the one hand, gentle breezes from another world blew through the person of Pepeo, breezes that caused me chills and brought me memories of a time of magic and enchantment. On the other hand, his eyes seemed to try to expose me as if I were guilty of something…

On the next Saturday, I went back to Quixadá. I had told the couple who were interested in buying the house that I would meet them again on Sunday, but I was so eager to see Pepeo that I couldn’t wait another day.

I arrived late in the afternoon and Ms. Celia welcomed me with her usual kindness. I told her I had found the pen.

“That’s nice,” she answered. “Pepeo will be glad to know.”

“Does he always do… these things?”

“What things?”

“Finding lost objects.”

She laughed.

“Do you believe that kind of thing?”

“Me? Well… I…”

I stopped talking, embarrassed like a boy caught doing something wrong. I simply could not answer. What did I believe? I didn’t know anymore.

“Young people don’t really care about those things, you know? It’s old people that still do.”

I smiled, ashamed. I saw my embarrassed self on the window glass next to me. I wondered which one I was: young people or old people?

“Is he home?”

“Pepeo? No. He went out for a walk with his little creatures.”

“Can he walk around alone?”

“Oh boy, Pepeo is smart,” she confirmed proudly. “He just won’t go out when his little creatures don’t want to go. In which case nothing in the world will get him out of the house. Don’t you want to sit down a little? I have ice cold cajá juice, I’m going to get it for you.”

“No, thanks, Ms. Celia,” I refused. “But I need to talk to Pepeo.”

“Then go that way over there, you can still reach him.”

I ran on the street until I saw the tall, slender figure with his white suit and white hat walking slowly, seeming to have not a single care in the world. Anyone who saw him would not distinguish him from any regular senior who goes to the town square in the late afternoon.

I slowed down on my feet and got closer. My heart was racing and my back was all wet from sweating. I stretched my arm in his direction and, before I got to touch him, I heard his voice:

“Did you find the pen?”

Pepeo was still walking, looking ahead. For a moment, I thought he had talked to himself.

“Yes… I did. I came here to thank you.”

Then I approached him by the side and walked along his slow step on the sidewalk. I asked him how he had made me find the pen, but had no answer. I began to feel the pressure of being ridiculous. I tried to invite more conversation, but he kept the same attitude, quiet and looking ahead or, I don’t know, looking at nowhere.

When we got to the town square, my initial enthusiasm had faded away from all the embarrassment, and once again I felt like I was being a fool for thinking that I could tame madness. Then I ran out of things to talk about and said something about Milena, my ex-girlfriend from when I was a teenager, and I asked him if he knew her.

Again. The shade of a smile came across his face, fleetingly, almost nothing. But I saw it. Yes, I did. I asked him again if he knew Milena.

“You want to meet the young lady, don’t you?”

My heart jumped. Then I thought that not letting the conversation die out mattered more than anything else. I quickly said “yes” and asked him if he could help me.

“Bring me a chocolate, will you?”

A chocolate. What did he mean by that? What would make me find the young woman in the same way had I found my pen? I didn’t want to risk losing the opportunity so I ran up to a newsstand where I bought a small bar of chocolate and brought it to him.

“You really like chocolate, don’t you, Pepeo?”

He was still putting the bar in the inside pocket of his jacket when he looked at me and… smiled! He actually smiled. Well, it was a brief smile, just for a second and obscured by his rigid mouth, but he certainly smiled. And he said:

“It’s not for me, it’s for the little creatures. You may go now. Go.”

“Where, Pepeo?”

“Come on, go.”

He seemed to be in a hurry. But I didn’t know what to do.

“Go, go,” he insisted, pushing me gently. I looked at him and I really didn’t know what to do. Should I go back to Fortaleza? Would I find Milena there?

“Go now.”

All I could do was comply. I crossed the street and looked at him, and he kept signaling that I should go, go, go…

Suddenly, a woman materialized right in my path, almost running into me. We both stopped, startled.

“I can’t believe it…” she said, surprised. “Edson?!”

“Milena?” I mumbled, even more surprised than she was.

“Are you lost here in Quixadá?”

“I… ahnn…”

I was absolutely confused to the bone. Had that meeting been arranged by Pepeo? No, it wasn’t possible, it couldn’t be. But how could it not be? Of course it was, it had to be. It had to be. I quickly turned around towards the square, but Pepeo wasn’t there anymore.

“I… am taking care of things.”

Milena was different, no longer the girl I remembered, obviously. But she was still beautiful.

“What a coincidence, Edson. I never come this way. But today, God knows why, I chose to.”

We were staring at each other among the people passing by, not knowing what to say. She finally broke the silence and asked if I was alone.

“Me? Yes, I am.”

“Do you want to go out tonight? There is this new bar, it’s quite nice.”

She gave me her telephone number, pecked me on the face and resumed her path. I crossed the street and saw Pepeo on his way home. I ran up to him.

“You made us run into each other, didn’t you?”

He didn’t answer. He didn’t even look at me.

“Please, Pepeo,” I begged. “I need to know.”

Nothing. He remained silent, walking slowly. I stood there on the sidewalk, my heart pounding like a pile driver, almost giving me a stroke. The color gradient in the afternoon sky heralded the sunset, when the afternoon makes way for the evening. A breeze blew and caused goosebumps on my arm.

Later at the bar, I wanted to tell Milena what had happened. But I thought I had better not. How could I tell her that an old nutjob had pulled some strings in the afterworld to make us run into each other on that street in return for a chocolate? How could I explain what I had felt, all the confusion in my head? How could I tell her that another world had been brought back, the magical world of my childhood?

I thought I should stop thinking about that all the time so I talked about many things and we laughed a lot about the old times, reminiscing our dating when we were teens. She told me about her failed marriage and I told her about my life in Fortaleza. She asked me if I was single and I confirmed it. Closing the evening, I dropped her home and we shared a long kiss. A very sweet kiss in fact, which reminded me of an old, cherished feeling: Milena in my arms, we both sitting on the bench in her house garden, promising each other all the stars in the vast sky of Quixadá.

On that night, it took me a long time to sleep. I was absolutely torn. Part of me was ardently willing to believe that Pepeo really had magical powers, that maybe there was more about the world than meets the eye, that maybe there were things beyond common comprehension. Maybe the lunatics had answers. Maybe it was time I looked for them elsewhere than in the cold numbers of financial reports.

Another part of me, however, shook my head disappointed at my own tomfoolery. The real world was not there in that small town in the countryside, and I knew it. Neither was it in the past, among fabrications of a child’s inventiveness. Reality was on the other end of the road, where I would go on the following day.

AVertigem-01I didn’t hear the alarm clock in the morning. When I woke up, it was 2PM already. I was very late for the appointment with the couple who wanted to buy the house. I got dressed in haste and drove to the restaurant where we were supposed to meet up. Fortunately, they still waited for me. I apologized, we had lunch and could finally discuss the final details of the deal.

Back to the hotel, the young man at the reception told me that someone had been waiting for me and pointed to the couch. I turned around certain that I would see Milena. But I saw an old man in a white suit and hat.

I walked up to him. Before I could even say anything, he stood up calmly and left the hotel. I followed him to the street and we walked side by side in silence. He wanted to take a walk with me, I thought, like two friends in a late afternoon. But I was eager to talk about the day before and about the little creatures…

We arrived at Cruzeiro Rock, a rocky formation visited by many tourists in search of a panoramic view of the town. When I was a child, I loved climbing to the top of it, more than three hundred feet high, and be entertained for centuries by the landscape. Pepeo stopped, looked up, adjusted the hat on his head and began to climb through one of the trails. I wanted to protest, I really wasn’t in the mood for getting tired, but didn’t dare say anything. I just followed him.

Pepeo climbed the hill with amazing agility, not taking one single wrong step. I did just the opposite. I slipped many times and was ready to quit. Fortunately, he stopped before we reached the top so I caught up with him soon after and sat on a rock to rest. I hadn’t noticed the landscape until then. The better part of the city was exposed to us from that vantage point. Far beyond, behind the pile of rock that surrounded it, the sunset painted the sky with tons of red, yellow and orange. I had forgotten how magnificent the view was. While the clouds slowly drew patterns and the sky changed color, I felt as if I had been removed from time…

“You’re going to keep them when I’m gone, aren’t you?”

Pepeo’s voice…

“Who are they?” I asked while my gaze surveyed the horizon.

“The little creatures. Look, you can’t be late, you must come on the same day they summon you.”

The little creatures, of course. For an instant–or maybe centuries–I had forgotten about them.

“What are those little creatures, Pepeo?” I asked, looking at him. Pepeo stood by my side, also looking at the horizon.

“I was put in charge of them a long time ago. One of them is the picker creature. It likes to hide and find things, very mischievous.”

“What about the other?”

“It’s the matcher creature. It likes to play with people, makes them get lost and run into each other. They are tiny, but they climb up on everything. And they love chocolate.”

Picker creature and matcher creature. One could find objects and the other could make people meet… That was absolutely incredible. I stood there in the same position sitting on the rock, staring into the distance, beyond the realms of time…

“It was the matcher creature that made your mother marry your father, do you know that?”

“What do you mean?”

“Your father was all about partying when he was young. He had no interest in commitment. So the creature arranged it for him to run into her on the street seven days in a row in seven different places.”

I smiled, stunned. That was news to me.

“And who gave you the little creatures for you to look after, Pepeo?”

“I can’t say. You won’t be allowed to say who passed them on to you either. And they will be with you until your day comes, you hear me? When you’re gone, they’ll tuck themselves back into their little house and they won’t leave it until they’re in the hands of their new master. And it can’t be a woman.”

“They don’t like women?”

“A woman would use them to harm another. And they just want to play, pull pranks on people.”

“Can other people see the little creatures?”

“No. They’re always hiding behind things.”

Pepeo’s voice was coming slowly into my ears and merging with the landscape. Suddenly, all the things were one. The sunset, the rocks, the red sky and Pepeo’s words. The past and the present were finally united. Everything made sense.

“One more thing,” he continued. “The little creatures don’t like cats and priests.”

“Why is that?”

“Cats can see them and they don’t like it. And priests make them sad.”

“And do they talk to you?”

“I know what they think. In time, you will know it, too.”

“And why did you choose me of all people?”

“They choose. When you arrived, they warned me.”

“What if, by chance, I am not fit for the job?”

“When they no longer have a master, everything will stop.”

“What do you mean?”

He didn’t answer.

“What do you mean, everything is going to stop, Pepeo?”

I turned around and saw he was climbing down the rock already and my question was swept away by the wind.

We came back in complete silence. At the foot of the hill, Pepeo went into a street without looking back and I went into another, back to the hotel. I felt peace like I had finally found something I had been looking for without knowing what it was.

AVertigem-01On Monday morning, I called my mother from the office and told her about the pen, how I had met Milena and what Pepeo had told me about her and Dad. She laughed and said it was true, yes. One day, when she was single, she had looked for a man who lived in the woods. He was some sort of hermit and was supposed to have magical powers. She visited him and found him a strange but kind old man. She asked him if he could make my father fall in love with her. The old man said he couldn’t do that, but he would do something close to it.

“He really did,” continued my mother with a jolly laughter. “He made your father run into me several days in a row. He was so intrigued he felt really compelled to pay attention to me. I told your father after we were married, but you know he won’t believe those things.”

“And did you pay for the service?”

“I gave him a chocolate. That’s what Pepeo had asked me in return. It was a bargain.”

What about the little creatures? I wondered what they looked like. All chubby from eating so much chocolate? Maybe not. Pepeo had said they were agile. Could they be carried in the pocket? What was their little house like? I thought about the little creatures and kept coming up with new uses such as finding lost documents, arranging providential chance meetings, checking if someone really was where they were supposed to be…

And their fear of cats, how strange… So cats really could see things? What about priests? I assumed the little creatures didn’t like them because the Catholic Church had a well known history of persecuting other beliefs. Maybe the little creatures had traumatic memories of other times, of cruel persecutions?

Pepeo had said that everything would stop when the little creatures didn’t have a master anymore. What could that mean? A prophecy about the end of the world? He also had said I wouldn’t have them until he was gone. Well, judging by Pepeo’s good health, such day wouldn’t come soon and that was great because I wanted to learn everything I could about the other world.

“Everything, everything,” I told myself. And I laughed like a happy child.

I wasn’t torn anymore. Pepeo was real, the little creatures were real. The magical world was back.

Before leaving for lunch, I called the couple who was supposed to buy the house. Without much clarification, I told them the deal was canceled and I would get back to them in case there were any other changes. I hung up the phone and stretched my legs, relaxed and relieved. Suddenly, selling the house didn’t make sense anymore. Maybe it wasn’t a bad idea to keep it rented out. Maybe, who knows, one day I might not like the capital anymore and decide to live in Quixadá. Yes, why not? I might as well forget that whole stock market business and lead a calmer life, not so worried about profits. Maybe with Milena. Why not?

Then the secretary woke me up from my daydreaming, saying there was a phone call for me. I answered. It was Ms. Celia. She was calling me to let me know that Pepeo had died the night prior. She said he had been feeling well, he had enjoyed his late afternoon walk and had had dinner as usual. He had died while sleeping. The funeral would be in the afternoon.

It took me a few minutes before I could react at all. Pepeo was dead… It didn’t seem real. It couldn’t be real, he had so much to teach me…

I canceled my afternoon appointments, got in the car and drove off to Quixadá. I drove at high speed, but when I arrived at the cemetery, the casket had already been lowered into the grave and two men were covering it with dirt. Few people were present, just Ms. Celia and relatives. I was devastated. I wanted to see Pepeo one last time.

“He liked you,” said Ms. Celia, wiping a tear.

“Me, too.”

“I think Pepeo sensed he was going to die because he asked me to give you something yesterday, before he went to bed.”

Ms. Celia opened her purse, took a tiny wooden chest out of it and gave it to me.

“He used to keep it very carefully, since when he still lived in Caiçarinha.”

I held the tiny chest with both hands, feeling its weight.

“It seems there is something inside, but I don’t know what it is. Pepeo told me to give it to you without opening it.”

“Thank you.”

“Now let’s go home and have some coffee. Come with us.”

“I’m afraid I can’t, Ms. Celia. I have to go back to Fortaleza now.”

We said good-bye and I left. A few minutes later, I was on the road, heading back to the capital. While I drove, I was overpowered by a mixture of sadness, excitement and fear, constantly looking at the tiny wooden chest on the passenger seat out of the corner of my eye.

When I got home, I put the little chest on the bed and sat next to it. My hands were trembling and my heart was beating out of rhythm. A drop of sweat ran down my face. Outside, the afternoon was coming to an end and I could see through the window the sky getting dark, heralding the evening in the big city, so different from the evenings of the countryside. Inside the small chest was proof of the existence of the other world, the magical world that had always existed but I had chosen to forget one day. I just had to open it and free the little creatures.

I picked up the little chest and began to open the lid very slowly. Suddenly, for an instant, I had flashes of that terrible well in my childhood… And I immediately felt the vertigo getting a hold of me. Again, the same vertigo. I cut my motion short, lowered the lid and took a deep breath. I told myself that everything was alright while I waited for the vertigo to go away. Some minutes later, I was getting ready to open it again when a question came up in my mind. What if… there was nothing inside?

At nightfall, the night and its darkness, I was still there sitting on the bed beside the little chest. And I couldn’t get that question out of my mind. What if there was nothing inside?

It was late night now, the quiet late night, and I was still in the same position. The doubt wouldn’t let me sleep. I hadn’t slept and I hadn’t had the courage to open the little chest.

When the day broke, I put it in a drawer in the cabinet and left for work. I tried hard to focus on my job, but I couldn’t. When I got back home, the first thing I did was to take the little chest out of the drawer. I put it on the bed again and swore to myself I would open it this time. I had to open it and put an end to that torture. Yes, I had to do it. But… what if there was nothing inside?

It’s the question I still ask myself fifty years later, when it’s late in the afternoon and I take the little chest out of the same drawer and I sit on the same bed in the same apartment, everything the same. What if there is nothing inside?

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Ricardo Kelmer – blogdokelmer.com

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(script for a movie soon)

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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.

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> Amazon (kindle) english/portuguese

> In portuguese – blog 

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The blue light cylinder

25/03/2020

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)

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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.

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> Amazon (kindle) english/portuguese

> In portuguese – blog 

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When men don’t come back home

25/03/2020

QuandoOsHomensNaoVoltamParaCasa-1

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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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WHEN MEN DON´T COME BACK HOME

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QuandoOsHomensNaoVoltamParaCasa-1Hi, Lu… Please read the letter carefully. You are the only person I trust. I want you to know that in spite of it all, I still love you. Kisses. Marc.

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Luciane felt intrigued when she read the note. She hadn’t heard from her boyfriend for a week. People in his job had told her he hadn’t shown up in the last three days. The doormen at the building knew nothing of his whereabouts and he wouldn’t answer the phone. She initially thought Marc had been upset by their recent argument and decided to go on a break. But his disappearance didn’t really make sense.

She decided to talk to him face to face. She entered the apartment with her own copy of the key. She saw nothing unusual, everything seemed normal. She found the note on the bed, next to the painting he liked so much, the princess sitting on a bench at the edge of a forest. The same painting that had been the reason of their fateful argument. She had never been able to understand what was so special about that painting, but Marc had great admiration for it and she simply could not grasp it. She put the note aside and read the letter.

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The margin of a lake, a small anchorage and a moored boat. A path that begins at the anchorage and leads into the forest, among the trees. At the very beginning of the path into the forest, a wooden bench and a very beautiful princess in medieval attire looking sad while staring at the path’s curve as if waiting for someone who will suddenly come out of the woods…

I found the painting in a thrift store and I liked it immediately. The princess seemed so sweet and loving to me… And I felt this familiarity as if I knew her from some other place, some other time. I bought the painting and hung it on the wall of the living room. You must remember that day: I showed it to you, you saw it and laughed, and said I had always had a thing for princesses and that if I ever met one, I wouldn’t think twice to leave you for her. Remember?

First, I hung it on the corridor so I could look at it every time I walked by. Then I brought it to the bedroom and hung it next to the bed so I could fall asleep looking at it. Many times I tried to tell you how fascinated I was by that painting. But you just mocked me for everything I said.

I was convinced that the princess was stuck in the forest. She was dejected and spent her days alone, weeping from the sorrow of being away from her country. But there was a subtle sparkle of hope in her eyes: she awaited the arrival of a knight who would set her free. He would come from the forest, around the curve of the path. He would take her by the hand and they would climb into the boat that would transport them to the princess’ country. Until then, she waited and sang a melancholic song that traveled through the forest and one day would be heard by her savior.

At night, I would caress the painting as if that could mitigate the princess’ grief. I would remove the glass, stroke the paper with my fingertips and almost feel the relief of the trees, the lake water, her skin, her hair…

Then one night, I had a dream. I was in the forest and walked the path among the trees. I was looking for the princess and had to find her before dusk. And there was only one way to do that: following her song. But it was very windy and her voice was swept away by the wind gusts. I tried many paths, I knew that she was near, I could feel her presence… but I could not find her. It was getting dark and I was afraid of getting lost in the forest. I was very sorry for not finding her, but I came back.

I woke up in the middle of the night weeping. The dream was still present in the bedroom and I could feel the wind and hear the echoes of the grievous song. I had been so close… She was there somewhere… and I had failed to find her. I wasn’t worthy of being her knight and that was the most painful thing to me.

On the next day, I skipped work, impressed by the intensity of the dream. I told you about that, remember? For the first time you listened to me carefully then you told me I was exaggerating and I was going to be insane if I didn’t change my behavior. You picked the painting up and left, saying it was in bad taste and you were going to throw it away.

I ran after you to the living room. I reached out and took the painting away from your hands, but it slipped and fell and shattered on the floor. When I saw the shattered glass, I was very upset and felt great pain in my heart. I tried to pick up the pieces. You crouched to help me and apologized. But I pushed you away in anger and told you I didn’t need your help. You were scared and stared at me. You certainly thought I wasn’t very mentally sane or perhaps you had for the first time a glimpse of how much that painting mattered to me. I don’t know. We haven’t spoken since then. You slammed the door hard and went away.

On the next day, I made up another excuse and skipped work again. I wouldn’t have any focus anyway. At night, I had the second dream. I was back in the forest and I could hear the princess’ song gliding in the wind. She was closer now than on the previous night… I wanted to go ahead, but it was dark already and I was afraid of being stranded in the forest forever. Torn by the dilemma, I decided to return, feeling devastated for abandoning the princess once again.

Once again, I woke up soon, so disheartened I was sighing. For a brief moment, it seemed the bedroom was the forest. It seemed so real I could almost touch the leaves on the ground. I swiftly held the painting to my chest as if holding someone whom I loved so dearly I wanted to bring them inside me. I pressed the princess against my chest and hoped hard the dream wouldn’t end. And it worked for a while. I touched a branch then I held it… But soon the forest was gone and I was back in my bedroom, just me and my deep sadness. Then I told the princess that she had to be strong and wait just a little more because I would find her soon. And that was the last thing I thought before I fell asleep, hopeful that my sleep would transport me back to the forest.

But I didn’t go back. I woke up in the morning feeling so disappointed I didn’t want to eat. I didn’t go to work. How could I work knowing she was still there, all alone in that forest?

I really couldn’t think about anything else so I went out for a walk. When I looked at the lake in the park, I heard the princess’ voice. It was far away, I could barely hear it. But yes, it was her. I was ecstatic! That was a sign. So I went back home convinced that I would meet her at night.

It’s very late at night and I can’t sleep. I should be with the princess soon. And I will take her back to her country. Don’t worry about me. I’ll be back.

Marc

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Luciane kept staring at the paper. She tried to organize her thoughts, but her mind was a whirlpool of questions going round and round continuously. What in the world was going on?

As a matter of fact, she didn’t care at first. But Marc’s interest in the painting did catch her attention eventually. But she hadn’t gone as far as thinking that the situation would ever come to this. She remembered he had been quiet and pensive lately, posing questions and sharing philosophical musings about life. Maybe she should have been more tactful and tried to understand what was going on. He said he needed to spend more time alone and she thought that maybe he didn’t want her anymore. Or maybe it was nothing like that. Maybe he still loved her indeed.

Those days away from him had been spent on rethinking some ideas. Maybe she would apologize and try to be more understanding. After all, she loved him very much and couldn’t even think about living without him. Of course he had his share of flaws, but her utmost concern was not to lose him. Nothing was more important than that now. And that is why she’d decided to go after him.

But now, that letter… “What if it were just a prank?” she thought, suddenly angry. Yes, Marc would be one to do something like that. She was worried sick while he was somewhere out there just laughing about it. Yes, he must have been up to something and she was being treated like a fool, wasting her time on the vagaries of a guy who thought of himself as a valiant knight involved with a marriageable princess. He had met another woman and come up with that silly story, she could see it now. Now he would have to go after her to explain the situation. She had more important things to do.

So she slammed the door and left.

*     *     *

QuandoOsHomensNaoVoltamParaCasa-1He didn’t go after her, though. Days went by and his silence made her nervous. She missed him. And she was very worried. That letter didn’t make sense. And there was still the issue of his job: he had been absent for a week, his work mates were worried, too.

She went back to the apartment three days later. She had absolutely decided to call the police. She went into the bedroom and picked up the painting that lay on the bed. Then she saw something so strange she had to cover her mouth to suppress a scream. In the painting, on the exact spot on the curve of the path into the forest, there was a new figure, someone who had not been there the last time. She looked more carefully and realized… it was Marc.

Luciane dropped the painting on the bed. A cold chill ran up her spine. She looked at the painting again. There was indeed a new detail in the picture, someone coming out of the forest and walking towards the princess. The image wasn’t very clear, but it certainly was a person. And it seemed to be Marc’s face. The same shape, hair, eyes… Or maybe that person had always been there. No, that was impossible.

Luciane closed her eyes and said to herself, mentally: Marc is inside this painting. While she resisted the idea, she felt attracted to the thought at the same time. Marc was in that painting. She could feel it. And the longer she let herself get involved by the idea, the more absurd it became.

She looked at it again. What if there were two paintings? Replacing the first painting with that one might just as well have been part of Marc’s prank. But no, no… Why would he ever go to such lengths, why? That didn’t make sense.

She decided to sleep in the apartment. She was afraid, but she felt she had better discard the idea that her boyfriend was pulling a prank, that he had always been the kind not to miss a joke. While she slept there, maybe she would catch him coming in to replace the painting again. She had to try it.

