The strip-tease





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)





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.”


“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…”


“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?”


“You’re not joking.”


“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.”


“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.”


“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.”



“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?”


“Is he here now?”

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


“Disagreements. It happens.”




“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.”


“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?”


“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?”


“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.”


“He even got emotional about it.”

“What about you?”

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


“You’re so beautiful, Gis…”




“Is that proposal still standing?”

“Which one?”

“Our relationship.”

*     *     *



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


“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.”


“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…”


“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.”

Ricardo Kelmer –



(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 




Something is rotten in the 202




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)