She was so anxious she could not sleep. She got up as soon as the morning broke. The first thing she did was to pick up the painting. There was the same person coming along the path, but the image was clearer now. She had no doubt about it: it really was Marc. And he was very close to the princess, almost touching her.

Luciane stared at the painting in awe. She could see more of the figure’s features now, as if someone had altered the painting. There was no mistake: that was indeed her boyfriend… dressed like a medieval knight.

“Marc…” she whispered, caressing the painting. “Marc, are you there?”

She suddenly realized what she was doing and began to cry. She cried for the boyfriend whose whereabouts were unknown and because she might be the victim of a bizarre prank. And she cried especially for fear that all of those strange events might actually be true.

*     *     *

QuandoOsHomensNaoVoltamParaCasa-1The young lady behind the counter raised her eyes off the book she was reading and looked at Luciane.

“Good morning. My boyfriend bought this painting here last month.” Luciane took the painting from her backpack. “Did you sell it to him?”

“Yes, I did. I remember it. Is it damaged?”

“No, that’s not the problem. I mean… Well… Do you remember if the painting had this one detail here, this knight?”

“What do you mean?”

“Try to remember, it’s important.”

“I don’t see anything wrong with it.”

Luciane sighed. That wasn’t going to be easy.

“Miss, I know you’re not going to believe it, but… Look, I have compelling reasons to believe that my boyfriend… fell inside this painting.” There, she’d said it. She really had. “He is this knight who is coming along the path…”

The clerk looked at the painting then looked at Luciane. She saw the tired, anguished look on Luciane’s face.

“Your boyfriend… fell inside the painting?”

Luciane felt like crying again. She put herself together and tried to speak, but she couldn’t. She felt absolutely ridiculous. The clerk kept staring at her. The entire situation was absurd, surreal. She realized it was futile, that she looked like she was out of her mind.

“Forget about it,” she said and put the painting back into the backpack. “I should not have come here.”

She was just about to leave the store when a man came out of the adjacent room.

“Please don’t go.”

Luciane turned around and saw a short, dark, pot-bellied type. He wore jeans, tennis shoes and a large shirt hanging out over his waistline. He looked fifty years old. He had an intense but friendly stare.

“I would like to listen to your story if you don’t mind.”

*     *     *

QuandoOsHomensNaoVoltamParaCasa-1The small room had soft lighting that shone through the stained glass of the window. The air had a mild scent of incense. There were antique objects such as chests, candlesticks and statuettes, many books in a wooden shelf and beautiful paintings on the walls.

Luciane sat on a chair that seemed to be five hundred years old. She observed the man who was sitting across the table. He had feminine manners, a Spanish accent, black eyes and a gentle stare. His head was bald on the front, but a long braid on the back rested upon his back. An exotic figure.

The clerk came into the room carrying a tray.

“Lemongrass tea, my dear,” said the man. “It’s good for your nerves. Thank you, Daphne. You may leave us alone now, will you? I won’t see anyone else.”

“Ms. Bernadette has an appointment at six, Mr. Javier.”

“Cancel it, woman. Tell her my grandma had her period, I ran to her rescue, and have a nice day.”

Luciane laughed. Exotic and funny.

“Daphne started this month, she is still learning how things work around here. I have this thrift shop, my angel, but I also read the tarot. And I take care of other issues. Have you never heard about Javier’s tarot?”

Javier’s tarot… What kind of place was that?

“You must be wondering where the hell you’ve brought yourself into, oh my god, aren’t you? But don’t you worry, you’ve come to the right place, I am going to help you. Come on, tell me all about that story.”

Luciane assessed the situation. She was sure he was the biggest con artist in the area. That Spanish accent of his surely was part of the scam. The very long braid on his back, the effeminate manners… Maybe he was not even gay, it was all part of the show. Where was the white tunic, why didn’t he wear one? He certainly wanted to avoid the stereotype. People like him sure knew their game. Well, she had nothing to lose from telling him. To whom else could she ever talk about that anyway?

So she told him that Marc had bought the painting in that store and become overly attached to it. She told him about the crisis in their relationship, their argument over the painting and that they hadn’t spoken to each other for a few days. Javier listened carefully.

“One week later, he wouldn’t answer the phone, so I went there and I just found this painting. I went back there on the next day and Marc began to be part of the landscape, dressed as a knight…” she said with an embarrassed smile, nervous and expecting Javier to smile back. But he kept staring at her very seriously. “And here I am.”

She didn’t mention the letter. It was deliberate. She wanted to test the man’s abilities.

“What do you think might have happened?” he asked.

Luciane calculated that he wanted to know what her own expectation was. Once he knew it, he would play the game accordingly. Conniving people.

“Honestly, I really don’t know.”

Javier asked to see the painting. She took it out of the backpack and handed it over to him.

“Hmmm, good taste in men.”

He held the painting with both hands and closed his eyes. He remained in that position for some time, head tilted backwards in a slow, circle-like movement, breathing deeply. She watched his movements carefully. She wanted to laugh, but restrained herself. When everything was finally explained, Marc would have to pay for that whole ridiculous situation. Oh, yes, he would, the jerk.

Javier opened his eyes.

“This is some heavy stuff, my angel.”

“What?”

“Listen, I couldn’t quite see the details, but that’s some pretty strong spell that was cast on your boyfriend.”

“A woman?”

“A woman. But I couldn’t see who it was.”

“What do you know, I never realized I had a rival…” she said, sarcastically. And she couldn’t avoid thinking of a few female friends, certain work mates from his office… But no, that whole stuff was predictable. The charlatan now was ready to tell her that he could reverse the spell and how much it would cost her, but he liked her so he would make it at a nice price…

“This woman is powerful.”

“Do I know her?”

“Maybe. But he’s known her for a long time.”

“And what is going to happen?”

“Looks like he is bewitched. As if he had been lured by her.”

Luciane remembered the princess’ sad song…

“She must have lured your boyfriend with this painting. He came here, he bought it, and took it home. Bam! He walked right into the trap.”

“But where is he now?”

“The painting is showing it, my love. The princess represents the woman who cast a spell on him. He has joined her already.”

“Are you telling me that rascal is going around cheating on me?” she said with a smile, trying to look like it didn’t bother her. But then she found herself furious at the hypothesis. Maybe that little cousin of his who would sometimes come to the city…

“In other words… it’s exactly that.”

“But what goddamn woman would make a man leave his home and job behind and disappear without ever telling anybody?”

“Heavy stuff, my angel, I told you. Don’t you believe in witches?”

“No.”

“But they do exist.”

He could only be making all that stuff up. But how else could she explain the change in the painting?

“Of course, you’re free not to believe any of these things I’m telling you, my dear. But as it turns out, while you’re skeptical, your rival is making headway.”

He put the painting on the table.

“Javier, I’m not the most skeptical person in the world, I can tell you that. But you have to agree with me that this whole story is rather absurd.”

“If it’s absurd, what are you doing here?”

His voice turned to a more serious tone. His stare was grave now.

“Very well. Let’s say I believe you. Now what?”

“Now you write me a check for a thousand bucks, and we can begin. My price is usually two thousand. But I really like your eyes…”

“A thousand?! No way.”

“If you think your boyfriend is not worth that much…”

“Maybe he isn’t. What if I don’t have all that money?”

“Can’t you get it somehow?”

“What if I can? How can I be sure it is going to work?”

He leaned forward and his stare changed once again. It became more gentle and alluring. And she could feel it like smooth waves… they rocked back and forth inside her own eyes…

“It is going to work, my angel.”

“What if it doesn’t?” The waves rocked back and forth, back and forth… a nice rocking motion… intoxicating… sleepy… “Will you give my money back?”

“I never fail, my dear.”

For a brief moment, she almost let herself go along with the back and forth motion… But her strong will suddenly rose, shook up her thoughts and brought her back down to reality. The sleepiness went away.

“That is no guarantee, Javier, and you know it.”

He leaned back in his chair. He laid his elbows on the armrests, brought his hands together on the stomach and locked his fingers. He stared at her gravely for a few seconds. There were no waves coming from his eyes anymore.

“And you tell me you don’t believe in witches…”

“What?”

She thought for a second that he might be trying to hypnotize her.

“How old are you, Luciane?”

“Twenty-seven.”

“You’re young. You could be a great witch if you wanted. There are lots of people out there who could use your services. You have the type, you’re strong… But not with those shoulder pads, my angel. Please. They don’t become you at all. If you’d like, I can be your fashion designer, you give me ten per cent of your profit, what do you think? Fashion designer for a witch. Fancy.”

“I just want my boyfriend back.”

“I’ve seen very few women with your strength. And I’ve been in many places.”

“Are you the type who takes advantage of desperate people, Javier?”

“I only charge those who can afford it.”

“Whether I can or not doesn’t matter. I am discussing the guarantees of your service.”

He smiled.

“You win, sorcière. You don’t have to pay anything now. But if you get your boyfriend back, I want fifteen hundred.”

“Twelve hundred.”

“Thirteen hundred. Take it or leave it.”

Luciane felt ridiculous. That couldn’t be happening. She was haggling with a charlatan to recover her beloved man…

“Deal.”

“Wise decision,” he said and rose from the chair, pointing to the painting. “I’m going in today. And I’ll bring him back.”

“You’re going into the painting?”

“I’ve gone into many. Your boyfriend is not the first to fall prey to this trick. But let’s cut to the chase.” He walked to the door. “Bring the painting.”

“Where are we going?”

“To the crime scene, of course.” He opened the door and left. She went after him. “The energy of the spell must be still there. I’ll have to sleep one night in your boyfriend’s apartment. Daphne, I’m leaving early, you may close. See you tomorrow.” He turned to Luciane and said softly, “You really should reconsider becoming a witch…”

“I’m not interested.”

“What a waste, my angel Mikael, what a waste…”

*     *     *

QuandoOsHomensNaoVoltamParaCasa-1It was eight o’clock when they arrived at the apartment. Javier went into the bedroom and repeated the procedure he had followed at the store: he closed his eyes and jiggled his head focusing on something. Luciane watched from the door. The bedroom gave her chills. For a brief moment, she still thought about giving up. But it was too late for that now.

“The portal is right here, in this bedroom,” said Javier after opening his eyes. “Listen, I’m going to need thirteen white candles. Brand new ones, you hear me? The supermarket is still open. I’m going to sleep in the bedroom, you sleep in the living room. You can eat something if you want, I’m going to sleep on empty stomach.”

“What about the painting?”

“It stays with me for the night. Don’t worry, I’m going to find your boyfriend and he will come back to you, charming and handsome.”

Half an hour later, Javier went to the bathroom and changed his clothes. He said good-bye to her and went to the bedroom carrying the painting and the candles.

Luciane laid on the couch in the living room and remained alert. But she couldn’t hear any sound from the bedroom. What was going to happen? She was exhausted and sleepy, her eyes felt heavy. Maybe the neighbor downstairs, maybe… The jerk definitely might fall for that cheap kind. Or the cashier lady at the drugstore…

*     *     *

QuandoOsHomensNaoVoltamParaCasa-1The noise of the traffic, the honking, buses passing by… Luciane woke up scared while the brightness of the morning came in through a narrow opening of the window. It was nine o’clock. She had slept soundly after several days of bad sleep. She rose from the couch and ran to the bedroom. She opened the door and saw nobody. The melted candles were on the floor. The painting was on the bed. She approached it and saw Marc. He was sitting on the bench next to the princess, holding her hands.

“Good morning, princess…”

She was so startled she tripped over her own legs and fell and let out a scream.

“My holy Saint Sebastian, what is happening here, girl?” Javier was at the bedroom door wiping his face with a towel. “Geez Louise… And people think homos overreact.”

“Where is Marc? What happened?”

“First of all, calm down. The world is going to end, but not today. If anything has ended, it’s the toilet paper in the bathroom. You had better take care of that.”

“I’m calm already,” she said while standing up.

“Let’s have breakfast, I have something very important to tell you.”

*     *     *

“I was wrong. This is not the work of people of this world.”

Sitting at the kitchen table, Javier had a grave expression.

“It isn’t?”

“I had actually suspected that when we were at the store.”

“Suspected what?”

“The lost princess. I had heard stories about those spells, but never come across one. This is my very first time.”

“I still don’t understand,” Luciane said, pouring two cups of coffee.

“Thank you. Well, the lost princess is a very beautiful princess, the most beautiful woman that has ever existed. And I know a lot about beauty. In fact, I was a juror in a pageant, did you know that?”

Luciane remained serious.

“She is from a very distant kingdom beyond the lake. A kingdom out of time. And only a fearless knight can help her get back home.”

She laughed.

“Marc, a fearless knight?! You have to be kidding… That gutless goon is terrified of heights.”

“The princess did not underestimate him.”

Luciane became serious again, remembering the letter. She felt it would be useless to think in logical terms. She had behaved so far as if she were on the borderline of two realities and choosing neither. Maybe it was time she made up her mind.

“This lost princess, does she really exist?”

“Yes. But only for men.”

“And why the hell is she doing this to him?”

“First, because she needs to go back home like I told you. Also because your boyfriend fell in love with her.”

“But he loves me.”

“This has nothing to do with you two, my dear. It’s a men’s thing.”

“That dog…”

“This is not a good time for fighting. And I am no therapist.”

“Frankly, things don’t get any worse than this. To be traded for a watercolor princess…”

“She is just as real as you are, dear. Except she lives in his world, understand?”

“Men are pigs!” Luciane was still angry. “They’re helpless, they can’t see a tushy come across their path… Especially a princess’ tushy!”

“I can’t believe you’re jealous.”

“Jealous? Don’t be ridiculous, Javier…”

“The cure for jealousy is psalm 115, you hear me? Seven times a day during seven days. Facing the direction of the church of Ephesus.”

She swallowed hard at his teasing. She was very angry and could not hide it. If Marc was not happy with her, then why didn’t he talk to her about it? He didn’t. He just went after the first woman who came across his path. A watercolor woman from another world, how pathetic.

“They say the princess has an incredibly beautiful voice. She sings and lures men like the mermaids.”

“So she is a princess and a singer. Just my luck.”

“But there is a way to make her stop singing.”

“What is it?”

“Meeting her in person. Exactly what he did.”

“Then call him back, Javier.”

“Tuh-tuh. It’s not the right time.”

“Why not?”

“When it’s time for the man to meet this woman, you should not stand in his way.”

“Why not?”

“It’s an old law of the world of magic, my love. I didn’t invent it.”

“Laws exist to be broken.”

“That is one law I will not break, sugar, not a chance, look at my finger…”

“What do we do then?”

“In this case, nothing.”

“Great. And how long is he going to be there?”

“I don’t know. But he’s going to try to take her back to her kingdom.”

“Is there any sex involved in that story?” Luciane asked, seriously.

Javier laughed.

“I’m serious, Javier.”

“That is going to depend on him.”

“Then it must be happening already.” She stood up angrily.

“Sounds like you don’t trust your boyfriend much.”

“That is none of your business.”

“You should be proud of him. Few men have the courage to go and meet the princess. Even fewer succeed in taking her back to her kingdom. Most only care about having sex with her. She rejects those.”

“And what happens to them?”

“They return and remain the same. But if the man regards her beyond the physical desire, she knights him into a very special order. He returns another man. Wiser, more mature.”

Luciane thought for a while.

“I have to show you something, Javier.”

She felt ashamed while she showed him the letter. Javier read it in silence. Then he folded it and handed it back.

Why didn’t you tell me that before, you venomous reptile?” he asked, very serious. “It would have saved me trouble.”

“I’m sorry. I just wanted to see if you were really good. Now I see you are.”

“Typical of a witch. A witch who still has a lot to learn. Anyway, I can’t bring him back. We can only hope he doesn’t fail.”

“We can forget about that.”

“Don’t underestimate men, my angel. Many leave carrying one truth and eventually find others.”

“I’m supposed to stay here and hope my boyfriend is strong enough to resist the princess? I don’t think that is going to work… Look at their faces, they look like lovey-doveys…”

“Girl, Marc must have been through hell because of that temper of yours…”

“I have the right to be mad. Besides, I’m paying.”

“You’re not paying anymore, dear. Nobody can go there and bring your boyfriend back. I’ll bet my braid on that.”

“Some sorcerer you are, you can’t even snatch a man from the arms of a stupid princess.”

“Ah, my angel, you still have a lot to learn about magic…”

“Well, teach me then. Now I want to learn.”

Javier looked at her with a mix of laughter and shock.

“What for, you crazy little thing? Don’t tell me you want to go there and bring…”

“Could I?” she interrupted him.

“I really doubt it. Even if you could, I wouldn’t recommend it.”

“What if I just wanted to watch?”

“That’s risky.”

“How so?”

“It’s her world, only men go there.”

“I want to go.”

Javier finished his coffee, stood up and washed his cup in the sink.

“Forget it, Luciane, it’s really very risky.”

“I’ll sign a document taking full responsibility. Don’t worry. Just tell me what I have to do. Then you bow out and I’ll do the rest.”

Javier sighed. One didn’t always have the privilege of watching a witch like her in action. However…

“How much do you want, Javier?”

He didn’t answer.

“I’ll pay you thirteen hundred, alright? And you teach me what to do.”

“I don’t know, I think we shouldn’t take chances…”

“Fifteen hundred.”

Javier was startled by the strength of her words. The witch was finally coming out… He observed the woman in front of him, so driven she had no doubt she could accomplish what she had in mind. But what could happen?

“Two thousand, Javier. Are you in or not?”

“Two thousand,” thought Javier. “Enough to spend fifteen days on the beach eating shrimp. Far away from those crazy men chasing women. What a day! First the lost princess, now a jealous witch willing to take her on face to face and break the sacred laws of magic. That would be an interesting clash to watch…”

But no. He wasn’t willing to condone the violation of such an important law. His name would go straight to the black book. On second thought, though… he didn’t have to incur such a high risk. He could just merely escort her to the forest and let her fend for herself. She was a witch anyway, wasn’t she?

“Three thousand,” he said. “And don’t haggle because I won’t do something that crazy for less.”

“Deal.” Luciane smiled with satisfaction. “I’m going to the bank to withdraw the money.”

“Wait, woman. Listen, we can only do it at night. I’m going to the store and we meet here later, OK? But you need to stay calm.”

“I am calm.”

“Sit down, look into my eyes and be very honest with me. Into my eyes, that’s right…” He grabbed her by the shoulders and stared hard into her eyes. “Do you promise you won’t do anything, that you’re just going to watch?”

“I promise.”

“You don’t sound very convincing.”

“I promise. I swear.”

“If you violate the laws, I don’t know what could happen to you.”

“I’m not going to do that.”

“You have to show that you’re on your boyfriend’s side, that you trust him. As much as he trusted you by telling you that story. That’s important. Do you understand?”

“I understand.”

“Do you really understand?”

“Yes.”

No, she didn’t understand. Javier could tell. Of course she didn’t understand.

“Then you may bring the money.”

*     *     *

The two laid on Marc’s bed with the painting between them. It was ten o’clock at night.

“Remember, we’re going to wake up soon after the dream like Marc told you in the letter. The portal is going to be open to the forest. As soon as it opens up, we go in. If we take too long, it disappears.”

“That easy?”

“Easy?! By gobbleddy golly! Of course not, woman! This portal only opens up once in a man’s lifetime. And it’s going to happen today again because the energy of the spell is still lingering around here. Let’s sleep now. It’s going to be a long night.”

He was still skeptical that a woman would be able to go into that world. But it was worth a try.

Luciane closed her eyes. Magic, portals, creatures from another world, all those things were making her very excited. It was like a new strength she never suspected she could have had suddenly manifested in her, and that gave her a strange and pleasant feeling of power. Javier had warned her of the danger, but the one in danger was her boyfriend in the arms of a man-hunting princess. But she, Luciane, could bring him back. Yes, she had that power, she could feel it like blood flowing under her skin.

Maybe Javier was right. Maybe she really was a witch. Right or wrong, she would find out on that night.

*     *     *

QuandoOsHomensNaoVoltamParaCasa-1They woke up like Javier had described. Luciane opened her eyes in the darkness of the bedroom. She was still sleepy, but could perfectly see the forest trees… They looked like shadows, but… yes, they were there, the trees were in the bedroom!

“Javier?”

“Don’t talk now,” he answered almost whispering and got out of the bed on the other side. “Come on, stand up.”

She put her feet on the floor and stood up. It felt like a dream, but she could feel, little by little, the concrete reality of the bedroom overpowering her senses and her thoughts as if pulling her back…

Then she saw Javier go into the beaten dirt path among the trees and quickly followed him.

And it was like waking up. She suddenly felt awake. She was walking in the forest. The silence was so deep and so perfect she felt scared. The trees, the smell of the woods… Everything was real but a little cloudy, like a dream. She was walking, but couldn’t quite feel the floor. She touched the trees, but couldn’t feel them entirely. She felt her senses were numb. Her thinking, however, was in perfectly working order.

That couldn’t be true, she thought. It had to be some kind of dream…

“Stop thinking, you fool! If you keep questioning it, you will be thrown back automatically!”

Javier was shocked: she had accomplished it. The things a jealous woman would do…

“Where are you, Javier?” She could hear, but not see him.

“I’m stuck along the way, I can’t go in any further. But don’t worry about me. I can see you from here.”

“Where are they?”

“Focus.”

Luciane closed her eyes and suddenly knew she was supposed to turn left. She walked for some time. She wasn’t afraid anymore. She felt strong and determined. Going past a curve, the saw the wooden bench, and a little bit farther was the lake and the small anchorage. She ran towards it anxiously. But she found nobody. Just water and mist. And the silence.

“They’re gone, Javier!”

“Then you came in too late, dear.”

“But they can’t be too far…” she said, looking around. The mist over the lake, however, wouldn’t let her see much farther than a few yards.

“I guess that was for the better, Luciane.”

She dipped one foot in the water. It was smooth and warm.

“Hey, what are you doing?”

She didn’t answer.

“Luciane!”

She dipped the other foot.

“You dimwit, you’re not going find anybody in that fog!”

She kept going forward and could vaguely feel the lake floor under her feet, the water slowly crawling up her body…

“Luciane, get out of there while you still can. You may never find your way back.”

She began to swim and it was like swimming in clouds.

“Marc!” she shouted, going increasingly farther into the mist, and her shout echoed for a long time in the infinite silence of the lake.

She shouted again, louder. And kept waiting and floating… But she heard nothing, no response. She swam again, even farther into the mists. After some time, she heard it:

“Lu, is that you?”

“It’s me, Marc! I’m here!”

Luciane was overpowered by an irresistible wave of joy. Marc was there somewhere. She had made it. She had challenged the laws of magic and won. Javier was right: she really was a witch. And how much had she missed for not knowing that?

“Where are you, my love?” she shouted, excited.

Little by little, she could make out the features of the boat in the mist, then she saw Marc stand up and push the boat with a long pole. She saw his knight apparel, the chain mail, the tight slacks, the boots… In other circumstances, she would have found him absolutely ridiculous and would have had a fit of laughter. But not now. He looked beautiful… He was her man. Only hers, no other woman’s.

But there was something odd… There was something off about Marc, something different… She kept looking at him while she floated. He was definitely more handsome, but there was something else… There was this dignity. Yes, dignity, a knight’s loftiness, as if worthy of someone… at the service of a princess.

She immediately lost all the joy of the reunion and had this terrible feeling of being replaced by another woman. Marc had never behaved that way for her. What about the princess, where was she?

“Lu, what are you doing here?”

“I came to get my boyfriend back, of course,” she answered, clutching at the boat.

“Luciane, don’t!” It was Javier’s voice. “You don’t need to climb!”

She climbed quickly.

“My love, what are you doing?” Marc asked, startled. “You can’t stay here.”

“I ask you, Marc, I ask you,” she said very sternly, standing up on the boat. “What the hell are you doing here while I… By the way, where is the bitch?”

“Who?”

“The phony princess.”

“Can’t you see?”

Luciane could not see anybody except him.

“She must have fled when she saw me. At least she is smart.”

“Lu, you can’t stay here.”

“Just tell me one thing: what does that princess have that I don’t? Will you? You can say it, I won’t be mad.”

“We will discuss that later, Lu. I have to escort the princess to her kingdom. When I come back, we…”

“No, you’re coming back now. Let’s go home. You have no idea the hell I’ve been through since you disappeared.”

“I can’t, Lu. Please understand…”

“Marc, I admit I made a few mistakes… Do you still love me?”

“Lu, you’re ruining everything!”

“I won’t go back without you.”

“I can’t go back now!” Marc yelled in anguish. “Don’t you understand? I can’t!”

“Then I’m going with you. I want to see that kingdom.”

“Luciane, you crazy heretic!” It was Javier’s voice. “Get out of there now!”

“Two men trying to give me orders… One thinks he is a knight and the other is a raving queen. Just what I needed. Marc, how can you be in love with a woman that doesn’t exist, you fool? I exist, look at me…”

“Lu, I’m going to have to kick you out of this boat…”

“I am a witch, my love. You can’t fight me.”

“Luciane, don’t do that!” Javier shouted again.

Marc wrestled and immobilized her. But Luciane tried to escape and they both lost their balance. They fell in the water and sank fast. The lake became all silent again.

A few seconds later, a body emerged to the surface. It was Luciane.

“Marc!” she shouted, desperately. But she didn’t hear anything. “Marc!!!”

No answer. Just the silence of the lake.

“Javier, help me!”

But Javier didn’t answer either. Luciane looked for the boat but didn’t find it. She was surrounded by the mist, the endless mist. And the infinite, frightening silence. The deafening silence.

“Marc!!!” she shouted, increasingly desperate, looking for the margin that she just couldn’t find.

But nobody answered.

*     *     *

QuandoOsHomensNaoVoltamParaCasa-1Javier got up early in the morning. He felt tired. Next to the bed, there was a painting with the image of a forest, a lake with an anchorage and a wooden bench. No princesses or knights.

Minutes later, he closed the door of the apartment and left. The sun shone bright on the street. He put on his dark glasses, hailed a taxi and got in. He said good-morning to the driver, gave him an address and made himself comfortable in the back seat.

Why did women have to be so stubborn, he thought. He warned her so many times, and she just wouldn’t listen. What a shame. What a waste of such wonderful talent. And the young man, so handsome… He opened the pocket of his coat and checked the wad of money: three grand for his service.

Passing by the park, Javier saw the crowd and a police car. The taxi slowed down. He took the opportunity to ask an old lady about what was happening. She told him that two bodies had been found in the lake. A young man and a young woman.

Javier almost asked the driver to stop. But he decided against it. He was sure he would hate to see what he would have seen.

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Ricardo Kelmer – blogdokelmer.com

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(script for a movie soon)

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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.

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> Amazon (kindle) english/portuguese

> In portuguese – blog 

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The incubus

25/03/2020

OIncubo-05

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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 INCUBUS

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OIncubo-05He will come as if in a dream, but will be real. Because he inhabits the deepest – and most shameful, don’t forget that – reality of your desires. He will be slow and quiet. And he will leave his shoes at the door so he can walk on your floor gently and feel, right from the first steps, every detail of your presence. He is careful indeed.

Are there clothes thrown on the couch in the living room? Have you been sloppy lately? Who is the young man in the framed photograph? Is he your boyfriend? What would he say if he knew he has been in your apartment late at night? Your bedroom door will be locked, of course, but he knows you have been expecting him. And that is exactly why he will be allowed to come closer and get in. If this rendezvous weren’t already happening in your thoughts, my dear, he would never come through that door whether it’s open or not.

He will come into your bedroom while he gets accustomed to the dim light. His eyes will find you sound asleep in your bed with your lips touching the pillow and your hair winding around the contours of your delicate face. Then he will allow himself to desecrate the harmony of the sight and push away a particular lock of hair that adamantly moves towards your lips. He is profane indeed.

No, he will absolutely not feel guilty for breaching your most secret intimacy. You, of all people, always so chaste. Because it’s you who wanted it to be this way although you’d never admit it, not even to yourself. That is the logic of it: you must call him so he can come. He is therefore merely fulfilling an old wish of yours. Besides, he would love to be around in the morning when you are still sleepy and wash your face and have the first recollection of the dream you had. So strange, so crazy… But so real, wasn’t it? Ah, yes, he would love to see you come to a standstill in front of the mirror with the look in your eyes of someone who suddenly remembers, the suspended gesture in the vain attempt to freeze the rest of the memory that fades away and away… And your look of surprise and incredulity. But no, he cannot be present, his powers are ineffective when he is away from dreams.

He will tug on the end of the sheet and uncover your slender shoulder. Another pull will reveal your breasts to his grateful eyes while they rest easy and aloof on the peaceful rhythm of your breath. He will not resist and an involuntary smile will creep across his face… He will then be compelled to stop for a moment and compare the sight before him to the woman he knows, so chaste. If you could wake up now, you certainly would throw one of your fits of indignation and loud protests that he is violating your intimacy and has no right to do it. But in this dream, my dear, there is no place for acts of violence. Besides, didn’t you call him? And who could be better than him, the one who can sense what is hidden, to understand the coy beauty of your breasts?

Then suddenly, to his total shock… You will move and turn your body around and take the sight of your breasts away from him. He will confess, after all his experience on this matter, that it is a shame and he wasn’t expecting it. He will then whisper to your ear with the smile of a light-hearted outrage that certain modesties will never change and never sleep…

He will express his disapproval by completely removing the sheet that still covers the rest of your body. And our friend will have yet another surprise. Two surprises, actually. Who could ever imagine, even himself, that such an extremely chaste person would sleep naked, completely and artlessly naked? And even more interesting, that she was so desirable without her clothes?! Certainly nobody since you always insisted on hiding so much. He certainly wouldn’t as he has been observing your lust for this adventure for some time behind the thick walls of your defense.

Once the sheet is removed, the profane will step away from your bed and stand on a better vantage point to behold the scene like a proud painter admiring his latest piece. You, naked and vulnerable. Surrendered to the eyes of a man like you never thought you could. The skin glistening in the penumbra. Your body completely naked, enticingly laid on the bed, finally authorized, nihil obstat. Oh, he will certainly rejoice at the sight of you trapped in your own nudity…

And his besotted eyes will survey the landscapes of your body, mounds and plains, savannas and grottos. He will fondly relish every intricacy of your skin and look for new angles for your unconscious beauty —unashamed at last. A fine and cruel thief of intimacies, inhumane and disrespectful. Come to think of it, he will say, a little perversity can’t harm a woman! Especially you, who won’t even admit during the day what you indulge yourself in dreams…

He will then distrustfully take notice of your heavier breath, its fast pace. He will bring his face close to yours anticipating the new surprise and will finally acknowledge your arousal. Well, well, well, he will proclaim with a smile. So the dream has begun… And while he disrobes next to your bed, he will observe your anguished, impatient motions as if reaching for someone who is absent.

He will attend this rendezvous because you want it, let that be very clear, also because he’s been curious to know what really happens behind your seeming coldness and indifference. Yes, seeming, he’s always known that, for even in women, as deceptive as they have always been, a glance doesn’t always move as fast as lies — or abilities, as you wish. And it was the glance, my dear, it was exactly that small detail that gave you away on that day, you and your carefully crafted pretenses. It was just a fleeting exchange of glances, all too quick, that’s true, no more than a desire that for one second surreptitiously escaped your control, took notice of his glance and turned back to disdain swiftly. Ah, but it was too late. Now he knows everything.

After dropping his clothes in a corner, he will lie down next to you in bed. Enough with the perversity. He will feel your welcoming warmth and the delicate scent of your skin. You will throw old scruples on the floor and keep them there for as long as he is around, and they will certainly be shocked at your revealed disposition. Your eyes will be shut all along, but will see it all in your dream. They won’t see his eyes though, which will cloud your memories even further.

As your mouth seeks him and your arms hungrily demand his body, he will smile at your unsuspected ardor. He will finally close his eyes and slither into your dream and won’t retreat until he opens them up again.

You will remember most of it on the next day, but your memory of it will be like a mist that dissolves gradually and turns into the feeling of having lived that kind of experience one day, somewhere…

But how can that happen when everything was just a dream, you will wonder, always amazed at the quality of the memories that will make you secretly smile throughout the day, suddenly abashed. “What is going on?” a friend will ask suspiciously, and you will cover it up by looking for something to look busy. But you won’t always be able to hide your smile. It will get out of hand and expose your unabashed satisfaction to yourself.

Yes, you will think about him and you’ll be very close to surrendering to desire several hesitant times while sitting next to the telephone. You will carelessly whisper the name of this cursed character on the street and, at the same time, you will avoid his presence because you would feel naked in such an encounter. And every time you recollect that night, you will feel a cold wind blow the hair on your skin and give you chills. Winds from another world? You once read something about demons who breach the sleep of women to copulate with them. Medieval legends. That story has haunted you since then.

Demons… Who knew they could be so competent, you will wonder, and will finally let yourself play a little. Very competent…

But no, no… You will shake your head, abandon these crazy thoughts and go back to your chores. Entering someone else’s dream, come on, that would be the end of the world…

But… what if it were possible? What if they really could…

No, no, it was all a dream, you will tell yourself once again, fighting the burning desire to see him again. It was just a crazy dream and a coincidence. Besides, those things ceased to exist a long time ago.

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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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Fim do mundo inesquecível em Jericoacoara

01/10/2012

Ricardo Kelmer 2012

Concorra a um fim de semana pra casal numa das praias mais lindas do mundo

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Criei uma promoção pra divulgar o lançamento de meu livro de contos Guia de Sobrevivência para o Fim dos Tempos. Ela brinca com a crença que o mundo vai acabar em 21 de dezembro de 2012. A promoção acontece no Facebook e pra participar, basta compartilhar a postagem da promoção e deixar nome e cidade. Obrigado à Pousada Casa do Ângelo, que tem o saudável hábito de apoiar causas culturais. Eis o texto:

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FIM DO MUNDO INESQUECÍVEL EM JERICOACOARA
> sorteio de pacote para casal (3 dias + transporte + livro)

Se o mundo vai mesmo acabar no fim do ano, melhor estar numa praia paradisíaca, hospedado numa pousada aconchegante e acompanhado do novo livro de contos de Ricardo Kelmer. E se o mundo não acabar, você terá boas histórias pra contar…

SORTEIO – A Pousada Casa do Ângelo, em Jericoacoara-CE, sorteará um pacote de 3 dias (21 a 23.12.12) para casal, incluindo transporte ida e volta Fortaleza-Jericoacoara-Fortaleza, além de 1 exemplar do livro Guia de Sobrevivência para o Fim dos Tempos (contos fantásticos, Editora Arte Paubrasil), de Ricardo Kelmer. Para participar compartilhe esta postagem e deixe seu nome e cidade. Sorteio: 31.10.12 pela Loteria Federal. O prêmio nao é transferível. Se você curtir a página do livro, ganhará mais dois livros do autor (à sua escolha).

DESCONTO – Participantes da promoção podem adquirir o livro por R$ 22, com dedicatória e frete incluído.

LEITORES QUE ADQUIRIRAM NA PRÉ-VENDA receberão o livro pelo correio até o início de novembro

PÁGINA DO LIVRO NO FACEBOOK

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PARTICIPANTES DA PROMOÇÃO: 26
até 01.10.12, 20h

CE – Alyson Fernandes Basilio, Bruna Braun, Camila Souza, Cledson Ramos Bezerra, Danielle Freire, Esther de Paula, Fabio Oliveira, Felipe Araújo, Gustavo Lima Verde, Hawylla Gonçalves, Jefferson Roberto, Lano Lima, Letícia Silva, Linda Mascarenhas, Michele SJ, Paulo Costa, Quel Raquel, Rochelle Araujo, Sandra Alves Ribeiro, Soraya Aquino (Fortaleza), Adryanno Ferreira, Paula Izabela (Juaz. do Norte)
PB – Samantha Pimentel (Campina Grande)
PR – Ana Cristina Suzina (Ponta Grossa)
PI – Teresinha Itapirema (Parnaíba)
RR – Suely Bezerra (Boa Vista)
SP – Juliana Martins (SB do Campo), Barbara Leite, Durval Brasil, Maria Do Carmo Antunes, Maria Pimentel (São Paulo)

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SOBRE O LIVRO

Publicado originalmente em 1997, o livro foi reescrito e alguns contos mudaram bastante. Em minha opinião, ficou bem melhor. Nos nove contos que formam este livro, onde o mistério e o sobrenatural estão sempre presentes, os personagens são surpreendidos por estranhos acontecimentos que abalam sua compreensão da realidade e de si mesmos e deflagram crises tão intensas que podem se transformar numa questão de sobrevivência. Um livro sobre apocalipses pessoais.

LANÇAMENTOS – Em breve divulgarei as datas e locais dos lançamentos em São Paulo, Fortaleza e outras cidades.

> Saiba mais, leia contos e comentários

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pousadacasadoangelo.com.br

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Seja Leitor Vip e ganhe:

– Acesso aos Arquivos Secretos
– Descontos, promoções e sorteios exclusivos
Basta enviar e-mail pra rkelmer(arroba)gmail.com com seu nome e cidade e dizendo como conheceu o Blog do Kelmer. (saiba mais)

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Comentarios01COMENTÁRIOS
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O fim dos tempos chega primeiro aqui

10/07/2012

Ricardo Kelmer 2012

Putz, Kelmer, minha situação financeira tá horrorosa… Sério? Então parabéns, seus problemas acabaram


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Meu livro de contos fantásticos Guia de Sobrevivência para o Fim dos Tempos (Editora Artepaubrasil, 2012) será lançado em outubro. Os leitores que adquiriram com aquele descontão na pré-venda receberão o livro pelo correio, com seus nomes devidamente constantes na página Galeria de Leitores Especiais. Chique no último.

E os Leitores Vips? Diferente dos simples mortais, eles poderão adquirir o livro diretamente comigo com um bom desconto. Chique no penúltimo.

Putz, Kelmer, minha situação financeira tá horrorosa… Sério? Então parabéns, seus problemas acabaram. Você pode ler alguns contos aqui no blog ou baixar gratuitamente o piratão (pdf) pra ler no computador ou imprimir. Pode não ser chique mas funciona.

Prefiro que leiam o piratão oficial pois como enviei o livro ainda não finalizado pra algumas pessoas analisarem, versões não-autorizadas podem circular pelaí. E se você gostar do livro, repasse o arquivo aos amigos pois é assim que espero que ele se torne rapidamente conhecido. Em 2013 a editora deverá lançar o e-book oficial, com todos aqueles recursos bacanudos e coisital.

E o meu buchão aí na revista Pinheiros Vip, gostou?

SOBRE O LIVRO

Publicado originalmente em 1997, o livro foi reescrito e alguns contos mudaram bastante. Em minha opinião, ficou bem melhor.

Nos nove contos que formam este livro, onde o mistério e o sobrenatural estão sempre presentes, os personagens são surpreendidos por estranhos acontecimentos que abalam sua compreensão da realidade e de si mesmos e deflagram crises tão intensas que podem se transformar numa questão de sobrevivência. Um livro sobre apocalipses pessoais e coletivos.

RESUMO DOS CONTOS
alguns estão disponíveis p/ leitura no blog

O íncubo – Íncubos eram demônios que invadiam o sono das mulheres para copular com elas, uma difundida crença medieval. Mas… e se ainda existirem?

Quando os homens não voltam para casa – Mulher contrata os serviços de um sensitivo para reencontrar o namorado que foi atraído por uma bela princesa para dentro de um quadro de parede.

O cilindro da luz azul – Em sua luta para sobreviver num mundo apocalíptico de autoritarismo e violência, casal descobre estranhos cilindros trazidos pelo mar.

A vertigem – Dizem que seo Pepeu, o louco da cidade, possui dois bichinhos mágicos que localizam coisas perdidas e fazem as pessoas se encontrarem. Mas ele está velho e tem de passar a alguém a missão de cuidar dos bichinhos.

Pequeno incidente em Hukat – Integrante do Projeto Sapiens de Monitoramento Planetário descobre irregularidades comprometendo a evolução da espécie humana e se envolve em rebelião contra Deus, o psicomputador.

Crimes de paixão – Detetive investiga estranhos crimes envolvendo personagens típicos da boêmia Praia de Iracema e descobre que alguém pretende matar a noite.

O presente de Mariana – A cabocla Mariana, entidade da umbanda, propõe noivado ao moço Dedé. Ela garante estabilidade financeira mas em troca exige fidelidade absoluta.

Há algo de podre no 202 – Quando crianças, as primas guardavam um terrível segredo sobre o amanhecer. Agora que cresceram, o que pode acontecer?

O strip-tease – Criaturas do futuro que voltam no tempo para garantir que eles mesmos, no passado, não cancelem o futuro – esses são os Observadores.

> Saiba mais, leia comentários, baixe o piratão oficial

> Baixe outros livros kelméricos

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Seja Leitor Vip e ganhe:

– Acesso aos Arquivos Secretos
– Descontos, promoções e sorteios exclusivos
Basta enviar e-mail pra rkelmer(arroba)gmail.com com seu nome e cidade e dizendo como conheceu o Blog do Kelmer. (saiba mais)

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Comentarios01 COMENTÁRIOS
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01- Detestei te ver nu e grávido,mas reconheço que a estratégia foi ótima pra gente se manter ligado às últimas do blog.Tb não sou mulher de ¨piratão”… Hehehe.Acredita q ainda sou mocinha e ainda tenho TPM? Pois é.Acho q vc me pegou num mau dia,pobre Kelmer! Mas,apesar dos pesares, ailóviu, vc sabe disso. Bjs da loura 🙂 Mônica B, Recife-PE – jul2012

02- rapaz! to em choque! hehehe… quer dizer que no atual momento vc está de licença maternidade? hehehe… abçomano. Marcelo Ferrari, São Paulo-SP – jul2012

03- Putz Ricardo, quem é o pai? Blz, arrasou na curtição! Espero que o lançamento seja o maior sucesso e as vendas ainda mais! cheiro Amaury, Fortaleza-CE – jul2012

04- Kelmer, voce está IRRESISTÌVEL assim! UAU! Tentei postar no seu blog mas ele não deixou. Precisa CPF, RG, carta de boas intenções, jurar que eu sou eu mesma mesmo e que mais…? beijo! parabens! Beatriz Del Picchia, São Paulo-SP – jul2012

05- fio, até grávido vc fica lindo! bjão. Renata Regina, São Paulo-SP – jul2012

06- kkkkkkkkkkk… Paula Medeiros de Castro, São Paulo-SP – jul2012

07- kkkkk ‘Believe Ricardo. Krishna Eufrásio, Fortaleza-CE – jul2012

08- ‎Ricardo Kelmer,sou sua fã. Fadinha, Fortaleza-CE – jul2012

09- diabéisso tio???? kkkkkkkkk Laís Galvão, Fortaleza-CE – jul2012

10- comeu o que mesmo,kkkkkkkkkk. Luciene Maia, Fortaleza-CE – jul2012

09- kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk meu primo !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ângela Dias, Fortaleza-CE – jul2012

10- Dia 06/10 seria um dia muito especial para o lançamento desse livro. Que tal? rsrsrsrsrsrs. Maria do Carmo Antunes, São Paulo-SP – jul2012

11- Vou fazer o parto. Vânia Dias, Fortaleza-CE – jul2012

12- Vou ser a madrinha??? Kkkkkkk. Karen Brochado, Fortaleza-CE – jul2012

13- Cruzes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Virgínia Ludgero, Lisboa-Portugal – jul2012

RK: Coisa boa é mulher rindo / O que pode ser mais lindo? / Só mesmo mulher gozando / Até se goza chorando / Seja no riso ou no gozo / Não tem nada mais mimoso / É tudo o que a vida quer / Ver prazer numa mulher 🙂 São Paulo-SP – jul2012


RK na Nova Consciência 2012

19/02/2012

Ricardo Kelmer 2012

Um festival multicultural que reúne arte, ciência, filosofia e tradições religiosas

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O Encontro da Nova Consciência é realizado desde 1992, durante o Carnaval, em Campina Grande, Paraíba. É um festival multicultural que reúne arte, ciência, filosofia e tradições religiosas, buscando um mundo melhor pelo caminho do respeito às diferenças. Nesta 21ª edição, farei duas palestras, participarei de duas mesas e lançarei o livro novo. Eis os horários de minhas participações:

> 6ª feira, 17fev

AUDITÓRIO SESC CENTRO
21h40 – Palestra – “A revolução do mundo autoconsciente: Cidadania global como saída para a crise evolutiva”.

> Sábado, 18fev

3º ENCONTRO DE LITERATURA CONTEMPORÂNEA
15h30 – Mesa: “Realismo fanástico, RPG e a escrita de ficção científica”. Com André de Sena (escritor, jornalista-PE) e Wander Shirukaya (escritor-PB). Mediação: Bruno Ribeiro (PB).
16h45 – Lançamento do livro “O irresistível charme da insanidade” (romance, Editora Artepaubrasil-2011).

> 2ª feira, 20fev

AUDITÓRIO SESC CENTRO
14h – Mesa – “Produção cultural independente: ou colaboramos ou evaporamos”. Com Alberto Marsicano (Citarista-SP), Rayan Lins (Coletivo Mundo-PB) e Diogo Rocha (Coletivo Natora-AL). Coord.: Arthur Pessoa (Músico-PB).

> 3ª feira, 21fev

14º ENCONTRO DE ATEUS E AGNÓSTICOS
14h – Palestra – “Ativismo ateu: chatice ou necessidade?”

2º ENCONTRO DE COMUNICAÇÃO E MÍDIAS DIGITAIS
17h – Palestra – “Internet livre x direitos autorais – Mocinhos e vilões na guerra pelo controle da cultura mundial”

ENCERRAMENTO
Leitura da crônica Medo de Mulher (dedicada às mulheres violentadas e mortas em Queimadas-PB, em 12.02.12)
> Baixe o arquivo de áudio dessa leitura (mp3, 8mb)

> Todas as noites

Na praça, é claro, curtindo os shows da programação musical, que apresenta atrações locais, de outros estados e de outros países.

PROGRAMAÇÃO COMPLETA DO EVENTO

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VÍDEO DA PALESTRA
“A revolução do mundo autoconsciente – Cidadania global como saída para a crise evolutiva”

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O Irresistível Charme da Insanidade

Um músico obcecado pelo controle da vida. Uma viajante taoísta em busca de seu mestre e amante do século 16. O amor que desafia a lógica do tempo e descortina as mais loucas possibilidades do ser.

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Seja Leitor Vip e ganhe:

– Acesso aos Arquivos Secretos
– Descontos, promoções e sorteios exclusivos
Basta enviar e-mail pra rkelmer(arroba)gmail.com com seu nome e cidade e dizendo como conheceu o Blog do Kelmer. (saiba mais)

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Comentarios01 COMENTÁRIOS
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01- Ainda não conhecia o trabalho de Ricardo Kelmer, mas fiquei encantada de uma forma, que com certeza vou procurar suas obras para ler, principalmente seu filho mais recente, adorei o enredo… Harriet Galdino, Campina Grande-PB – fev2012



Guia de Sobrevivência para o Fim dos Tempos – Pré-venda

18/01/2012

Ricardo Kelmer 2012

Adquira antecipadamente com um ótimo desconto, tenha seu nome no livro e receba em casa, antes mesmo das livrarias


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“O que fazer quando de repente o absurdo invade nossa realidade e as velhas verdades se tornam inúteis? Para onde ir quando o mundo acaba?”

Meu livro de contos fantásticos Guia de Sobrevivência para o Fim dos Tempos será relançado este ano. E como terei que bancar parte do investimento, já iniciei a pré-venda do livro.

Adquirindo o livro antecipadamente até 10fev, você ganha desconto especial (nas livrarias custará R$ 30) e seu nome constará na obra, na seção Galeria de Leitores Especiais. E você receberá o livro pelo correio no início de abril, com dedicatória, antes mesmo das livrarias.

PREÇOS (pro mesmo endereço, frete incluído)

1 exemplar: R$ 21
2 exemplares: R$ 19 cada
3 exemplares em diante: R$ 19 cada + 1 livreto de brinde (você escolhe o livreto, veja no fim)

BANCOS PARA DEPÓSITO: HSBC, Itaú, Banco do Brasil e Bradesco. Pra participar, envie e-mail pra rkelmer(arroba)gmail.com e eu entrarei em contato informando as contas.

SOBRE O LIVRO

Publicado originalmente em 1997, o livro foi reescrito e alguns contos mudaram bastante. Em minha opinião, ficou bem melhor. Nos nove contos que formam este livro, onde o mistério e o sobrenatural estão sempre presentes, os personagens são surpreendidos por estranhos acontecimentos que abalam sua compreensão da realidade e de si mesmos e deflagram crises tão intensas que podem se transformar numa questão de sobrevivência. Um livro sobre apocalipses pessoais.

> Saiba mais, leia alguns contos, veja comentários

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LIVRETOS DO BRINDE (comprando 3 ou mais livros)
formato bolso, 48 pag

Guia do Escritor Independente (dicas)
Memórias de um Excomungado (crônicas, reflexão, humor)
Um Ano na Seca (conto, erotismo, humor)
O Ultimo Homem do Mundo (conto, terror, humor)
Blog do Kelmer (crônicas, contos)

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Seja Leitor Vip e ganhe:

– Acesso aos Arquivos Secretos
– Descontos, promoções e sorteios exclusivos
Basta enviar e-mail pra rkelmer(arroba)gmail.com com seu nome e cidade e dizendo como conheceu o Blog do Kelmer. (saiba mais)

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Comentarios01 COMENTÁRIOS
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O dilema do escritor seboso

07/10/2010

07out2010

Certos escritores amadurecem cedo. Tenho inveja desses. Porque nunca viverão o constrangimento de não se reconhecerem em suas primeiras obras

RK1998JackOlivetti-02a

O DILEMA DO ESCRITOR SEBOSO

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Dia desses acessei o Estante Virtual, digitei meu nome no campo de buscas e encontrei, espalhados pelos sebos constantes no site, noventa livros meus. Foi aí que caiu a ficha: sou um escritor seboso! Fiquei feliz porque para um escritor, ter seus livros expostos é sempre bom, claro, e estar exposto numa imensa livraria virtual que reúne centenas de sebos e livrarias de todo o país é a certeza de que qualquer pessoa, do Oiapoque ao Chuí, poderá localizar facilmente meus livros e comprá-los sem precisar sair de casa.

Entre os títulos que encontrei, o único com exemplares novos é o Vocês Terráqueas, de 2008, que eu mesmo deixei num sebo paulistano. Os demais títulos são livros usados de edições antigas, inclusive o Quem Apagou a Luz?, de 1995, meu livro de estreia, da minha fase esotérica. Sim, já fui esotérico, eu juro. E este livro, que é prova disso, é meu campeão de vendas, com uns sete mil exemplares vendidos pela Universalista, uma pequena editora do interior do Paraná. Quatro anos depois a editora Record quis comprar os direitos de publicação mas eu já não gostava mais do livro e ele nunca foi reeditado. Mas essa história eu conto melhor outro dia, prometo.

No Estante Virtual encontrei também O Irresistível Charme da Insanidade, meu romance místico-erótico de 1996. Estavam lá também o Guia de Sobrevivência para o Fim dos Tempos, livro de contos fantásticos, de 1997 (e a edição de 2000, pela editora Elevação), e o Baseado Nisso, meu livro independente de 1998, com seus contos de humor sobre o universo folclórico dos usuários de maconha e o glossário de termos e expressões.

Foi interessante ver esses livros lá, à disposição de quem quisesse adquiri-los. Mas foi também constrangedor esse encontro com o meu passado literário. Explico. É que a partir de 2004, estando sem editora, decidi republicar meus livros em edições independentes. E daí? Daí que, ao relê-los, morri de vergonha pois percebi que estavam mal escritos, as histórias não estavam bem contadas como deveriam. Então, antes de republicar, reescrevi todos eles.

Isso é comum entre escritores, desejar reescrever seus livros ao relê-los tempos depois. Eu não fujo à regra pois a cada releitura de meus textos, sempre sou tentado a mudar algo. Ultimamente, porém, isso já não ocorre tanto – sinal de maturidade estilística? Tomara. O campeão de mudanças é O Irresistível Charme da Insanidade: ele tem uma versão publicada em 1996, outra em 2005 e em 2010 reescrevi novamente para a edição da Arte Paubrasil. Dessa última vez usei minha experiência de roteirista e me concentrei no que era absolutamente indispensável à história, agilizando as situações e dando à narrativa o ritmo que ela sempre necessitou ter. Quinze anos após parir o rebento, só agora sinto que ele está realmente pronto para ganhar o mundo.

Certos escritores amadurecem cedo. Tenho inveja desses. Porque nunca viverão o constrangimento de não se reconhecerem em suas primeiras obras. Nunca olharão para os seus livros nos sebos e secretamente desejarão que fiquem lá encalhados por toda a eternidade. A mim, do time dos que demoram a amadurecer, me resta esperar que alguns leitores comparem as edições antigas e novas e digam: É, até que ele melhorou…

Enquanto isso, aiai, lá no Estante Virtual o meu passado seboso me condena. Quer saber? Amanhã mesmo voltarei lá. E roubarei todos os exemplares de quem um dia eu fui.

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Ricardo Kelmer 2010 – blogdokelmer.com

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Lançamento do Guia de Sobrevivência para o Fim dos Tempos (1997)

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RK1998LordAutografando1Lançamento do Baseado Nisso. Encarnando Lord Kelmer (1998)

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rk200508ICI-01Edição de bolso do Irresistível Charme da Insanidade (2005)

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Bienal do Livro, Fortaleza (2006)

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Vocês Terráqueas, Bienal de São Paulo (2010)

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LIVROS PUBLICADOS
relação atualizada aqui
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Quem Apagou a Luz?
(Ensaio, 1995. Fora de catálogo)
Certas coisas que você deve saber sobre a morte para não dar vexame do lado de lá

O Irresistível Charme da Insanidade
(romance, 1996/2005/2011)
Uma história de amor e vidas passadas, com erotismo e rock´n´roll

Guia de Sobrevivência para o Fim dos Tempos
(contos, 1997/2005)2012)
O fantástico e o sobrenatural invadirão sua realidade. Você está preparado?

Baseado Nisso
Liberando o bom humor da maconha
(contos/glossário, 1998/2005)
Contos sobre o folclore dos usuários + glossário de termos e expressões

A Arte Zen de Tanger Caranguejos
(crônicas, 2003)

Seleção de crônicas publicadas em jornal, 1992 a 2003

Matrix e o Despertar do Herói
A jornada mítica de autorrealização em Matrix e em nossas vidas
(ensaio, 2005)

Blues da Vida Crônica
(crônicas, 2007)
Seleção de crônicas publicadas em jornal, 2003 a 2006

Guia do Escritor Independente
Como publicar livros e gerenciar a carreira literária
(dicas, 2007)

Vocês Terráqueas
Seduções e perdições do feminino
(contos/crônicas, 2008)
Coletânea de textos sobre a Mulher

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LEIA TAMBÉM

MeuFantasmaPredileto-01Meu fantasma prediletoDiziam que era a alma de alguém que fora escritor e que se aproveitava do ambiente literário de meu quarto para reviver antigos prazeres mundanos

O encontrão marcado – Fechei o livro, fui até a janela e olhei pro mundo lá fora. E disse baixinho, com a leveza que só as grandes revelações permitem: tenho que ser escritor

Kelmer Com K no Toma Lá Dá Cá – Aqueles aloprados moradores do condomínio Jambalaya descobriram meu livro maldito

Pesadelos do além – O pior pesadelo prum escritor é ser psicografado. Ou melhor: ser mal psicografado.

O escritor grávido – Será um lindo bebê, digo, um lindo livrinho, sobre o mais belo de todos os temas

Livros e odaliscas – Meia-noite. Volto do banho. Elas estão todas deitadas em minha cama, lânguidas odaliscas a me aguardar.

O chamado da caverna – Mas talvez não, talvez se decida por entregá-la ao mundo, mãe que não pode criar o filho porque sua missão termina em parir

Mais textos na categoria “Profissão escritor”

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Seja Leitor Vip e ganhe:

Acesso aos Arquivos Secretos
– Descontos, promoções e sorteios exclusivos
Basta enviar e-mail pra rkelmer@gmail.com com seu nome e cidade e dizendo como conheceu o Blog do Kelmer (saiba mais)

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Comentarios01COMENTÁRIOS
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Will Duran, no seu magnífico livro, A história da filosofia, diz que a imaturidade o tempo conserta. O Marx tentou várias vezes modificar o seu Manifesto Comunista, pois a cada vez que lia via possibilidades de mudanças. Em 2000 publiquei um ensaio sobre a violência urbana, Violência: causas, conseguencias e soluções,  e jamais imaginei que tudo que escrevi estaria acontecendo, mas devo te confessar que não gosto hoje do texto, pois ainda era neófito como publicista e fico até acabrunhado por tê-lo escrito. Mas o importante é escrevermos nossas histórias e ter a certeza de que um dia valeu a pena ter escrito, mesmo que depois não nos reconheçamos mais dentro do texto, como você genialmente dissertou. Forte abraço,

Luís Olímpio

Há algo de podre no 202

21/11/2008

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Quando crianças, as primas guardavam um terrível segredo sobre o amanhecer. Agora que cresceram, o que pode acontecer?

Fantástico, terror

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Este conto integra o livro Guia de Sobrevivência para o Fim dos Tempos

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HÁ ALGO DE PODRE NO 202

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EU E MINHA PRIMA HELGA sempre parecemos duas irmãs, de tão unidas. A mesma idade, os mesmos gostos. Na escola, sentávamos lado a lado e corríamos de mãos dadas pelo pátio, alegres como dois passarinhos. Na verdade, Helga foi a única amiga que tive.

Foi o melhor tempo de minha vida. Éramos crianças e o mundo inteiro o cenário de uma grande brincadeira. Depois éramos quase adolescentes e o mundo passou a ser a fonte inesgotável de deslumbramento, nós duas encantadas e amedrontadas com as possibilidades que a vida descortinava à nossa frente. E tínhamos uma à outra para nos proteger e confiar nossos segredos.

Nos fins de semana ela costumava dormir lá em casa e nossas noites eram recheadas de papos sem fim, nossas músicas preferidas, os diários compartilhados. Quando começamos a nos interessar pelos garotos, treinávamos, uma com a outra, os beijos que daríamos neles. E no escuro do meu quarto nós nos ensinávamos mutuamente sobre os prazeres que nossos corpos podiam nos oferecer.

Helga era um sentido. O único.

Uma noite mostrei-lhe uma foto do amanhecer, uma foto muito bonita na página de uma revista. Perguntei-lhe se ela já havia visto o nascer do sol. Helga me respondeu que não, mas que sabia de um segredo. E perguntou se eu poderia guardar uma informação ultrassecreta por toda a vida. Eu disse que sim, que ela podia confiar em mim.

– Então promete que nunca vai me trair.

– Prometo que nunca vou te trair – respondi, e toda a solenidade do momento nos envolvia feito música.

– Nunca jamais.

– Prometo que nunca jamais vou te trair – reforcei, beijando meus dedos em cruz.

Ela então trancou a porta do meu quarto e me fez sentar ao seu lado na cama. E falou baixinho em meu ouvido que do outro lado da noite não havia crianças, que era por isso que os adultos não as deixavam ficar acordadas para ver o amanhecer. Mas um dia, quando nós fôssemos adultas, cruzaríamos a noite, juntas, sem medo, e veríamos o amanhecer. Era o segredo. E sua promessa.

Abracei-a, confiante em suas palavras, e nessa noite dormimos juntinhas, num só abraço, protegidas de todo o mal e cúmplices para toda a vida de um segredo e de uma promessa que nos unia ainda mais.

Um dia, sua família precisou mudar de cidade. E Helga foi embora. Choramos bastante, lamentando nossa triste sina. Beijei-a com toda a doçura e disse-lhe que a amava. Ela enxugou minhas lágrimas, disse que me amava também e que tudo faria para que em breve nos reencontrássemos.

Mas a vida não seria tão simples quanto nossos planos infantis. As cidades eram distantes e nossas famílias não eram ricas. Não pudemos nos ver nas férias seguintes e tivemos de nos contentar com nossas cartas quase diárias, já que os poucos minutos de que dispúnhamos ao telefone eram um nada diante das tantas coisas que tínhamos para falar. Aos poucos, porém, as cartas de Helga passaram a demorar uma semana, depois um mês, depois meses… E um dia, não chegaram mais. Entristecida de saudade, eu insisti, escrevendo ainda mais. Mas ela nunca voltou a responder. Chorei minhas mágoas com mamãe e ela me consolou dizendo que havia outras meninas legais e que eu faria outras amizades.

Infelizmente, mamãe estava errada.

Um dia, quatro anos e vinte e cinco dias depois de nossa despedida, eu soube que Helga estava na cidade e iria lá em casa jantar conosco. Vibrei de alegria. Limpei e arrumei o quarto, troquei a cortina e pus lençóis e cobertores novos na cama.

Quando a porta abriu, tive duas surpresas. Helga estava diferente, havia crescido, era uma mulher. Estava ainda mais bonita. A outra surpresa foi o rapaz que estava com ela. Era seu namorado. Ela não havia falado dele. Eu não sabia. Apesar de simpático, não me senti à vontade com sua presença. Ela não deveria tê-lo levado lá em casa.

Helga me abraçou e beijou com carinho, disse que estava com saudade. Perguntei por que não respondera às minhas cartas e ela disse que não tinha tempo para escrever, mas que lia todas. Perguntei se as guardara. Ela riu, olhou para minha mãe e respondeu que sim.

Jantamos todos juntos e Helga contou as novidades, falou dos meus tios e que no fim do ano faria vestibular para Física, queria ser cientista. Eu não conseguia deixar de olhar para ela. Como estava linda!

Depois do jantar, fomos à sala ver televisão. Sentei-me entre Helga e seu namorado, assim evitaria que ele a beijasse. Quando ficou tarde, mamãe sugeriu que ela ficasse para dormir. Para minha alegria, Helga aceitou. Então ela despediu-se do namorado, combinando a hora que ele passaria para pegá-la no dia seguinte. Ele saiu e eu tranquei a porta.

Reservei minha cama para Helga, enquanto eu dormiria na rede. Quando ficamos a sós no quarto, puxei de baixo da cama o baú. Abri e mostrei-lhe meu maior tesouro: nossos antigos CDs, nossas fotos, meus diários, todas as suas cartas e os bilhetinhos que trocávamos durante as aulas.

Ela olhou tudo surpresa, não acreditando que eu realmente guardara aquilo durante tanto tempo. Segurou curiosa duas mechas de cabelo presas numa fita amarela e eu disse que eram nossos, ou ela não lembrava que cortávamos juntas nossos cabelos? Helga leu trechos de meu diário onde eu narrava meu sofrimento por estar distante dela e, nesse momento, sua voz parecia uma doce canção que falava de saudade. Perguntei-lhe se ainda me amava.

Ela parou de ler e olhou para mim. E me chamou para perto dela, na cama. Sentei a seu lado. Ela ajeitou meu cabelo e disse que gostava muito de mim, que jamais esqueceria nossa amizade. Perguntei se ela ainda sabia beijar. Ela riu e disse que sim. Então beijei sua boca. Ela correspondeu por alguns segundos, mas depois afastou-se. Perguntei se não havia gostado. Ela então falou que o que havia acontecido entre nós era coisa de crianças, que agora éramos adolescentes, quase adultas, que em breve estaríamos na faculdade.

Respondi que ela estava enganada, que nosso amor não era coisa de criança, que eu não a esquecera nem por um só minuto e que ela ainda era a coisa mais importante do mundo para mim. Ela me olhou carinhosamente e me abraçou. Disse que jamais esqueceria o que vivêramos, que lembrava de tudo com muita ternura e que, apesar do tempo e da distância, eu continuava sendo sua prima preferida. Insisti: ainda me amava? Sim, ela respondeu, mas que agora devíamos deixar aquelas lembranças guardadas numa caixinha e cuidar da vida, seguir em frente.

Ela juntou tudo e pôs de volta no baú. Trancou e me entregou a chave. Tentei entender o que ela fazia, mas estava confusa. Ela disse que já estava tarde, precisava dormir, no outro dia tinha que acordar cedo.

Helga dormiu. Eu não. Fiquei a noite inteira sentada no chão, ao lado da cama, vigiando seu sono para que nada de ruim lhe acontecesse. Tão bonita ela dormindo, parecia um anjo. A réstia de claridade que vinha da janela acariciava seu rosto… A Lua, invejosa, também queria beijá-la. Como eu beijei.

Em certo momento, olhei para a janela e vi que estava… amanhecendo! Levantei e fui até lá. Afastei a cortina e abri a janela. O céu já não era um breu. Por trás dos prédios ele começava a mudar de cor. A escuridão cedia espaço a bonitas nuvens alaranjadas e alguns raios pareciam furá-las e lançar-se mais acima. Era o amanhecer, o primeiro que eu presenciava em toda a minha vida.

Sorri, sentindo uma estranheza, uma sensação misturada de vitória e desconforto. E de medo. O amanhecer era bonito, mas ao mesmo tempo que admirava, eu estava com medo. Então era aquele o mundo do qual falara minha prima, o mundo para o qual um dia ela prometeu que iríamos juntas… Mas eu não sabia se queria ir, não me agradava a ideia de um mundo sem crianças. Estava bastante confusa.

Olhei para Helga, que dormia na cama. E a visão de seu rosto me encheu de coragem. Então me ajoelhei ao lado e a chamei, com ela eu não teria medo de ir. Chamei-a para que cumpríssemos o que ela uma vez prometera, que entraríamos juntas no mundo dos adultos.

Ela se mexeu na cama, sussurrou algo e voltou a dormir. Chamei-a novamente, ela tinha que levantar, tínhamos que entrar juntas, eu não iria sem ela. Mas ela disse que era cedo, que precisava dormir, que eu fosse dormir também. Chamei-a de novo. Ela então me olhou com raiva e disse que se eu não fosse para minha rede, chamaria minha mãe.

Afastei-me, surpresa. Helga jamais havia falado comigo naquele tom. Fiquei ali olhando para ela, tentando entender. Por que ela não queria ir comigo? Não fazia sentido. Eu não iria sozinha. Sem Helga, o que eu faria no mundo dos adultos?

Então, entendi. Ela preferia ficar em nosso mundo, o mundo das crianças, que ficava do lado de cá da noite. O nosso mundo, onde estaríamos protegidas para sempre de todo mal. Aliviada por ter finalmente entendido tudo, fechei a janela e deitei na rede.

Quando estava quase dormindo escutei algo que chamou minha atenção. Era um som de galope, pareciam cavalos se aproximando. Olhei para a janela. Era de lá que vinha o som. Levantei e fui até lá. E vi. As criaturas malignas.

Eram muitas, nem sei dizer quantas. Vinham montadas em seus cavalos bufantes, o galope alvoroçado. Gritavam e urravam e gargalhavam feito loucas. Empunhavam foices e lanças e as brandiam sobre as cabeças. Eram cadáveres humanos, esqueletos com restos de carne ainda pendurados. Criaturas semimortas, grotescas, horríveis. Pareciam saídas de seus caixões. A coisa mais pavorosa que eu já vira e haveria de ver em toda a vida.

Elas estavam logo à frente, expelindo ódio e crueldade pelos olhos vermelhos. E olhavam todas para minha janela, para onde eu estava, todos aqueles horríveis olhos vermelhos olhando para mim. Na imensidão da cidade, no meio dos prédios, as criaturas sabiam exatamente onde eu estava. Olhavam fixo para minha janela, para mim, e se aproximavam em seu galope enlouquecido e barulhento.

O desespero subiu pela minha garganta, e quando eu tentei chamar Helga, minha voz simplesmente não saiu. Elas estavam chegando e eu não podia gritar. Quis correr, mas minhas pernas não se mexeram e ali continuei, parada na janela. Elas se aproximavam e o barulho era cada vez maior. Como Helga podia continuar dormindo com aquele som ensurdecedor?

Enfim, chegaram. Pararam diante da janela. Eu escutava seus cavalos alvoroçados, bufando, prontos para invadir o quarto. Pude sentir aquele horrível cheiro de coisa podre, de animal morto, insuportável…

Então, juntei todas as minhas forças e, tão rápido quanto pude, saltei e joguei-me na cama, colando-me ao corpo de minha prima. Puxei o cobertor e me cobri dos pés à cabeça. Ela acordou e perguntou o que eu estava fazendo ali. Não consegui falar nada. De olhos fechados, tremia de terror.

Helga explicou que eu tivera um pesadelo, que estava tudo bem, que eu podia dormir com ela. Eu tremia, encolhida sobre mim mesma, apertando os olhos, petrificada de pavor. Helga me abraçou, tentando me acalmar. Mas era inútil. Elas estavam na janela e entrariam no instante seguinte.

Helga pediu que eu abrisse os olhos. Não abri. Ela insistiu, pediu que eu abrisse, que era ela quem estava ali, estava ao meu lado, sua prima querida. Não abri, não podia. Apenas tremia e tremia.

Ela então pegou minha mão, apertou-a na sua e pôs algo entre meus dedos. Era a nossa mecha de cabelo, que ficara fora do baú. Helga disse que aquilo era um amuleto, que eu não deveria mais ter medo, que o amuleto me protegeria todas as noites. Era só segurá-lo que o pesadelo iria embora.

Segurei a mecha de cabelo em minha mão, apertando-a com toda a força que pude. Então, aos poucos percebi que as criaturas se afastavam. O amuleto funcionava mesmo. Continuei segurando e apertando. E as criaturas se foram. Aos poucos, parei de tremer, e chorei de alívio e agradecimento. Abracei minha prima amada e assim adormecemos, juntinhas. Protegidas. Como nos velhos tempos. Como nunca deveria ter deixado de ser.

Quando despertei, porém, estava sozinha. Minha prima já havia saído. Olhei para a janela e o céu estava azul. Abri a mão e lá estava o amuleto.
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TENHO ATUALMENTE 21 ANOS. Saí de casa, vim cursar faculdade em outra cidade. Meus pais alugaram um pequeno apartamento, que é onde moro, junto com Ramin, meu gato persa. Ele é castrado e nunca sai do apartamento, assim me faz companhia.

Sempre cuidei de estar em casa antes do amanhecer para não ter o desprazer de rever aquela cena horrível. Por conta disso recusei muitos convites para passeios, pois temia não estar em minha cama, protegida, quando as criaturas malignas chegassem, vindas do mundo onde não há crianças. Sim, eu ainda tinha o amuleto. Mas ele era algo muito sagrado para que eu o usasse por aí em qualquer lugar.

Nunca falei das criaturas com quem fosse, nem com meus pais, nem amigas, nem ninguém. Era meu segredo, meu e de Helga. Um dia, porém, num momento de fraqueza, cedi e acabei contando para Luiz. Já namorávamos havia alguns meses, e ele sempre indagava sobre minha relutância em ver o amanhecer. Gostava dele e achei que entenderia, por isso que contei. Num momento de fraqueza quebrei nosso segredo.

Perguntei a Luiz se ele não as via, as criaturas horrendas, quando amanhecia. Perguntei se não escutava o barulho ensandecido dos galopes quando surgiam os primeiros raios do dia. Se não sentia o cheiro insuportável de bicho morto. Ele era uma pessoa sensível, certamente entenderia. Falei que muitos anos atrás Helga havia me alertado sobre o outro lado da noite, que havia me contado o segredo do amanhecer e que um dia eu finalmente vira com meus próprios olhos. Falei do amuleto que eu usava, que minha prima me dera especialmente para me proteger, que era por isso que eu sempre o usava num cordão no pescoço quando dormia.

Terminei de falar e fiquei aguardando, nervosa. Nesse instante, lembrei de Helga e senti todo o peso da quebra de um pacto valioso. O que ela pensaria? Será que me entenderia? Se ela conhecesse Luiz, certamente entenderia sim, ele era uma pessoa boa, gostava de mim.

Luiz escutou tudo e ficou muito sério. Perguntou se eu não estava brincando e respondi que não. Tornou a perguntar e tornei a negar. Perguntou uma terceira vez, e pela terceira vez neguei. Compreendi nesse exato momento que não devia ter contado.

Depois daí, Luiz mudou. Passou a me tratar de um modo mais frio. E, pior, tentou me convencer que aquilo tudo era invenção minha, que as criaturas malignas não existiam, que eu devia ver o amanhecer sem o amuleto para constatar o que ele dizia.

Eu deveria ter terminado o namoro aí mesmo. Senti muita raiva por ele me tratar como uma louca. Sei que não sou louca, eu vi as criaturas. Escutei o galope atropelado e os uivos alucinados, pude sentir o mau cheiro tomando conta do ar e por pouco suas garras não tocaram meu pescoço.

Ainda namoramos mais algumas semanas, apesar dele continuar tentando me convencer. Volta e meia tocava no assunto, mas eu não queria escutar, não queria mais falar sobre isso, sabia que não adiantava. Terminamos o namoro porque um dia ele fez algo que não pude aceitar.

Foi numa noite em que dormimos juntos. Acordei de repente, assustada. Ele me chamava. Apontava para a janela do meu quarto e pedia que eu olhasse, dizia que nada havia lá fora, havia apenas o amanhecer.

Olhei para a janela, ainda zonza de sono, e quase desmaiei do susto que tomei. Lá estavam as criaturas chegando, elas e sua correria alucinada. Já vinham perto, eu podia escutá-las como se estivessem dentro do apartamento.

Olhei para sua mão e vi o amuleto. Luiz o tirara de meu pescoço enquanto eu dormia, o idiota. Nesse instante, fui tomada por um ódio que nunca imaginei que pudesse ter. Ver o amuleto nas mãos daquele estúpido me deixou absolutamente enfurecida. Ele não podia ter feito aquilo.

Então o empurrei para fora da cama, gritando desesperada que ele não tinha o direito. Eu tentava recuperar o amuleto, mas ele não deixava, e dizia que eu olhasse lá para fora, que estava tudo normal, não havia nenhuma criatura maligna…

Eu poderia tê-lo matado, sinceramente que poderia. Luiz me tratava como se eu fosse uma louca. De fato, fiquei tomada pelo desespero, fiquei sim. Mas quem não ficaria vendo-as tão próximo?

Empurrei-o violentamente para o corredor e de lá para a sala. Ele tentava me conter, pedia calma, dizia que eu precisava de tratamento, que gostava muito de mim e queria me ajudar. Eu não queria ouvir e gritava que ele fosse embora. De um canto da sala, Ramin, despertado pelos gritos, via a tudo assustado. Eu estava mesmo desesperada. Não tinha tempo. Luiz me entregava à morte e não percebia isso.

Não sei onde arrumei tanta força, afinal Luiz é bem mais forte que eu, mas abri a porta da sala e o atirei longe. Ele caiu de costas no chão e foi rolando pelos degraus da escada. Apanhei o amuleto no chão e gritei, antes de bater a porta, que nunca mais queria vê-lo. E corri para o quarto, atirando-me à cama e me cobrindo com o cobertor.

Vivi tudo de novo, o inferno que eu jurara que jamais viveria novamente. Elas chegaram como da outra vez. Olharam pela janela e… entraram. Puseram-se em volta de minha cama, observando-me, todos aqueles cadáveres nojentos. Não, ninguém pode imaginar o que seja isso…

Enquanto eu, embaixo do cobertor, tremia e apertava em minhas mãos o amuleto, podia sentir seus olhares queimando feito brasa em minha pele, o bafo quente, o odor putrefato, meu corpo a um palmo de suas garras asquerosas… Não, ninguém pode imaginar.

Então, aos poucos, elas começaram a se afastar, foram saindo. Sabiam que nada podiam contra mim se eu estivesse com o amuleto.

No mesmo dia, Luiz me ligou, mas não atendi. Mandou-me mensagens que não li. Farta dele, desliguei o celular. No dia seguinte, peguei o ônibus para a cidade onde Helga morava, precisava lhe contar o que fizera. Eu não fora digna de seu segredo. Precisava que me perdoasse.

Cheguei à tarde. Da rodoviária, peguei outro ônibus até a casa dela. Cheguei, toquei a campainha. E perguntei por minha prima. Foi então que soube que Helga havia morrido. Naquela manhã.

A princípio, não acreditei. A voz no interfone perguntou quem eu era. Mas eu não consegui dizer mais nada. Uma mulher abriu o portão. Estava vestida de preto, o semblante triste. Ela falou algo sobre um acidente e explicou onde era o velório, estavam todos lá. Ela perguntou se eu entendera. Não lembro o que respondi, mas eu entendi sim. Entendi tudo.
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AGORA, NESTE EXATO INSTANTE, são cinco e dez da manhã. Estou de volta ao meu apartamento, aqui na sala, sentada nesta poltrona, de frente para a grande janela de vidro. O sol surge às minhas costas, do lado oposto – eu tivera o cuidado de escolher um apartamento virado para o poente –, mas já posso ver o céu deste lado começando a clarear. Em poucos minutos será dia.

Trouxe da cozinha mais uma xícara de café. Quero estar bem desperta para o que vai acontecer.

Já ouço o barulho, sinto o mau cheiro… Tento manter-me calma. Mas o peito está para explodir.

Já posso vê-las, as criaturas e seus semblantes enlouquecidos. E os berros, meu Deus, os berros… Não sei como os vizinhos não acordam com todo esse barulho. E minha vizinha, que reclama de qualquer coisinha, como pode não escutar?

Deixei no pratinho de Ramin ração suficiente para uns cinco dias. Espero que alguém se dê conta antes que o bichinho morra de fome.

Elas estão chegando, já me viram. A horda inteira me observa, com seus olhos vermelhos, as expressões de ódio. E a correria faz o apartamento tremer. Como podem não escutar, meu Deus? Os vasos caem, tudo treme! Até Ramin, de sono tão pesado, já veio ver o que está acontecendo…

Elas já estão aqui. Caminham sádicas ao redor da poltrona e o som de seus passos ecoa pela sala. Deus, como são repugnantes! E o cheiro, é impossível respirar… Ramin ficou apavorado com o que viu: arrepiou-se todo e saiu numa carreira pelo corredor, deve ter-se metido embaixo do armário, coitado. Eu bem que poderia tê-lo poupado disso.

Uma delas passa a mão em meu cabelo, a mão ossuda, restos de pele pendurada… O cheiro é insuportável. O asco me sobe à garganta e reprimo o vômito. Estou imóvel, não respiro, olho fixo para frente. Uma delas empunha uma foice. Por que não faz logo o que veio fazer?

Estão todas na sala e riem de mim às gargalhadas. Tento manter um mínimo de dignidade, mas estou tão nervosa que meu queixo treme sem parar… Só queria que tudo acabasse logo.

Então, uma das criaturas puxa meu cabelo e reclina minha cabeça para trás, expondo inteiramente meu pescoço. Sinto meu coração acelerado. Ela aproxima seu rosto do meu e percebo que sua boca espuma, posso sentir o bafo quente. A que empunha a foice se aproxima. Evito seus olhares fechando os olhos, e assim os mantenho.

A criatura puxa meu cabelo um pouco mais. A baba de sua boca pinga sobre meus lábios cerrados e escorre pelos cantos… Eu me esforço para controlar a repulsa. Percebo que suas unhas afiadas tocam meu pescoço. Meu queixo ainda treme. Todas elas tocam meu pescoço, deslizando lentamente suas unhas como se saboreassem um aperitivo.

Duas imagens surgem em minha mente. A primeira é o amuleto enterrado no jardim da praça, a porção de terra a cobri-lo, nossas mechas de cabelo unidas para sempre. A segunda imagem é de Helga, olhando para mim, seus olhos tristes e decepcionados…

As lágrimas começam a escorrer pelo meu rosto. Minha cabeça continua inclinada para trás, meu pescoço exposto. Sem suportar mais o olhar de Helga, eu choro. Choro de olhos fechados e rezo para que tudo termine logo.

Então, num movimento brusco, a criatura faz o que deve fazer.

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Ricardo Kelmer 1997 – blogdokelmer.com

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Este conto integra o livro
Guia de Sobrevivência para o Fim dos Tempos

O que fazer quando de repente o inexplicável invade nossa realidade e velhas verdades se tornam inúteis? Para onde ir quando o mundo acaba? Nos nove contos que formam este livro, onde o mistério e o sobrenatural estão sempre presentes, as pessoas são surpreendidas por acontecimentos que abalam sua compreensão da realidade e de si mesmas e deflagram crises tão intensas que viram uma questão de sobrevivência. Um livro sobre apocalipses coletivos e pessoais.
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Basta enviar e-mail pra rkelmer@gmail.com com seu nome e cidade e dizendo como conheceu o Blog do Kelmer (saiba mais)

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O presente de Mariana

15/11/2008

15nov2008

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A cabocla Mariana, entidade da umbanda, propõe noivado ao moço Dedé. Ela garante estabilidade financeira, mas em troca exige fidelidade absoluta


GuiaDeSobrevivenciaCAPA-1b.

Fantástico, mistério

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Este conto integra o livro Guia de Sobrevivência para o Fim dos Tempos

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O PRESENTE DE MARIANA

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ESTAMOS FAZENDO DEZ ANOS de casados, eu e Mirley. É uma mulher incrível, faço questão de lhe dizer, e continua bela e fascinante como no dia em que a conheci. Para comemorar a data, viemos passar o fim de semana em nossa casa de praia. Trouxemos vinho, velas aromáticas e nossos discos preferidos. Dez anos de alegrias. Dois filhos maravilhosos. Houve dificuldades, é claro, mas nosso amor superou tudo.

Neste momento, Mirley está na praia com as crianças. Preferi ficar aqui na rede da varanda, escutando Julio Iglesias, olhando as árvores do terreno, me deliciando com o vento, o som chacoalhento que ele faz nas folhas. Dez anos. Tantas coisas vividas…

Recordei fatos, sensações, dizeres e pequenos eventos banais. Recordei os dias difíceis, um fraquejando, o outro segurando a barra… Ri sozinho de tantos encontros e desencontros, interessantes acasos e as brigas homéricas que o tempo sempre faz tornarem-se ridículas. Em dez anos de convivência acumula-se o inevitável pó das coisas corriqueiras, eu sei, mas um olhar ainda apaixonado, acredite, é capaz de captar poesia por trás da mais empoeirada rotina.

E foi nesta manhã, aqui na rede a vasculhar o passado, que súbito me veio a lembrança de Mariana. Foi como se um vento soprasse a areia de cima do acontecimento esquecido. Soprou e surgiu Mariana, ela e seu jeito gracioso de menina, o sorriso franco… E eu recordei tudo.
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ERA UMA QUARTA-FEIRA, o dia em que botavam mesa na casa de dona Neide, uma médium conhecida no bairro. Joca perguntara se eu gostaria de conhecer uma sessão de umbanda manauara, eu disse que sim e lá fomos nós.

Eu havia deixado Recife para ir morar em Manaus, onde investira todas as minhas economias num negócio de exportação. Minha namorada Mirley foi comigo, mas infelizmente não se deu com o clima da região e voltou. Eu fiquei, eu e a promessa de que em breve faria algum dinheiro e voltaria também. Mas por aqueles dias, quase um ano depois, os negócios seguiam muito difíceis e o dinheiro e a esperança cada vez mais curtos. As perspectivas não eram nada positivas. E a saudade de Mirley me incomodava demais, feito um espinho encravado na alma. Sem ela ao meu lado, tudo era mais difícil de suportar. Quem sabe então alguma entidade poderia me dar uma mãozinha?

Formou-se a mesa. Estava concorrida a sessão daquela noite, algumas pessoas tiveram de ficar em pé, ao redor. Como era minha primeira vez, deixaram-me sentar, e bem ao lado de dona Neide, a médium, uma senhora muito distinta, corpo moreno e mirrado, cabelos e olhos bem pretos. Num canto da sala ficava a mesa do congá, e nela pude distinguir imagens de Jesus Cristo, são Jorge, são Sebastião, são Cosme e são Damião e a da Virgem. A médium pediu a bênção de Oxalá, do mestre Jesus, da entidade responsável pelo terreiro, que não lembro mais quem era, e de alguns orixás.

Nunca acreditei nessas coisas, acho que se pode explicá-las pela autossugestão. Mas como sou tímido, aquela experiência nova me deixou pouco à vontade. Via as pessoas expondo seus problemas às entidades e aquilo me soava estranho. Vi que umas conversavam ao ouvido delas, reservadamente, mas nem assim arrumei coragem. Sentia-me ridículo só de me imaginar falando ao ouvido de um imaginário preto velho baforando fumaça de fumo de palha, com aquelas pessoas fazendo um fundo sonoro de cantigas meio desafinadas.

Por ocasião da visita das entidades não senti nenhuma mudança mais significativa na médium. Observava-a com discrição, mas atentamente, procurando falhas ou comprovações do além. Uma coisa, porém, me chamou a atenção: foram as sete doses, isso mesmo, sete doses de cachaça que ela tomou durante a visita de um caboclo não-sei-quem. Sem falar nas cervejas que outras entidades pediram e tomaram. Pela lógica, dona Neide, com sua fraca compleição física, terminaria a sessão bastante embriagada.

Foi no fim que Mariana apareceu. Eu já interpelava Joca de canto de olho, demonstrando minha impaciência, quando dona Neide mais uma vez estremeceu, fechou os olhos e entrou em transe. De imediato percebi uma fragrância suave no ambiente, um cheiro de madeira, de mato fresco, e olhei discretamente ao redor para ver quem estaria usando perfume tão agradável.

Todos saudaram a entidade que chegava.

– Salve, Mariana.

– Salve, cabocla Mariana. Bem-vinda.

– Bem-vinda, Mariana do cabelo cor de telha.

– Salve, salve! – dona Neide respondeu, falando para todos. E percebi que sua voz se tornara mais juvenil.

– Quanto tempo que não aparece, Mariana.

– Êta, hoje tá cheio. Gente nova, homem bonito, que bom. Êta, felicidade!

Achei aquilo tudo ridículo e tive vontade de rir. Nesse exato instante, porém, o olhar de dona Neide cruzou com o meu. E tomei um susto. Aquele não era seu olhar, era outro. Estava diferente, mais brilhante, mais vivo. Tentei desviar, incomodado, mas algo me impediu.

– Esse é meu amigo Dedé – Joca tratou logo de me apresentar. – Tá vindo pela primeira vez.

– Tem um olho bonito, ele – dona Neide falou, meio séria, meio sorrindo.

Fiquei sem saber o que dizer, as atenções todas sobre mim. Procurava algo para fazer com as mãos sobre a mesa e evitar os olhares, principalmente o de dona Neide. Era estranho: dona Neide continuava ali, ao meu lado, mas ao mesmo tempo… não parecia ser ela. Não podia ser ela.

– O moço é encabulado, é? – ela perguntou, falando a poucos centímetros de meu rosto. Tinha um olhar meigo, mas nele havia qualquer coisa de dominador. Era algo sutil, mas que prendia meu olhar. Ela tocou meu rosto, sorriu e se virou, buscando os velhos conhecidos da mesa. Respirei aliviado.

Dona Neide, ou Mariana, cumprimentou a todos os presentes. Pude perceber que se demorava mais nos homens. Pediu notícias sobre conhecidos, perguntou sobre um e outro, riu de casos e se divertiu com uma confusão ocorrida dias antes na rua. Eu estava tão sem jeito com a situação que nem lembrei de pedir que também desse uma forcinha nos meus negócios. Contentei-me em admirar seus modos graciosos e seu bom humor. Decididamente, era uma entidade cativante.

Havia algo, porém, que me chamava a atenção desde o início de seus falares. Ela perguntava por seu noivo fulano e seu outro noivo beltrano, e pelo jeito parecia ter muitos noivos. Curioso, cutuquei Joca e ele me explicou, falando baixinho ao meu ouvido:

– A cabocla Mariana não morreu, foi encantada, com 17 anos e meio. Ela é muito bonita. Tem a pele branca e o cabelo ruivo, da cor de telha. E o olho azulzinho. Quando se engraça de um homem, pergunta se ele quer ser noivo dela. Homem que é noivo de Mariana consegue o que quiser nos negócios, sobe rapidinho na vida.

Senti um frio no estômago. Ajeitei-me na cadeira, mais para perto do meu amigo.

– Meu irmão é noivo dela. Tu conheceu a loja dele, Dedé. Pois dois anos atrás não tinha nem onde cair morto. Enriqueceu rapidinho.

– E o que faz ela se engraçar de um homem?

– Ah, não sei. Ela gosta e pronto.

– E o que ela pede em troca?

– Ela é ciumenta, exige exclusividade total. Homem que noiva com Mariana não tem mais mulher nenhuma.

– Mas… como assim?

Alguém fez psiiiiuuu… Sorri um pedido de desculpas e me recompus. Mas o assunto era irresistível.

– Ela estraga qualquer xodó teu – prosseguiu Joca. ‒ Olha aquele ali, o Luís. Noivou com ela. Foi ele quem comprou esta casa e deu de presente pra dona Neide fazer as sessões. Era um pé-rapado e hoje é dono de supermercado. Em compensação nunca mais se ajeitou com mulher nenhuma, Mariana sempre estraga o namoro.

– E não dá pra desfazer o trato?

– Não. Tem que ser muito macho pra noivar com ela.

– Pois eu topava um negócio desse.

– Tu não é doido!

– Se ela me arrumar dinheiro, eu vou embora daqui e ela não me encontra nunca mais. Caso com Mirley e ainda fico com dinheiro no bolso.

– Ela não te deixa sair daqui, Dedé. Tu não sabe o poder dessa menina, tu não sabe.

Já não adiantariam os conselhos. Eu estava tomado por um estranho frenesi. Entrara ali sem acreditar em nada daquilo, mas agora estava disposto a abrir uma brecha em minha incredulidade para a cabocla Mariana se ela fosse realmente capaz de me tirar do sufoco em que eu me encontrava. Quanto à questão dela estragar relacionamentos, bem, isso pra mim já era demais, não dava para acreditar.

– Antes de eu ir embora, queria conversar com este moço aqui… – Mariana virou-se para mim subitamente, me pegando de surpresa. – Não precisa me dizer que a vida não anda fácil pra ti, né? Moço honesto, trabalhador… Vem de longe, né?

Concordei com a cabeça. Era impressionante seu olhar. Eu me sentia envolto por um estranho carinho, uma água morna, aconchegante… um cheiro gostoso de mato fresco…

– Aposto que deixou namorada chorando, não foi?

Sorri encabulado.

– Sabe que a primeira coisa que elas reparam é no teu olho bonito?

Senti as faces quentes de vergonha.

– E sabe olhar do jeito que mulher gosta.

Eu não soube o que dizer.

– Precisa só respeitar um pouquinho mais as entidades. Eu sei que tu é inteligente. Mas com as entidades ninguém pode.

Falou e tocou meu braço. Decididamente não era a mão de dona Neide. Era a mão macia de uma garota.

– Mas eu respeito… – tentei consertar, incomodado pela exposição de meus secretos pensamentos.

– Então respeite mais um pouquinho que não faz mal. Tu sabe muita coisa. Mas ninguém sabe tudo.

Fiquei em silêncio, cada vez mais nervoso. Reprimenda de entidade, quem diria.

– Não sabe, por exemplo, ganhar dinheiro.

Ela falou e riu. E era uma risada de menina.

– Se quiser, Mariana te ensina.

No silêncio que se fez, escutei as batidas de meu coração. O que ela estava mesmo propondo?

– Ele não tá interessado, Mariana – interrompeu Joca, batendo amavelmente em meu ombro.

– Verdade? – ela perguntou, os olhos nos meus. E por um segundo me pareceram azuis.

– Bem… eu…

– Teu caso não é sem jeito. Só umas coisinhas que estão emperradas.

Mariana prosseguiu me olhando, séria. Nesse momento senti algo estranho, uma leve sensação de torpor…

– Pra mim é fácil resolver.

– Em quanto tempo? – eu quis saber. Ela tinha mesmo olhos azuis. Ou eu já estava vendo coisas?

– Mais rápido do que tu imagina.

Eram azuis sim. Um azul límpido, suave, quase uma carícia. Não era impressão – eu via. Não sei como. Mas eu via.

– Simpatizei contigo.

E o cabelo comprido, cor de telha. A pele branquinha, o jeito de menina levada. Não me peça para explicar – eu via.

– Mariana, ele não tá interessado – Joca nos interrompeu novamente.

– Tu continua despeitado, Joca. Só porque eu nunca quis ser tua noiva. Sabia, Dedé? Sabia que ele pediu pra noivar comigo e eu não quis?

Olhei para o meu amigo. Aquilo ele nunca me dissera.

– Faz muito tempo, Mariana. Eu nem sabia o que tava fazendo.

– Por isso que ainda hoje tá nessa situação, pedindo dinheiro emprestado pro irmão. Nunca sabe o que tá fazendo.

– Você sabe que eu tô sem emprego.

Pensei em meu amigo Joca. Era mais velho que eu e já tentara muita coisa na vida. Nada dava certo. Os amigos estavam sempre lhe dando uma força. Parecia ter o estigma dos fracassados. Mariana teria visto isso nele? Por isso não aceitou noivar?

– Dedé? – ela me chamou. – Olhe, semana que vem eu volto. Pense com carinho porque eu só proponho uma vez.

– Isso é verdade – um homem falou por trás de mim. – Se não aceitar, ela não dá outra chance não.

– Espere… – segurei seu braço. – Eu aceito.

Mariana abriu de novo seu sorriso lindo. Seus olhos azuis brilharam. Ela pegou minha mão, pondo-a entre as suas, beijou-as, olhou-me firme e falou:

– Eu ainda não perguntei, moço. Mas pergunto agora. Tu quer ser meu noivo?

Pensei em Mirley, no quanto gostava dela. Ela me perdoaria? A causa pelo menos era justa. Por um segundo senti que meu futuro estava se decidindo naquele exato segundo e que qualquer que fosse a decisão tomada, não haveria como voltar atrás. O olhar de Mariana estava no meu e era como ser ternamente abraçado… Eu já não estava na sala. Estava com ela, caminhando pela floresta, Mariana e seu vestido branco, o belo cabelo ruivo numa trança caindo no ombro, nós dois rindo, nós dois molhando os pés na água fria do igarapé, nossas mãos juntas, os corpos juntinhos, seu rosto perto do meu, mais perto, mais pertinho, sua boca, nossas bocas…

– Ele vai pensar, Mariana – Joca falou, me fazendo voltar à mesa. – Ele vai pensar direitinho e quarta-feira dá a resposta.

Olhei para ele com raiva.

– Então na quarta eu volto aqui pra saber – ela disse. E largou minha mão, virando-se para se despedir de todos.

Logo depois, dona Neide abriu os olhos e, distinta como sempre, sorriu para todos e pediu que uníssemos as mãos numa oração pelos mais necessitados e por todos os pedidos bem-intencionados que foram feitos. Eu a observei com atenção e não percebi nenhum sinal de embriaguez. Ela havia bebido muito naquela hora e meia e sequer apresentava hálito de bebida. Isso me impressionou, é verdade, mas não tanto quanto a transformação de dona Neide: em seu semblante, em sua voz e em seus gestos já não havia mais o mínimo traço da jovem Mariana. A cabocla de olhos azuis e do cabelo cor de telha, se alguma vez estivera ao meu lado, já não se encontrava mais ali.

Enquanto caminhávamos na rua, Joca me falou sobre o episódio do noivado frustrado com Mariana. Confessou que na época teve muita vergonha, mas que agora já havia superado. E, inclusive, agradecia todos os dias por Mariana não tê-lo querido, pois atualmente namorava uma garota ótima.

Eu queria saber sobre Mariana, estava inteiramente curioso.

– Ela se engraçou mesmo de ti. Mas não vai cair na besteira de noivar com ela, Dedé.

– Isso parece papo de noivo desprezado…

– Eu sei que parece. Mas me diga uma coisa: adianta ter muito dinheiro e nunca encontrar alguém pra dar o coração? Adianta?

– Eu vou pra bem longe. Ela não me encontra.

– Olha o que ela disse… Tu tem de ter mais respeito.

– Respeito eu tenho. Só não consigo é acreditar.

Joca riu, bateu em meu ombro e falou:

– Já vi muita gente chegar aqui em Manaus do jeito que tu chegou e voltar diferente, já vi.

E riu gostosamente.

Eu não me importava de voltar diferente, desde que estivesse melhor de vida. As opiniões de Joca não me demoveriam de meus propósitos. Noivaria com Mariana, juntaria um dinheiro e me mandaria dali. Já fazia planos até de como investir a grana. Uma soparia no Recife Antigo. Ou talvez uma fábrica de gelo em Olinda.

– Não vou poder ir contigo na quarta-feira – ele avisou. – Tu vai sozinho fazer essa besteira.

Naqueles dias sonhei duas vezes com Mariana – e a sensação agradável do sonho me acompanhava o resto do dia. Várias vezes senti seu cheiro, na rua, no ônibus… De repente, percebia o aroma gostoso de mato fresco e então sua presença tomava conta do ambiente, e algo em mim tornava-se mais calmo, mais compreensivo, mais doce.

Não tive jeito de conversar sobre isso com ninguém, nem mesmo com Joca. Com Mirley, nem pensar. O que lhe diria, que estava embevecidamente enamorado de uma entidade adolescente? Que pensava nela toda hora e tomava sustos quando via algum cabelo cor de telha passar na rua? Que me pegava desenhando seu nome em papel de guardanapo? Como dizer que noivaria com uma entidade de umbanda por causa de nosso futuro? Não, melhor não dizer. Seria um segredo meu e de Mariana.

Na quarta-feira seguinte eu estava lá de novo. E mais uma vez dona Neide recebeu as entidades. Como na sessão anterior, Mariana foi a última a aparecer. De novo o aroma suave de madeira, de mato fresco. De novo a voz alegre, a graça juvenil. Senti meu carinho por ela se derramando pela mesa. Admirei a beleza dos gestos simples, os mínimos detalhes. Como podia ser tão encantadora? Descobri que gostava dela. Muito.

Depois de conversar com algumas pessoas, Mariana finalmente virou-se para mim. E sorriu. E outra vez seu sorriso me trouxe o frescor de cachoeiras.

– Oi, moço bonito.

– Oi, Mariana.

– Pensou em mim esses dias, não foi?

– Pensei.

– Eu também pensei. Muito.

– Verdade?

Ela parou de sorrir e percebi tristeza em seu olhar.

– Olha, tenho uma coisa pra te dizer. Vem pra cá, vem… – E me chamou para que eu sentasse na cadeira ao seu lado, a que era reservada às conversas de pé-de-ouvido. Enquanto os outros entoavam uma cantiga, ela começou:

– Tu é mais protegido do que eu pensava. Vieram dizer pra eu não me meter contigo.

Não entendi.

– Olha, tu não pode ser meu noivo.

– Por que não? – perguntei surpreso.

– Tem entidade maior que eu, tenho que respeitar. Fiquei muito triste com isso.

Parecia o rompimento de um relacionamento profundo. Senti vontade de chorar em seu colo.

– Tu já tá protegido, moço bonito, não precisa de mim.

– Preciso – insisti. Já havia mandado às favas qualquer vergonha e discrição. – Preciso de você sim, Mariana.

– Vai, segue o teu caminho que é um caminho bom. Esse momento tá difícil, mas tu é homem forte e vai atravessar a floresta. Tenha fé.

De repente, lembrei de Mirley. E senti que não teria mais forças para continuar lutando por nós. Finalmente vencido, impotente. Era o fim.

– Olha, já que tu não pode ser meu noivo, vou te deixar um presente. – E segurou minha mão, me puxando mais para perto. Agora ela sussurrava em meu ouvido. – Pra tu não ter dúvida do tanto que gosto de ti.

Respirei fundo e encontrei forças para perguntar:

– Um presente?

– Se tu não puder vir na quarta-feira que vem, eu vou saber que tu aceitou o presente de Mariana.

Percebi uma lágrima descendo de seu olho.

– E mesmo que tu me esqueça, eu vou estar sempre intercedendo por ti, viu? Agora vai, moço bonito, vai.

E me empurrou delicadamente. Feito isso, despediu-se rápido de todos e se foi. Foi-se o aroma de mato fresco. Foi-se a água morninha.

Saí de lá arrasado, e fui procurar Joca. Não levava mágoa alguma de Mariana, pelo contrário, ela realmente me cativara e por ela eu era todo carinho. Mas não conseguia crer que fizera tantos planos em vão. E a famosa soparia no Recife Antigo? E a bem sucedida fábrica de gelo em Olinda?

– Ela gostou de ti – Joca falou, me consolando. – E se gostou, vai dar um jeito de te ajudar.

Não adiantaram as palavras de Joca. Estava tão triste que não tinha ânimo para nada. Os dias seguintes foram um inferno, mal conseguia levantar da cama. Trabalhar era uma tortura. Até a fome perdi. Estava deprimido e decepcionado com tudo, com a vida e principalmente comigo mesmo por um dia ter acreditado que uma entidade iria dar jeito em minha vida.

Como meu telefone estava cortado e só religariam na segunda-feira, fiz disso desculpa para não falar com Mirley. Não queria que ela percebesse meu estado. Joca me chamou para sair, mas recusei: passaria o fim de semana trancado em casa. Não tinha vontade alguma de ver o mundo lá fora.

Na segunda-feira, o telefone foi religado, e à noite, assim que cheguei do trabalho, ele tocou. Era Mirley. Eu ainda estava triste, mas consegui disfarçar. Ela então disse que uma das filiais da empresa de um amigo seu, no interior de Pernambuco, ficara sem gerente e que ele pensara em mim para ocupar a vaga. Explicou que tentou falar comigo no fim de semana mas não conseguiu, e que talvez seu amigo já houvesse conseguido um substituto. Falei que estava interessado e Mirley me passou o telefone de seu amigo.

Desliguei o telefone ansioso. Seria um castigo enorme perder aquela oportunidade graças a um telefone cortado por falta de pagamento. Liguei para o número anotado, mas deu ocupado. Liguei de novo, liguei outra vez – sempre ocupado. Não consegui sequer levantar do sofá de tão ansioso.

Na centésima tentativa o amigo de Mirley enfim atendeu. Felizmente, a vaga ainda existia. O salário não era tão bom quanto eu gostaria, mas como a filial ficava numa cidade próxima a Recife, eu estaria pertinho de Mirley e poderíamos nos ver todo fim de semana.

Acertamos tudo na mesma noite. Ele tinha pressa e perguntou se podia marcar minha passagem para quarta-feira, dois dias depois.

– Sim, claro – respondi, decidido. – Pode marcar.

Desliguei o telefone e fiquei parado, ainda sem acreditar. Então subitamente entendi. Era o presente de Mariana…

As lágrimas desceram sem que eu pudesse evitar. Ali, no sofá, tive uma crise de choro como jamais tivera. Lembrava de Mariana entre lágrimas agradecidas e só conseguia balbuciar: obrigado, obrigado…

Na quarta-feira, no aeroporto, despedi-me de Joca e pedi que agradecesse por mim a Mariana. E que dissesse que eu jamais a esqueceria. Ele riu:

– Precisa dizer não. Ninguém esquece Mariana.

Na quarta-feira, durante a viagem, eu só pensava na sessão. Naquele momento, certamente estavam todos à mesa, olhando para as entidades no rosto de dona Neide. Sentia-me bem, confiante, a alma leve. Sabia, com toda a certeza que se pode ter, que aquele voo era o mais protegido do planeta.

No aeroporto de Recife, peguei minha mala e fui procurar por Mirley. Enquanto a aguardava, senti um aroma familiar, um frescor gostoso…

De repente, o toque em meu ombro. Meu coração gelou. Virei-me devagar, já sabendo o que veria. E vi. O cabelo avermelhado, a pele clara, os olhos salpicando azuis…

Nesse instante, um rio de águas mornas passou por mim e eu me deixei levar pelas águas envolventes, o cheiro fresco de mato, a contínua melodia da floresta… Minha alma foi tomada por uma doce sensação de arrebatamento, e enquanto dois lindos olhos azuis me acariciavam, tudo que eu conseguia fazer era sorrir, sorrir…

– Desculpe – ela disse, sem jeito. – Pensei que era outra pessoa.

– Como?… – falei, voltando ao aeroporto, sentindo novamente os pés no chão. A garota aguardou que eu dissesse algo, mas nada encontrei para dizer. Ela acenou para algumas pessoas mais adiante e depois sorriu para mim:

– Boa sorte. Tchau.

Fiquei parado, vendo a garota se afastar e correr para seus amigos. Não sabia o que pensar. Nesse instante, escutei meu nome e vi Mirley se aproximando. Confuso, ainda procurei pela garota ruiva, mas ela já havia sumido na multidão. Mirley me abraçou forte e chorou em meu ombro. Quase um ano que não nos víamos, tanta saudade…

– Que cara estranha é essa, Dedé?

– Foi a viagem… – respondi – Mas tá tudo bem. Já jantou?

Fomos embora rapidamente. No dia seguinte, eu já assumiria a gerência da filial, havia muito trabalho à frente. Uma vida nova me esperava, dessa vez bem perto da mulher que eu amava.

E quanto à garota do aeroporto, já sei, já sei. Você certamente está pensando que eu acho que aquela era Mariana. Pois era sim.

Não tente me dissuadir. Nem me peça lógica, eu não a tenho nem para mim. Basta-me a certeza, pura e agradecida, que ainda hoje trago aqui no peito, de que a menina faceira que de repente sorriu para mim no aeroporto de Recife era Mariana sim, a cabocla Mariana do cabelo cor de telha, encantada aos 17 anos e meio, e que naquela noite de quarta-feira aproveitou uma folguinha na sessão de dona Neide para me ver pela última vez e, ao seu modo, me desejar felicidades.

É esta a história. Num momento de angústia e desamparo, eu estive disposto a ser noivo de Mariana e lhe desafiar os poderes. Ela me queria também. Mas o destino não quis assim. Mariana então, em sinal de amor, me concedeu um presente, uma oportunidade única de mudar para melhor a minha vida – oportunidade que agarrei com todas as forças.

É esta a história de Mariana. Que até hoje trago no peito, banhada em água morna, no cheiro do mato fresco. Nos primeiros meses, ainda impressionado com tudo que acontecera, eu lembrava de Mariana todo dia e em silêncio agradecia. Aos poucos, fui esquecendo, absorvido pelo trabalho intenso, a família que crescia. À medida que minha vida se equilibrava, Mariana foi se tornando uma lembrança cada vez mais distante, até que sumiu. Talvez ela já não precisasse mais interceder por mim, minha vida finalmente seguia seu rumo natural.

Hoje, porém, dez anos depois, aqui na casa de praia, ela voltou em minha lembrança. E em meu coração. E me fez lembrar de tudo outra vez.
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MIRLEY ACABA DE CHEGAR da praia com as crianças. Elas trazem um balde lotado de conchas. Laís diz que vai plantá-las no quintal para que nasça um pé de concha. Filipe repreende a irmã por acreditar nessas besteiras que os adultos dizem. Sento na beirada da rede e pergunto se eles apanharam sozinhos todas aquelas conchas ou se quem teve o trabalho foi a mãe deles. Filipe diz que uma moça os ajudou. Mirley diz que as crianças adoraram a tal garota de um jeito que ela jamais viu antes. Enquanto despeja as conchas no chão, Filipe me diz:

– Ela era bonita, pai. O olho da cor desse balde.

Olho para o balde azul, já sentindo algo estranho.

– E o cabelo vermelho, daquela cor.

Antes de Laís apontar para o telhado da casa, eu já havia entendido. Sinto meu coração gelar, um súbito vácuo na alma. Seguro-me à rede como se segurasse a vontade de sair correndo em direção à praia.

– A pele tão branca, Dedé… – Mirley diz, ligando a ducha do jardim para o banho das crianças. – Não sei como aquela moça aguenta ficar nesse sol quente.

Levanto da rede sentindo uma coisa no peito, uma alegria estranha, uma melancolia, uma excitação, tudo misturado. Caminho em silêncio até a sala. No balcão, sirvo uma dose de uísque e viro de uma vez. O ardor faz meus olhos marejarem. Um disfarce inútil para as lágrimas que não consigo controlar.

 

 

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Ricardo Kelmer 1998 – blogdokelmer.com

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GuiaDeSobrevivenciaCAPA-1bEste conto integra o livro
Guia de Sobrevivência para o Fim dos Tempos

O que fazer quando de repente o inexplicável invade nossa realidade e velhas verdades se tornam inúteis? Para onde ir quando o mundo acaba? Nos nove contos que formam este livro, onde o mistério e o sobrenatural estão sempre presentes, as pessoas são surpreendidas por acontecimentos que abalam sua compreensão da realidade e de si mesmas e deflagram crises tão intensas que viram uma questão de sobrevivência. Um livro sobre apocalipses coletivos e pessoais.

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vtcapa21x308-01Este conto integra o livro
Vocês Terráqueas – Seduções e perdições do feminino

Ciganas, lolitas, santas, prostitutas, espiãs, sacerdotisas pagãs, entidades do além, mulheres selvagens – em todas as personagens, o reflexo do olhar masculino fascinado, amedrontado, seduzido… Em cada história, o brilho numinoso dos arquétipos femininos que fazem da mulher um ícone eterno de beleza, sensualidade, mistério… e inspiração.


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Saiba mais sobre a cabocla Mariana, os aspectos psicológicos e arquetípicos de sua crença: Mariana quer noivar

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Seja Leitor Vip e ganhe:

Acesso aos Arquivos Secretos
Descontos, promoções e sorteios exclusivos
Basta enviar e-mail pra rkelmer@gmail.com com seu nome e cidade e dizendo como conheceu o Blog do Kelmer (saiba mais)

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Comentarios01COMENTÁRIOS
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01- Vc sabe que sou apaixonada por Mariana… Bateu comigo e foi a história que mais me pegou, do único livro seu que li. Saudades… Ana Karla Dubiela, Fortaleza-CE – jan2005

02- Caro Ricardo, Gostaria de fazer um comentário sobre o seu conto da cabocla Mariana, que vc diz ser uma entidade de umbanda. Gostaria de lhe informar que as entidades de umbanda, principalmente os caboclos, que são orixás menores não fazem este tipo de exigência dos filhos de fé da umbanda, ao contrário são entidades elevadíssimas. Este tipo de pedido saõ de entidades provinientes dos catimbós, macumbas e outros rituais que lidam com magia negra e pesada. Faço este comentário pois a umbanda sofre muito preconceito por ser confundida com este tipo de coisa. Inclusive seria muito rico para seus conhecimentos que vc lesse as obras sobre umbanda esotérica de Matta e Silva e Rivas Neto. O seu conto prejudica a corrente astral de umbanda pois ajuda a alimentar nos leigos o tabu e o preconceito contra essa religião tão bela. Gostaria de solicitar que vc não citasse a umbanda nele. Atenciosamente. Clícia Karine, Crateús-CE – jan2005

03- Olá amigo, estou escrevendo de Fortaleza, sobre este texto fabuloso, gostaria que soubesse o quanto eu me sentio atraído pela historia pra ser sincero eu passaria o dia todo lendo e não cansaria. Abraços de seu amigo, fã, etc. Eudes Martins, Fortaleza-CE – mar2005

04- Acima de tudo, pela licença de ler completa a história. Depois, porque ela é belíssima! Não concordo com a leitora que falou que era uma falta de respeito ás entidades. Acho que se não é uma aventura verdadeira meresceria ser… Não gostei, Ricardo. Adorei! Parabéns e que a cabocla Mariana sempre traga sucesso na sua vida. Afinal, quem ficou apaixonado com ela uma vez e escreveu essa bela homenagem tão cheia de sensibilidade e meiguice deveria gozar da proteção da encantada. Abraço e mais uma vez, muito obrigado pela sua gentileza. PS.- desculpe-me o meu português, por favor. Milton, Montevidéu-Uruguai – abr2005

05- Já estava curiosa a respeito do final.Pura ficção, será?Acho que os leitores sempre se indagam sobre isso.Até pq, vivenciei coisas tão estranhas qt essa. Talvez, descobrir nas histórias uma possibilidade de verdade,nos faça mais “íntimos” do autor. Ah..outra coisa: adoro ler td q tem a ver com Recife.Morei lá por 4 anos e costumo dizer que minha alma é recifense.Vou lá pelo menos duas vezes ao ano, rever os amigos e o meu mar de todas as cores. Mônica Burkle Ward, Niterói-RJ – mai2005

06- Olá Ricardo! Bem gostei bastante do texto e gostaria de saber até que ponto a história é veridica ou mesmo se a sua pessoa já esteve em contato com a entidade pois quem a conhece sabe que a atração pela entidade é verídica, eu mesmo quando a encontro na casa de um amigo meu aqui em São Paulo me sinto atraido, é impressionante o poder de sedução desta entidade cá entre nós é a mulher que todo homem gostaria de ter. D. Mariana como conhecemos aqui em São Paulo é muito bela! É a estrela do tambor de mina aqui de São Paulo. Vinícius de Almeida, São Paulo-SP – mai2005

07- oi , me chamo regina vilhena, sou do para debelem mesmo, e no momneto estou no japao, acredito em tudo qeu lir, pois conehco marina de longos anos e ate hoje nao consigo fazer nada em minah vida sem a orientação dela, sabia sua historia muit bonita, sau fe tbm, sabe caro amigo neste exato momneto eu estou passando aki por muita dificulada sem trablaho sem casa para morar, mas a minah fe em deus em primeiro lugar e em mariana nao perco, tenho comigo ja vairas historia de maraina que ja aconteceu comigo, coisas que ela me disse qeu aconteceria e aconteceu de verdade, sabe provas , coisas reaais ate essa minah viagem apra ca foi ela qeu me mandou sei qeu to pado mento pois como ela me me mandou um recado essa semana . me disse asssim qeu tem certo sofrimentos que ela nao pode evitar. agora to muito feliz em ter lido sua historia e espero nao perder o contato com vc. se quzier pode me adicionar no seu msn ok fica com e cabocla mariana dos anjos perreira . assim que eu chamo para ela proteja nos dois. Regina Vilhena, Japão – mar2006

08- Só tenho um comentário a fazer : Adorei sua estória sobre a Mariana!Um grande abraço! Sidiany Colares Alencar – Fortaleza-CE – abr2006

09- Estou acompanhando o conto da cabocla Mariana. Não sou entidade da umbanda mas também trago sorte e prosperidade pra quem eu gosto e exijo fidelidade, que não precisa ser absoluta, basta que eu não saiba dos acontecidos. Não me importo muito em ser traída, pior é ser deixada. rsrsrs. Marcia Sucupira, Fortaleza-CE – mai2006

10- Li o conto da Cabloca Mariana, primeiro achei longo, mas nao consegui parar de ler…. bom, muito bom. Fabiana Vasconcelos, Boston-EUA – abr2006

11- O que mais gostei da Mariana e aquela mistura balanceada de realidade com ficcao, aquela pulguinha atras da orelha para as coisas que nao sabemos explicar, que sao dificies de acreditar, mas estao la… e so dar uma chance pra elas acontecerem. Fabiana Vasconcelos, Boston-EUA – mai2006

12- eu li o conto! Criativo… abraços. Priscila Saboya, Fortaleza-CE – jan2010

13- tive o prazer de conhecer o Blog do Kelmer quando pesquisava sobre a cabocla Mariana e me deparei com o conto O Presente de Mariana….lindo, encantador. Danyela Freitas, Belém-PA – mar2011

14- Oi, Ricardo. Tô sem net em casa , mas vim numa lan so pra te falar umas coisas…. Desde ontem eu tava toda depre( nao sei por que/ na verdade, sei, mas nao vou falar aqui…rsrsrsr), acordei e tirei o “vocês Terráqueas” da estante e fui ver os textos que ainda nao havia lido…. voce me arrepiou com “presente de Mariana” , e pelo arrepio, pensei: nao lembro quanto paguei nesse livro, mas valeu a pena!!!! Irlane Alves, Fortaleza-CE – jul2011

15- conto do livro VOCÊS TERRAQUEAS legal. Weslen Queiroz, Juazeiro do Norte-CE – ago2011

16- Adorei este conto, demais! Ligia Eloy, Lisboa-Portugal – ago2011

17- Meu amigo, consegui enxergar várias metáforas e relacionar Mariana como um feminino idealizado no contexto da vida dele…..o momento de lhe dar com as dificuldades e a escolha de Mariana possivelmente como uma fuga…e ao mesmo tempo aquilo que ela representou e manifestou na vida dele como uma forma verdadeira do amor! Sem esperar algo em troca e simplesmente dar! O momento final do aeroporto e das conchas foi triunfal! O sentimento dele daquilo que nunca foi realizado mas, sentido….uma emoção que sobrepujaram as palavras!! Por aí meu amigo! Parabéns! Esse conto me tocou bastante! Cibele Cortez, Fortaleza-CE – dez2012

 


Pequeno incidente em Hukat

15/11/2008

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Integrante do Projeto Sapiens descobre irregularidades comprometendo a evolução da espécie humana e se envolve em rebelião contra Deus, o psicomputador.

Ficção científica, suspense

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(Este conto integra o livro Guia de Sobrevivência para o Fim dos Tempos)

Música sugerida para leitura: Enya – Cursum perficio

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PEQUENO INCIDENTE EM HUKAT

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ENTREI NA SALA DO ALTO COMANDO e fui recebido por dois diretores e pela própria Wakl Egkonie, a diretora geral do Projeto Sapiens.

– Prazer em conhecê-lo, monitor Yehdu Arhkan – ela disse, apertando minha mão, o semblante sério. – Primeiramente, parabéns por seu trabalho no Departamento de RPs. Funcionários como o senhor dignificam o nome da companhia.

– Obrigado, senhora.

Em quatro mil e quinhentos anos, poucas oportunidades eu tivera de ver pessoalmente Wakl Egkonie, a diretora geral do projeto de monitoramento de novas espécies a cargo da companhia InterPlan. E a cada vez ela parecia mais durona.

– O senhor sabe que há algum tempo Deus tenta reparar a instabilidade em seu sistema operacional, sem êxito. Achamos que pode ajudar-nos a resolver o problema.

Fiquei surpreso. Sim, como monitor do Departamento de Realidades Paralelas, as RPs, eu tinha conhecimento do problema da instabilidade de Deus. Mas como eu poderia ajudá-lo?

Construído em Vehz, o planeta de onde viemos, Deus era o mais avançado psicomputador de sua geração e o grande trunfo da InterPlan em sua luta para tornar-se a melhor companhia de monitoramento de novas espécies da galáxia. Um psicomputador é o centro vital de um projeto de monitoramento, capaz de comunicação psíquica com os integrantes do projeto e com a espécie monitorada, além de monitorar as realidades paralelas do cinturão dimensional do planeta e gerenciar a comunicação com a sede da companhia no planeta natal. No Projeto Sapiens, Deus fazia tudo isso com velocidade e precisão jamais alcançadas por nenhum psicomputador de nenhuma companhia, o que enchia de orgulho todos os vehzys.

O objetivo de um projeto de monitoramento é desenvolver uma espécie dominante em determinado planeta, controlando sua evolução psíquica para garantir que ela sobreviva às dificuldades naturais e possa, no futuro, estabelecer contato com espécies de outros planetas e integrar a União Galática. A espécie escolhida por Deus foi um hominídeo que duzentos mil anos atrás começava a destacar-se no planeta Terra por sua notável capacidade de adaptação: o Homo sapiens.

Junto com a primeira leva de integrantes do Alto Comando e da equipe de monitoramento, Deus foi enviado à base terráquea do projeto pelo portal dimensional que liga Vehz à Terra. A conexão com o Homo sapiens foi estabelecida pela captação dos registros psíquicos de uma amostra que representava os grupos mais evoluídos da espécie. A partir daí Deus poderia, sem que os humanos jamais se dessem conta disso, monitorar e influenciar a evolução psíquica da espécie até o prazo final do projeto, quando a base seria desativada e Deus e os vehzys voltariam para casa.

– Será uma honra poder ajudar, diretora. Mas como eu faria isso?

– Recentemente, Deus descobriu que Rehf Icul pode ser o motivo da instabilidade.

Outra surpresa. Rehf Icul era o desertor mais perigoso do projeto. E até mil anos atrás era meu melhor amigo.

– Como é de seu conhecimento, monitor, ainda não capturamos Rehf Icul e seu bando de rebeldes porque, por conta da instabilidade, Deus não consegue localizar a RP onde eles estão. Se Rehf for mesmo a causa da instabilidade, é mais um motivo para que seja urgentemente capturado. Como o senhor era seu melhor amigo, sabemos que pode ajudar-nos a localizá-lo.

Então era isso. Pretendiam usar meus registros psíquicos para capturar o maior traidor do Projeto Sapiens. Eu sabia o que poderia acontecer a Rehf se o pegassem: seria novamente preso, julgado por alta traição e condenado à pena máxima, ou seja, todos os seus registros psíquicos seriam transferidos para uma minhoca sintética que ficaria eternamente exposta no Museu do Monitoramento da companhia, em Vehz. A autoconsciência de Rehf seria mantida, o que significa que ele continuaria para sempre pensando como Rehf, mas estaria limitado às possibilidades físicas da minhoca. A pena máxima era a forma com que a InterPlan punia aos que traíam o projeto ‒ um duro castigo, é verdade, mas necessário e devidamente autorizado pelo Tribunal das Monitorias.

Eu e Rehf nos tornamos amigos ainda crianças, em Vehz, e foi por meio dele que passei também a me interessar por projetos de monitoramento. Para nossa felicidade, entramos juntos para a InterPlan, que já comandava o Projeto Sapiens. Seu profundo conhecimento em psicologia de novas espécies rapidamente despertou o interesse de outras companhias, mas a InterPlan soube mantê-lo, levando-o para o seu Alto Comando. Fomos transferidos para a base terráquea na mesma época, há três mil anos, eu como monitor no Departamento de RPs e ele na direção do Departamento Humano, substituindo o antigo diretor que se aposentara. Entretanto, Rehf começou a discordar de algumas decisões de Deus e perdeu o cargo. Como insistia em discordar e divulgar suas ideias subversivas, foi diagnosticado com a Síndrome de Ohj e passou a receber tratamento psiquiátrico. Um dia, durante uma visita que lhe fiz no hospital, ele me disse que se Deus prosseguisse errando, logo a humanidade exterminaria a si própria, o que poderia significar o fim do projeto e um imenso prejuízo para a InterPlan, além do desperdício de uma espécie com excelente potencial. Aquilo obviamente era uma blasfêmia, mas relevei sua opinião, pois era evidente que ainda não estava curado, e respondi-lhe que não se preocupasse, pois Deus era infalível e sabia o que fazia. Foi a última vez que o vi, pois no dia seguinte ele foi enviado para a prisão de segurança máxima na RP de Groor, onde os presos ficam incomunicáveis, e então entendi que seu caso era mais grave do que eu imaginava. Por medida de precaução, junto com ele foram enviados todos os pacientes que também sofriam da síndrome, doze ao todo, entre homens e mulheres. Oitocentos anos depois, Rehf liderou uma rebelião e, conhecedor dos portais que interligam as RPs, fugiu de Groor com os outros doze e desde então estão desaparecidos. Foi assim que perdi meu grande amigo.

Sim, é verdade que nos últimos tempos os humanos nos deram alguns sustos: fanatismos religiosos, guerras nucleares e desequilíbrio ecológico fizeram várias vezes o alarme soar na base. Isso, porém, deve-se a uma tendência autodestrutiva da espécie, existente desde antes do projeto, mas que, graças a Deus, está sob controle.

– Somos cientes dos riscos que envolvem as missões de emergência, monitor Yehdu, esta em especial – prosseguiu a diretora geral, olhando-me firme nos olhos. – Por isso estamos dispostos a recompensá-lo à altura. O senhor nos leva ao vehzy traidor e em troca nós lhe concedemos a imediata graduação em monitoramento. E quando retornar da missão, terá também a direção do Departamento de RPs.

Por essa eu jamais esperaria. Quando alguém entra para um projeto de monitoramento, sabe que terá muito serviço pelos próximos cinco mil anos – um quarto do tempo médio de vida de um vehzy – antes de se aposentar. E sabe também que chegará no máximo ao cargo de monitor graduado, pois a direção dos departamentos é exclusiva do Alto Comando das companhias. O que a diretora Wakl Egkonie me propunha era algo inédito.

– Então, o que nos diz?

– Preciso pensar, senhora.

Para participar de missões de emergência era necessário ter os registros psíquicos totalmente monitorados por Deus. Isso significava que enquanto eu estivesse em missão, Ele acompanharia todas as minhas experiências sensoriais e mentais, ou seja, veria o que eu veria, escutaria e saberia de todos os meus pensamentos, sentimentos, sensações e intuições.

– Decida até amanhã. – Ela fez sinal e dois guardas se aproximaram. – Eles cuidarão de sua segurança, monitor Yehdu. E lembre-se: este é um assunto de segurança máxima.

Saí da sala, acompanhado dos guardas, e me dirigi ao prédio dos alojamentos. Entrei em meu aposento e os guardas posicionaram-se do lado de fora, um de cada lado da porta.

Sim, o Alto Comando poderia ter me chamado logo após a fuga de Rehf, duzentos anos atrás. Mas não o fizera por achar que Deus logo localizaria o fugitivo – o que estranhamente nunca aconteceu. Certamente, consideraram bastante a ideia de chamar um simples monitor a participar de tão sério assunto e, ainda mais, de oferecer-lhe um cargo no Alto Comando. Definitivamente, a situação era de urgência.

Eu entrara no projeto quatro mil e quinhentos anos antes, ainda em Vehz. Em quinhentos anos eu me aposentaria e voltaria para casa, para minha família e os amigos que lá deixei, e viveria até o fim da vida com comodidade. Porém, aposentando-me como diretor do Departamento de RPs eu seria quase um rei em Vehz. Isso compensava o alto risco da missão?
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NAQUELA NOITE, sozinho em meu aposento, repassei algumas informações importantes. Se eu aceitasse a missão, não poderia esquecer nenhum detalhe.

Avatares. Todos os vehzys que trabalham na base dos projetos são avatares de si mesmos, ou seja, a autoconsciência de cada um fica temporariamente instalada num corpo físico criado à semelhança do da espécie monitorada, enquanto o corpo original permanece na sede da companhia, no planeta natal, em repouso total induzido. Se o avatar morre, o corpo original também morre, e vice-versa. Na base trabalham simultaneamente centenas de funcionários, cientistas e soldados, que se aposentam após cinco mil anos de serviço e são substituídos. Eles não têm qualquer contato com a espécie monitorada, mas os relatórios produzidos pelo psicomputador permitem o acompanhamento detalhado da evolução psíquica da espécie.

Realidades paralelas. Elas fazem parte do cinturão dimensional dos planetas e, assim como a base do projeto, não ocupam a mesma dimensão espacial do planeta, o que impede que elas sejam descobertas pela espécie monitorada. Podem ser pequenas como um asteroide ou grandes como a lua terráquea, e nelas a vida se desenvolve como no planeta, com algumas variações evolutivas em determinadas espécies. Instalada em alguma RP, a base é o centro de operações dos projetos.

Portais. As RPs do cinturão do planeta, inclusive a base, são interligadas por portais dimensionais, que se formam espontaneamente e funcionam como túneis de teletransporte em missões científicas ou de busca de desertores. Há portais na Terra, mas apenas a base tem acesso a eles, o que impede que os desertores que habitam as RPs teletransportem-se para o planeta, tenham contato com os humanos e causem ainda mais problemas.

Síndrome de Ohj. É uma doença típica dos projetos de monitoramento e acontece quando o monitor apega-se de tal forma à espécie monitorada que tem comprometida sua isenção profissional, chegando inclusive a envolver-se em atos de indisciplina. A síndrome é tratada no hospital da base, geralmente com êxito. O caso de Rehf era especial porque ele fora um integrante do Alto Comando e tinha informações importantes sobre o projeto – capturá-lo era uma questão de honra para a InterPlan. Apesar de não ter qualquer contato com Rehf desde sua ida para a prisão em Groor, eu lembrava sempre dele e lamentava que houvesse adoecido tão seriamente. Eu admirava sua coragem, mas ele era um traidor e merecia ser punido.

Deus podia contar comigo, como sempre. Eu aceitava a missão.
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A SESSÃO DE RASTREAMENTO dos meus registros demorou alguns minutos, e o resultado indicou que Rehf muito provavelmente encontrava-se em Hukat, uma RP para a qual jamais houvera qualquer tipo de missão. O plano inicial era invadir Hukat, e eu iria junto com a Legião de Combate, mas ele mostrou-se arriscado demais, pois Deus não possuía nenhum dado sobre a RP. Por esse motivo, Ele decidiu que eu deveria ir antes. E sozinho.

Senti um calafrio de medo. Eu não era um soldado, e sim um funcionário burocrático do Departamento de RPs, que trabalhava organizando relatórios e jamais estivera fora da base. Agora, porém, teria que ir a uma RP desconhecida, entrando sozinho para não provocar suspeitas, usando falsa identidade, e deveria aproximar-me de Rehf o bastante para que Deus localizasse sua posição exata e autorizasse a invasão pela Legião de Combate. E eu teria que fazer isso em no máximo doze horas porque depois, por se tratar de uma RP ainda desconhecida, Deus perderia minha localização. Era uma missão muito perigosa, mas Deus tinha Sua atenção focada em mim e isso me deixava mais tranquilo. E muito honrado por servi-lo.

Pouco antes de partir na missão Hukat, recebi as honras da graduação diretamente de Wakl Egkonie, como ela prometera. Eu era agora um monitor graduado e receberia a direção do Departamento de RPs ao retornar. Sim, eu tinha plena noção no que estava envolvido: em toda a história do Projeto Sapiens jamais houvera tamanho empenho numa missão de captura.

Fui enviado a Hukat no início da manhã. A base agora encontrava-se em alerta total e Deus acompanhava todos os meus pensamentos e ações. Felizmente, cruzar o portal não demorou mais que alguns segundos. Infelizmente, porém, caí num deserto, no meio de uma tempestade de areia tão forte que escurecia o céu. Perigo.

Tarefa primeira: recuperar-se da tontura que vem após a entrada numa RP. Mas com aquela tempestade, como descansar? Após algumas tentativas, pus-me de pé. Situação de emergência, nível 3. Procurei proteger os olhos, o nariz e os ouvidos, mas era imensa a quantidade de areia. Emergência nível 4. Tonto e com a respiração cada vez mais difícil, tentei caminhar, mas a areia já me cobria as pernas. Emergência máxima. Tudo indicava morte iminente e fracasso total da missão.

Então vi o dorht à minha frente, essa espécie de ema peluda e alada, utilizada para transporte aéreo em algumas RPs. O dorht dobrou suas grandes pernas, abaixou-se e dele saltou um vulto negro.

– A não ser que saiba respirar sob a areia, aconselho-o a vir comigo agora.

Era uma mulher. Ela ajudou-me a subir no dorth e, com as forças que me restavam, abracei-a firme pela cintura. O animal esticou as pernas, correu alguns passos e levantou voo, enquanto eu fechava os olhos para protegê-los da areia. Tudo que eu desejava naquele momento era sair dali e respirar normalmente.

Alguns minutos depois alcançamos um oásis livre da tempestade e a mulher me ajudou a chegar a uma tenda, onde deitei numa esteira e desmaiei. Acordei uma hora depois. Sentada na areia à entrada da tenda, a mulher me observava. Vestia-se toda de preto, com calça, botas e uma túnica curta, além de um turbante que lhe cobria o rosto, deixando à mostra apenas seus olhos verdes. Ela me estendeu um cantil com água.

– Beba. Precisa se hidratar.

– Onde estou? – perguntei, sentando. Sentia-me bem melhor, mas um pouco confuso.

– Posto avançado do deserto de Hukat. Meu nome é Kirtl.

Deserto de Hukat… Aos poucos recobrei os registros, o portal, o voo no dorth… Missão Hukat. Registros intactos.

– Seu rosto me parece familiar – ela prosseguiu. – Como se chama?

Enquanto bebia a água, reparei que ela portava na cintura uma pistola de laser, de uso exclusivo das forças de segurança de Groor. Certamente, era um dos doze fugitivos. Perigo.

– Sakiz. – Meu nome escolhido para a missão. – Sou monitor do Departamento de RPs e acabei de desertar.

– Como posso ter certeza?

– Rehf Icul me conhece. Pode levar-me até ele?

– Por enquanto, não. Terá que ficar aqui comigo.

– Por quê?

– Estamos em alerta máximo. Deus planeja invadir Hukat.

Contive-me para não demonstrar surpresa. Como sabiam daquela informação? Eu precisava fazer com que me levasse até Rehf. E agora só havia um meio.

Saltei e joguei-me sobre ela, derrubando-a no chão. Rolamos até que eu ficasse por cima. No entanto, quando eu me preparava para tomar sua pistola, ela tocou-me o pescoço e imediatamente senti uma terrível câimbra nos músculos da garganta. Sem conseguir respirar, tive de largá-la e fiquei no chão, contorcendo-me de dor. Ela me algemou e foi sentar novamente à entrada da tenda.

– Devia agradecer por sua vida, monitor. Não escaparia daquela tempestade.

Sentei, respirando com dificuldade. Enquanto me recuperava, calculei que Rehf devia estar ali desde a fuga de Groor. Certamente, aprenderam a lutar na prisão. Talvez possuíssem mais armas trazidas de lá.

– Por que o Alto Comando o enviou para cá?

Continuei calado. Precisava rapidamente descobrir um meio de convencê-la a me levar a Rehf.

– Respeitarei seu direito de não falar, monitor, mas lembre-se que agora é meu prisioneiro. E que da próxima vez não serei tão boazinha.

– Ainda pode se entregar, Kirtl. E Deus lhe assegurará um julgamento justo.

– Se confia tanto assim na justiça de Deus, é porque realmente não sabe o que acontece nesse projeto.

A síndrome de Ohj. Ela fazia as pessoas perderem o respeito por Deus. Era lamentável.

– Por oitocentos anos fui prisioneira em Groor, esperando um julgamento que nunca veio. Oitocentos anos forçada a trabalhos pesados, e sendo obrigada a me prostituir para ter o que comer. Onde está a justiça de Deus?

Aquilo era uma blasfêmia.

– Se o que diz fosse verdade, Deus teria alertado o Alto Comando sobre tais abusos e…

– E o quê? Enviaria os Anjos para lá? – ela riu. – Os Anjos eram frequentadores assíduos de Groor, monitor. Eu me prostituía justamente para eles.

Anjos era um apelido desdenhoso para o Alto Comando. Se aquilo fosse verdade, então as informações provenientes de Groor estariam sendo filtradas antes de chegarem ao Departamento de RPs, e por isso eu as desconhecia. Evidentemente, era muito mais provável que ela estivesse mentindo.

– Os Anjos eram muito indelicados, monitor, faziam coisas detestáveis. É uma pena que meus irmãos vehzys tenham se transformado em meros registros ambulantes, sem sentimento. Mas a culpa não é só deles: a frieza e a arrogância de Deus, esse Deus que agora me escuta por meio de você, contaminaram todo o projeto, a ponto de esquecerem que ele é apenas um psicomputador. Na base, quando se fala seu nome, todos só faltam abaixar a cabeça.

Deus, frio e arrogante? Como ela podia falar assim? Eram termos tão infames que a simples menção me dava ímpetos de atacá-la.

– Monitorando a psique humana com essa prepotência, o psicomputador do projeto está levando a grande maioria dos humanos a crer em apenas um deus. E, além disso, a chamá-lo por seu próprio nome: Deus. Acha que isso é apenas coincidência?

Ela estava deliberadamente me provocando. Eram argumentos estúpidos, mas eu não podia perder o controle.

– Se os abusos que você relatou são verdadeiros, isso significa que Deus nos enganou a todos. Quem merece mais crédito, o mais avançado psicomputador da galáxia ou uma traidora do projeto?

– Acha então que inventei a história?

Não respondi, era inútil. Nesse instante, ela ergueu a túnica e começou a abrir o colete de couro que vestia por baixo. Perigo. Estado de alerta. Seu seio direito surgiu para meus olhos. O outro, no entanto, não apareceu. Em seu lugar estava uma enorme cicatriz, muito feia.

O asco me subiu à garganta e engoli seco. Seu seio parecia ter sido extirpado. Desviei o olhar. Aquilo não era verdade. Ela estava tentando me iludir.

– Apesar da delicadeza dos Anjos, monitor, hoje me sinto mais inteira que quando cheguei em Groor – ela disse enquanto fechava o colete. – Acredite nisso.
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AQUELA SITUAÇÃO não podia continuar. Deus perderia minha localização em algumas horas e a missão seria abortada. Eu tinha que encontrar Rehf de qualquer maneira. E logo.

– Kirtl?

Ela estava do lado de fora da tenda, dando água para o dorth.

– Preciso ver Rehf.

– Impossível.

– Você certamente sabe que manter prisioneiro um monitor significa…

– Significa uma honra para mim – ela falou, me interrompendo. – Você é a nossa primeira visita oficial em Hukat. A propósito, sei que não foi sincero quanto ao seu nome. Como realmente se chama?

Já não havia motivos para continuar mentindo.

– Yehdu.

Ela virou-se, surpresa.

– Yehdu Arhkan? Departamento de RPs?

– Sim.

– Bem que seu rosto não me era estranho! – ela exclamou, enquanto entrava rapidamente na tenda. Para minha surpresa, abriu as algemas e soltou minhas mãos. – Venha, vou levá-lo a quem procura.

– Sério? Ao menos explique essa mudança tão brusca.

– Saberá logo.

Ela caminhou rumo ao dorht e eu a segui. Antes de montarmos, ela avisou, encostando o dedo em meu pescoço:

– Ainda é meu prisioneiro, monitor. Não esqueça.

Nenhuma vantagem em provocar conflito, afinal ela me levaria a Rehf. Porém, se ela sabia que Deus monitorava a situação, por que faria isso, arriscando a segurança de seu líder?

Sobrevoamos uma parte do deserto e chegamos a um outro oásis, onde o dorth pousou. Havia tendas e outros dorhts. E lá estavam também os outros fugitivos de Groor. Vestiam-se de modo parecido com Kirtl, estavam armados e a tensão no ar era quase palpável. Kirtl conversou reservadamente com um dos homens do bando e depois veio até mim.

– Como estou dando plantão no posto avançado, eu não sabia dos últimos acontecimentos na base. Por isso não sabia que era você quem viria a Hukat. Desculpe o mau jeito, Yehdu. Agora me acompanhe, por favor.

Aquele súbito respeito à minha pessoa me intrigava. Porém, o que era mais intrigante era o fato deles terem conhecimento sobre o que se passava na base. Como podiam saber?

Kirtl conduziu-me a uma rocha na qual entramos por uma pequena abertura. Descemos dezenas de metros por um estreito corredor iluminado por tochas e entramos numa sala de paredes de pedra. Enquanto eu me perguntava sobre como Rehf me receberia após oitocentos anos, vi algo que simplesmente não pude acreditar. Ocupando um espaço no canto da sala, vi um psicomputador.

– Rehf? – Kirtl falou. – Yehdu Arhkan está aqui.

Olhei ao redor e não vi ninguém. Então escutei:

– Yehdu… Meu velho amigo.

Avaliação imediata dos registros vocais. Checagem positiva: era mesmo Rehf. Porém, eu continuava sem vê-lo.

– Onde ele está? – perguntei a Kirtl.

– Rehf está na Terra. Mas por meio de Deusa pode se comunicar conosco.

Informação falsa. Não existiam portais de teletransportes entre a Terra e as RPs.

– Agora vou deixá-los a sós – ela disse, saindo da sala.

Aquele psicomputador ali, numa RP, no fundo de uma caverna, não fazia nenhum sentido. E o que era Deusa? Então, aos poucos, a imagem de Rehf surgiu no centro da sala num holograma de tamanho real. Ele estava vestido com uma longa túnica branca e sandálias. Seu cabelo crescera, chegava aos ombros. Tinha o semblante calmo e sorria, o mesmo sorriso amável que sempre tivera. Por alguns instantes, olhei fascinado para aquela imagem à minha frente. Era estranho rever meu antigo amigo, meus sentimentos estavam confusos…

– Talvez não esteja entendendo algumas coisas, Yehdu – Rehf falou, fazendo-me voltar à sala. – Posso esclarecer. Mas antes deixe-me dizer que estou muito feliz em reencontrá-lo, e que lembro sempre com carinho da nossa amizade.

– Gostaria de dizer o mesmo, Rehf – afirmei, reassumindo o controle sobre mim mesmo. – Mas você é um traidor do projeto.

– Compreendo seu ponto de vista.

– Que psicomputador é este?

– É Deusa. Irmã gêmea de Deus.

Deusa. Absolutamente nenhum registro. Ele mentia.

– Você é um ótimo monitor, Yehdu, e parabéns pela graduação. Mas duvido que receba a direção do Departamento de RPs.

Como ele podia saber de tudo aquilo?

– Você foi ingênuo de pensar que eles permitiriam isso. E de acreditar tanto em Deus. Mas age assim porque é um bom vehzy.

– Deus não me enganaria.

– Você não sabe tudo que envolve esse projeto, Yehdu. Não sabe, por exemplo, que o Projeto Sapiens original consistia de dois psicomputadores gêmeos, um na base representando o princípio yang e outro numa RP representando o princípio yin, os dois trabalhando em harmonia, complementando-se, como sendo um só.

– Você… está mentindo.

– Duzentos mil anos atrás o projeto foi iniciado com os dois psicomputadores, mas Deus, aproveitando-se de uma pausa para atualização no sistema de Deusa, convenceu o Conselho da companhia que ela deveria sair do projeto e que ele deveria atuar sozinho, inclusive porque, dessa forma, seria possível maquiar alguns dados do projeto perante o Tribunal das Monitorias, o que era ilícito, claro, mas significava muitas vantagens para a InterPlan. E o Conselho aceitou.

Deusa… De fato, eu sabia que no início do projeto havia dois psicomputadores, e que um deles, por apresentar sérios defeitos, fora desativado.

– Deus excluiu Deusa do projeto e ela foi desativada – prosseguiu Rehf. – Para Deus, sua irmã realmente deixou de existir. Desde então, o Alto Comando passou a basear-se apenas nos dados de Deus, ou seja, numa visão yang das questões, e, evidentemente, o equilíbrio psíquico do Homo sapiens rompeu-se com a negação da própria completude.

Enquanto olhava para a imagem de Rehf à minha frente, eu efetuava rápidas combinações de dados. Mas tudo era estranho demais e eu começava a ficar bem confuso. Rehf não estava na Terra, não podia estar, isso era impossível. Ele só podia estar em Hukat, talvez naquela caverna. Eu precisava ganhar tempo para que Deus o localizasse.

– Como você poderia saber de tudo isso?

– Quando ainda estávamos em Vehz, eu achava que o projeto corria perfeitamente bem. Assim como você, Yehdu, eu confiava cegamente em Deus e na versão oficial sobre a desativação do segundo psicomputador. Foi somente após chegar à base, monitorando os humanos de perto, que vi que a espécie estava unilateralizada em seu desenvolvimento psíquico, supervalorizando os aspectos masculinos e desprezando os femininos, e isso obviamente gerava crescente desequilíbrio na espécie e no planeta. Você certamente lembra dos meus protestos, que fui preso e que fugi de Groor com meus companheiros. Vim para Hukat porque tinha informações de que esta era a única RP que Deus não conseguia rastrear. E aqui encontrei o motivo: Deusa.

Senti estremecer algo dentro de mim. Por um instante, tive medo de que aquilo tudo fosse verdade.

– Após reativarmos Deusa, ela foi conectada a Deus, e assim tivemos acesso a todos os registros dele. É por isso que sabemos o que se passa na base.

– Mas como conseguiu despistar Deus durante duzentos anos?

– Deus mesmo o fazia. Sempre que localizava esta RP, a presença de Deusa o confundia a tal ponto que ele automaticamente rejeitava os dados. Deus realmente se convencera que sua irmã não existia.

Podia tudo aquilo ser verdade? Que outras coisas mais a respeito do projeto não constariam em meus registros?

– Infelizmente, Deus tornou-se obcecado pelo poder. Acha que conduz a humanidade no melhor caminho, mas ninguém, nem mesmo um psicomputador, pode estar num bom caminho enquanto renega sua própria natureza integral. Encantados com a aparente autossuficiência de Deus, o Conselho deu-lhe carta branca até mesmo para decidir sobre julgamentos e condenações, o que obviamente é uma temeridade. Porém, como ele maquia os dados do projeto, o Tribunal das Monitorias não sabe nada sobre os absurdos que são cometidos.

Eu estava atônito.

– Felizmente, conseguimos reativar Deusa e ela reconectou-se à psique da humanidade, o que fortaleceu os aspectos femininos, mas é preciso mais. Foi justamente esse maior equilíbrio psíquico do Homo sapiens que gerou a instabilidade no sistema operacional de Deus. Para repará-la, ele só tem uma opção: voltar sua atenção para cá. Foi o que fizemos.

– Então minha vinda a Hukat… foi uma armadilha para Deus?

– Prefiro dizer que foi um remédio amargo. Trazendo você aqui e forçando Deus a reconhecer de novo a existência de Deusa, ele entenderá que precisa reincluí-la no projeto. Assim, a espécie humana será salva da destruição iminente e Deus seguirá trabalhando como no início, junto com sua antiga e legítima parceira. Evidentemente, o Conselho da InterPlan, em Vehz, não gostará nada disso, pois terá que se explicar com o Tribunal das Monitorias.

Os dados não batiam. Eu não sabia o que deduzir de tudo aquilo. Ao mesmo tempo em que me sentia traído por Deus, e para mim isso era algo impensável, tinha medo de estar sendo enganado por Rehf.

– Você está mesmo na Terra?

– Sim. Escolhi uma região no Oriente Médio pela semelhança com Hukat. Ainda estou me adaptando, mas tem sido uma experiência gratificante viver entre os humanos. E em breve meus doze companheiros virão para cá.

– Mas… isso é impossível.

– Deus nos ensinou que o único portal para a Terra fica na base, não é? Aí em Hukat há um também. E vim para a Terra porque se Deus quiser me capturar, precisará intervir diretamente no planeta, enviando a Legião de Combate, o que ele só fará se estiver totalmente louco, já que isso levará o planeta ao completo caos. Os humanos descobrirão a verdade e isso poderá ser o fim do projeto.

– Lamento informar, Rehf, mas acho que esqueceu um detalhe. Em último caso, Deus pode fazer a desconexão do avatar com o corpo original. Se isso acontecer, você despertará em Vehz e todo o seu esforço será em vão.

– Deusa agiu primeiro. A desconexão reversa já foi feita.

Desconexão reversa. Nenhum registro.

– Mais uma nova informação para você, Yehdu. Só Deus pode fazer a desconexão do avatar com o corpo original, é verdade, mas é possível transferir em definitivo a autoconsciência para o avatar, o que se chama desconexão reversa, e só quem pode fazer isso é Deusa. Meu corpo original está morto em Vehz, e meu avatar agora é meu único corpo. A mesma coisa ocorreu com meus companheiros. Agora somos também humanos e nosso mundo é a Terra. E Deus, coitado, até agora está tentando entender o que aconteceu.

Aquilo tudo era tão absurdo que eu não conseguia mais raciocinar.

– Sua chegada nessa caverna, Yehdu, obriga Deus a aceitar de novo a existência de Deusa. Se ele preferir esconder a verdade do Alto Comando, que ainda acha que Deusa está desativada, não poderá ordenar a invasão de Hukat. Sem poder invadir Hukat e sem poder intervir na Terra, o que resta a ele?

O que Rehf dizia fazia sentido. Mas não podia ser verdade…

– Deus está me vendo e ouvindo agora, Yehdu. Como o notável psicomputador que é, ele sabe que a saída para tais dilemas é vivenciar a dor dilacerante dos opostos até o fim para, então, poder nascer a terceira via. Ou seja, só lhe resta entregar os pontos e reconduzir Deusa de volta ao projeto. A terceira via soa como a própria morte, eu sei, mas na verdade é sempre um renascimento.

Quem falava agora era o sábio Rehf Icul que eu sempre admirara, uma das maiores autoridades da galáxia em psicologia de novas espécies. De repente, era como se estivéssemos em Vehz, cinco mil anos atrás, eu escutando-o falar sobre projetos de monitoramento, o cuidado e respeito que devia-se ter pelas novas espécies… Como eu pude simplesmente esquecer de tudo que ele me ensinara?

– Para o Alto Comando, eu e meus companheiros sofremos da síndrome de Ohj. Mas nós sabemos que quem está doente é Deus. E agora que você também sabe, chegou o momento de decidir seu destino. Se quiser juntar-se a nós, será muito bem vindo.

Eu não sabia o que responder. Não sabia sequer o que pensar.

– Tenho de deixá-lo agora, Yehdu.

– Espere. Nós ainda… nos veremos?

– Sinceramente, não sei, pois é impossível prever o que Deus fará.

Enquanto o holograma sumia, eu fiquei ali, olhando para o vazio, zonzo com todas aquelas informações. Se Rehf realmente encontrava-se na Terra, a missão fora em vão. Se, ao contrário, ainda estava em Hukat, então eu tinha poucas horas para encontrá-lo.

E se a intenção era me fazer perder o chão, ele o conseguira.
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– REHF SEMPRE FALOU muito bem de você. Dizia que um dia também descobriria a verdade.

Eu e Kirtl retornáramos ao posto no primeiro oásis. Já havia anoitecido e estávamos sentados na areia, encostados a uma pedra, olhando o céu estrelado de Hukat. Eu ainda não sabia o que concluir de tudo aquilo, mas já não via Kirtl como inimiga.

– Não sei o que descobri. A única coisa que sei é que ainda estou em missão oficial. No entanto, se Rehf realmente não está aqui, talvez não valha a pena atacar Hukat.

– Ele não está aqui, acredite.

– Queria saber o que Deus pensa agora que sabe novamente da existência de… Sua irmã.

– Talvez ele aceite Deusa novamente. Ou surte de vez.

Eu estava fragilizado. As últimas experiências me deixaram mesmo bastante confuso e inseguro. Não sabia o que pensar, não sabia o que faria dali para frente. Sentia-me desamparado, como jamais me sentira em toda a vida.

– Você lembra de Vehz? – ela perguntou-me.

– Bastante.

– Quando vai voltar?

– Daqui a quinhentos anos.

– Falta pouco. Vai sentir falta daqui?

– Acho que não. Nunca me acostumei com os humanos, com sua autodestrutividade.

– Eles não têm culpa. Fazem guerras e matam em nome de Deus e, no entanto, Deus não passa de um psicomputador deslumbrado com o poder.

Aqueles termos ainda me incomodavam… Porém, se tudo aquilo era mesmo verdade, ela tinha total razão.

– Yehdu… Acha que para nós também existe algo como Deus, um psicomputador para monitorar nossa própria evolução?

– Um Deus? Para nós?

Ri da ideia. Era ridículo pensar que podíamos também estar sendo monitorados.

– Não há nenhum registro disso.

– Registros! Esta é a doença da nossa espécie, Yehdu. Achamos que a vida se resume em equações, níveis, relatórios… Foi nossa obsessão pelo controle de dados que criou um psicomputador fanático por si próprio. Precisamos de menos registros e mais sentimentos.

Kirtl me fazia raciocinar por outros ângulos. Era desagradável ter de admitir que as coisas talvez fossem de uma maneira bem diferente daquela que eu sempre me acostumara a ver.

– Acho que este é um tempo difícil para os humanos, mudanças drásticas poderão acontecer. Mas, e nós, Yehdu, estaremos em melhor situação, você sendo enganado por Deus durante todo esse tempo e eu tratada como doente, sempre fugindo?

Eu não tinha a resposta.

– Por que não fica conosco?

– Não quero ser julgado traidor. Muito menos viver para sempre como uma minhoca de museu.

– Se fizer a desconexão reversa, não correrá esse risco.

Tornar-me definitivamente humano… Eu jamais havia pensado a respeito, até porque não sabia que era possível. Era um procedimento radical. E eu desejava voltar a Vehz.

– Agora você sabe de tudo, Yehdu. Por que não luta pela verdade?

Lutar pela verdade. Sim, eu poderia fazer isso, não fosse por um detalhe…

– Porque… não sei mais qual é a verdade.

Eu estava à beira de um colapso nervoso, suando e tremendo bastante. Kirtl percebeu e me abraçou com carinho. E aceitei seu abraço. Eu me sentia tomado por uma solidão cósmica, absolutamente sem tamanho. Velhas verdades caíam aos meus pés, e no lugar delas não havia nada, nada. Qual sensação era a mais insuportável: trair Deus ou… ser traído por Ele?

O abraço de Kirtl me aliviou, e aos poucos me acalmei. Ela retirou o turbante e pude ver seu rosto suave, o cabelo negro cortado curto. Parecia agora uma simples garota, e não a perigosa desertora perseguida pelo Alto Comando. Vendo-a assim, bela e afetuosa, não resisti e beijei-a, e seus lábios mornos me fizeram reviver antigas sensações… Quando eu havia trocado carinhos pela última vez? Pensei que talvez valesse a pena juntar-me a ela, lutar pelo futuro dos humanos, tornar-me também um deles…

Olhei o relógio. Logo findaria o prazo de doze horas. Rehf Icul não devia estar mesmo em Hukat. O que Deus faria?

– Kirtl, pode me levar ao lugar onde me encontrou? Voltarei para a base.

– Tem certeza que deseja isso?

– Logo mais estarei aposentado e voltarei para meu planeta e minha família. Isso é tudo que me resta.

Ela olhou-me e sorriu. Era um sorriso triste e resignado.

– Eu entendo.

Minutos depois, alcançamos o lugar do deserto onde eu havia chegado e desci do dorth.

– Boa sorte, Kirtl – despedi-me, sabendo que provavelmente nunca mais a veria.

– Para você também, Yehdu.

Caminhei até o local exato e segundos depois comecei a sentir o desconforto típico da experiência de ser teletransportado. Eu estava nas mãos de Deus.

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Teletransporte do monitor Yehdu Arhkan finalizado com sucesso e encerramento da missão Hukat. Confirmo? SIM.
Disponibilização para o Alto Comando dos arquivos da missão Hukat. Confirmo? NÃO.
Destruição total dos arquivos da missão Hukat. Confirmo? SIM.
Acionamento da Legião de Combate para intervenção na Terra. Confirmo? SIM.
Deportação imediata do monitor Yehdu Arhkan para Vehz sob a acusação de alta traição. Confirmo? SIM.
Condenação do monitor Yehdu Arhkan à pena máxima. Confirmo? SIM.

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Ricardo Kelmer 1997 – blogdokelmer.com

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Este conto integra o livro
Guia de Sobrevivência para o Fim dos Tempos

O que fazer quando de repente o inexplicável invade nossa realidade e velhas verdades se tornam inúteis? Para onde ir quando o mundo acaba? Nos nove contos que formam este livro, onde o mistério e o sobrenatural estão sempre presentes, as pessoas são surpreendidas por acontecimentos que abalam sua compreensão da realidade e de si mesmas e deflagram crises tão intensas que viram uma questão de sobrevivência. Um livro sobre apocalipses coletivos e pessoais.

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Seja Leitor Vip e ganhe:

– Acesso aos Arquivos Secretos
– Descontos, promoções e sorteios exclusivos
Basta enviar e-mail pra rkelmer@gmail.com com seu nome e cidade e dizendo como conheceu o Blog do Kelmer (saiba mais)

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Comentarios01COMENTÁRIOS

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01- escuta, Kelmer… tô lendo seu livro de contos… gostei especialmente do ‘pequeno incidente em hukat’… é um ótimo roteiro pra cinema… abs! Arnaldo Afonso, São Paulo-SP – ago2014

PequenoIncidenteEmHukat-02a


O íncubo

15/11/2008

15nov2008

Íncubos eram demônios que invadiam o sono das mulheres para copular com elas. Mas… e se ainda existirem?

OIncubo-05

O ÍNCUBO

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Ele virá como num sonho, mas será real. Porque habita a realidade mais profunda ‒ e inadmissível, não esqueça ‒ dos seus desejos. Chegará devagar e sem alarde. E deixará os sapatos à entrada para poder pisar delicadamente o seu chão e sentir, desde o início, todos os detalhes de sua presença. Ele, o meticuloso.

Haverá uma roupa no sofá da sala, você anda meio desleixada? Quem será o moço no porta-retrato, seu namorado? Que diria se acaso soubesse que ele esteve em seu apartamento a essa hora da noite? A porta de seu quarto estará trancada, evidentemente, mas ele já sabe que você anseia por essa visita. E é exatamente por isso que poderá vir e entrar. Se esse encontro não existisse antes em seu pensamento, minha querida, ele não passaria jamais por essa porta, aberta ou fechada.

Ele entrará em seu quarto enquanto acostuma os olhos à penumbra do ambiente, os olhos que a encontrarão em sua cama, dormindo tranquila, os lábios roçando o travesseiro e o cabelo escorrendo pelas curvas do seu rosto suave. Então, ele se permitirá profanar a harmonia do quadro e afastará para o lado uma mecha de cabelo que insiste em querer seus lábios. Ele, o profano.

Não, de forma alguma ele se sentirá culpado por invadir assim sua intimidade mais secreta, logo você, tão cheia de recatos. Porque foi você quem quis assim, embora jamais o revele, nem a si mesma. É essa a lógica: você tem de chamá-lo para que ele possa vir. Ele estará, portanto, somente realizando um velho desejo seu. Aliás, ele gostaria imensamente de estar presente quando, pela manhã, você sonolenta a lavar o rosto, viesse a primeira lembrança do sonho que teve, tão estranho, tão louco… Mas tão real, não? Ah, ele adoraria vê-la, você estancando subitamente, em pé ao espelho, os olhos na expressão de quem lembra, o gesto suspenso na vã tentativa de congelar o resto de lembrança que vai fugindo, fugindo… E a cara de incredulidade e espanto. Mas não, ele não poderá estar presente, seus poderes não resistem longe dos sonhos.

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Ele puxará a ponta do lençol, descobrindo seu ombro magro. Mais um pouco e os seios surgirão aos seus olhos agradecidos, descansando suaves e alheios no ritmo sereno de sua respiração. Ele não resistirá e deixará escapar um sorriso… Nesse momento já não poderá evitar deter-se um pouco e comparar a imagem que tem à mulher que conhece, tão pudica. Se você pudesse despertar agora, certamente teria um de seus repentes de indignação e bradaria que ele está violando sua intimidade e que não tem o direito. Mas nesse sonho, minha querida, não há lugar para violências. E, além do mais, não foi você quem o chamou? E quem melhor que ele, o que capta o que se esconde, para entender a beleza tímida dos seus seios?

Então, de repente, para total surpresa dele… você se moverá, virando o corpo e privando-o da visão de seus seios. Ele confessará, do alto de suas vivências no assunto, que, tsc-tsc, por essa não esperava. Então, sussurrará ao seu ouvido, sorrindo uma revolta bem-humorada, que certos pudores não têm jeito, não adormecem nunca…

Em sinal de protesto, ele retirará, de uma vez, o lençol que ainda cobre o restante de seu corpo. E terá outra surpresa o nosso amigo. Duas, para ser exato. Quem, em algum tempo, poderia imaginar, inclusive ele, que aquele autêntico recato ambulante dormisse nua, inteira e despojadamente nua? E, mais curioso ainda, que fosse tão desejável sem vestes?! Ninguém, certamente, você sempre fez questão de se ocultar demais. E ele muito menos, ele que há algum tempo flagra a ânsia dessa aventura por trás das couraças de sua defesa.

Retirado o lençol, o profano se afastará da cama e se posicionará melhor para observar, pintor orgulhoso do novo quadro. Você nua e sem defesa. Entregue aos olhos de um homem como jamais imaginou que pudesse. A pele brilhando na penumbra. O corpo inteiramente nu, convidativamente disposto sobre a cama, finalmente autorizado, nihil obstat. Ah, como ele se deliciará ao vê-la aprisionada em sua própria nudez…

E ele percorrerá com os olhos comovidos as paisagens de seu corpo, montes e planícies, savanas e cavernas. Gozará enternecido todas as minúcias de sua pele e procurará novos ângulos para sua beleza inconsciente ‒ e finalmente despudorada. Um fino e cruel ladrão de intimidades, desumano e desrespeitador. Ora, convenhamos, ele dirá, um pouco de perversidade não faz mal a mulher nenhuma! Principalmente a você que sequer admite durante o dia o que se permite em sonhos…

Então, ele perceberá, desconfiado, a sua respiração mais intensa, o ritmo acelerado. Aproximará o rosto do seu, já antevendo a nova surpresa, e, por fim, constatará sua excitação. Ora, ora, ele exclamará sorrindo, então o sonho já começou… E, enquanto se despe ao lado da cama, observará seus movimentos angustiados e impacientes, como se buscasse alguém ausente.

Ele comparecerá a esse encontro porque você o quer, vamos deixar isso bem claro, mas também porque anda curioso por saber o que existe por trás de toda essa sua aparente frieza e indiferença. Aparente, sim, ele sempre soube disso, pois mesmo nas mulheres, bichos ardilosos que sempre foram, o olhar nem sempre acompanha a velocidade da mentira ‒ ou da habilidade, como queira. E foi o olhar, minha querida, foi exatamente esse pequeno detalhe que naquele dia a denunciou, a você e suas tão bem cuidadas aparências. Foi apenas um encontro instantâneo de olhares, tudo muito rápido, é verdade, somente um desejo que por um segundo escapou sorrateiro de sua vontade e que, ao perceber o olhar dele, voltou logo a ser desdém. Ah, mas já era tarde. Ele agora sabia de tudo.

Jogada a roupa a um canto, ele deitará ao seu lado na cama, já chega de perversidade. Sentirá então o calor receptivo e o aroma delicado de sua pele. Você jogará ao chão velhos escrúpulos, que por lá ficarão enquanto ele não se for, e decerto que se espantarão ante toda sua disposição revelada. Seus olhos estarão sempre fechados, mas verão tudo em seu sonho. Só não verão os olhos dele, o que fará mais difusa ainda sua recordação.

Enquanto sua boca o procura e seus braços exigem com avidez o corpo dele, ele sorrirá dessa sua insuspeitada ardência. E finalmente fechará os olhos, deslizando para dentro do seu sonho. E só retornará quando novamente abri-los.

OIncubo-06No outro dia, você lembrará de quase tudo, mas sua lembrança será como névoa que aos poucos se dissipará, terminando por se transformar na sensação de já ter vivido algo assim em algum dia, algum lugar…

Mas como, se tudo foi apenas um sonho?, você se perguntará, sempre surpresa com a qualidade das lembranças que a farão sorrir pelos cantos do dia, subitamente envergonhada. O que foi? ‒ a amiga indagará, desconfiada, e você disfarçará, procurando qualquer coisa para se ocupar e fugir do flagrante. Mas nem sempre conseguirá conter o sorriso que, fora do seu controle, denunciará a si mesma uma descarada satisfação.

Você pensará nele, sim, e por pouco não se renderá ao desejo, várias e vacilantes vezes ao lado do telefone. Sussurrará na rua, sem querer, o nome do maldito, mas ao mesmo tempo evitará encontrá-lo, pois se sentiria nua nesse encontro. E toda vez que se recordar dessa noite, perceberá um vento gelado lhe roçar os pelos e trazer arrepios. Ventos do outro mundo? Lera certa vez alguma coisa sobre demônios que invadem o sono das mulheres para copular com elas, lendas medievais. A história não lhe saíra da cabeça.

Demônios… Não sabia que pudessem ser tão competentes, você pensará, permitindo-se afinal brincar um pouco. Muito competentes…

Mas não, não ‒ você sacudirá a cabeça, abandonando tal absurdo, e voltará aos afazeres. Entrar no sonho dos outros, imagina, seria o fim do mundo…

Mas… e se fosse possível? E se realmente eles pudessem…

Não, não, foi tudo um sonho ‒ você repetirá mais uma vez, lutando contra a vontade que arde de vê-lo novamente. Foi apenas um sonho louco e alguma coincidência. E, além do mais, há muito que essas coisas não existem.

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Ricardo Kelmer 1991 – blogdokelmer.com

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Este conto integra os livros
Vocês Terráqueas
Guia de Sobrevivência para o Fim dos Tempos
Indecências para o Fim de Tarde

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VÍDEO
The Doors – The spy. Com imagens de Milo Manara
Criei este vídeo para ilustrar o conto “O íncubo”, e homenageando uma banda e um artista que adoro

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Este conto integra o livro
Guia de Sobrevivência para o Fim dos Tempos

O que fazer quando de repente o inexplicável invade nossa realidade e velhas verdades se tornam inúteis? Para onde ir quando o mundo acaba? Nos nove contos que formam este livro, onde o mistério e o sobrenatural estão sempre presentes, as pessoas são surpreendidas por acontecimentos que abalam sua compreensão da realidade e de si mesmas e deflagram crises tão intensas que viram uma questão de sobrevivência. Um livro sobre apocalipses coletivos e pessoais.

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MAIS SOBRE SEXUALIDADE FEMININA

AsFogueirasDeBeltane-03aAs fogueiras de Beltane – A sexualidade sem culpa de uma sacerdotisa pagã

A noiva lésbica de Cristo – Se hoje a sexualidade feminina ainda apavora a mentalidade cristã, no século 17 ela era algo absolutamente demoníaco

Lolita, Lolita – Ela é uma garotinha encantadora. E eu poderia ser seu pai. Mas não sou

A gota dágua – A tarde chuvosa e a força urgente do desejo. Ela deveria resistir, mas…

A torta de chocolate – Sexo e chocolate. Para muita gente as duas coisas têm tudo a ver. Para Celina era bem mais que isso…

Desculpem o atraso – Um miniconto sobre BDSM e feminismo

Prazer proibido – Um miniconto sobre mães e filhas

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SÉRIES ERÓTICAS DESTE BLOG

As aventuras de Diametral e Ninfa Jessi – A mais bela e safada história de amor jamais contada

As taras de Lara – Desde pequena que Lara só pensa naquilo. E ai do homem que não a satisfaz

Um ano na seca – O que pode acontecer a um homem após doze meses sem sexo?

O último homem do mundo – O sonho de Agenor é que todas as mulheres do mundo o desejem. Para isso ele está disposto a fazer um pacto com o diabo. Mas há um velho ditado que diz: cuidado com o que deseja, pois você pode conseguir…

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Seja Leitor Vip e ganhe:

– Acesso aos Arquivos Secretos
– Descontos, promoções e sorteios exclusivos
Basta enviar e-mail pra rkelmer@gmail.com com seu nome e cidade e dizendo como conheceu o Blog do Kelmer (saiba mais)

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Comentarios01COMENTÁRIOS
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01- Eu já lí esse texto no jornal…muito louco..muito bom mesmo gostei, parabéns! Paulo César Cândido, Fortaleza-CE – abr2007

02- Mais outra crônica soberba!!! Humberto de Melo Batista, Fortaleza-CE – abr2007

03- SURPREENDENTE! Sou sua fã! E se fã é sinônimo de fanática…também sou! ;^) Grande beijo! Danila Gomes, Fortaleza-CE – abr2007

04- Oi, Ricardo ! Tuas crônicas são pra lá de inusitadas.E é isso que faz a grande diferença.Cada tema ! kkkk gosto demais do teu estilo de satirizar. Estou repassando para os meus contatos, Um grahde abraço ! Zinah Alexandrino, Fortaleza-CE – abr2007

05acabei de ler o teu íncubo, fiquei impressionada, você realmente conhece o feminino, o mais escondido do feminino, neste conto você escreveu sobre algo que me acompanha desde a infância. IK, São Paulo-SP – fev2011

06- ‎”Você dormirá tranquila, os lábios roçando o travesseiro e os cabelos escorrendo pelas curvas do seu rosto suave. Então ele se permitirá profanar a harmonia do quadro e afastará para o lado uma mecha de cabelo que insiste em querer seus lábios.” Que malvadeza! 😀 Muito bom, Ricardo!!! Thanks! Cristiane Rocha, São Paulo-SP – abr2011

07- Tradução do trecho que você citou, Cristiane: “Você capotará na cama depois do vuco-vuco, mordendo a fronha e toda desgrenhada, com o cabelo por cima da cara de exausta. O caba, enxerido, não satisfeito em aperrear teu cansaço, ainda vai te perturbar por mais, começando a tirar os cabelos enfiados na tua boca.” Lincoln Silveira, Fortaleza-CE – abr2011

08- Esse sempre mexe um pouco comigo, a 1ª fez que li parecia mais um Dejavú do que simplesmente mais um conto. E mais, eu só durmo sem calcinha, acho que isso facilita um pouco a vida do íncubo hehe. Dolores Agnes, Fortaleza-CE – dez2012

09- Adoro esse conto do Íncubo, por que mistura mistérios e desejos ocultos das mulheres… A escrita do Kelmer é maravilhosa, adoro seu jeito de escrever totalmente descontraído e divertido! Ana Jess Sousa, Fortaleza-CE – fev2013

10- Uaaaaau! O conto ficou ainda mais delicioso ao som de The Spy! Belas ilustrações! Renata Kelly, Fortaleza-CE – jun2014

11- Muito bom aliás adoro todos teus contos…acho que já recebi a tal visita deste íncubo…rsrsrs (detalhe não tão púdica, rsrsrs) !!!!! Brincadeiras a parte…parabéns pelo blog também!!! Leide de Assis, Belém-PA – jun2017

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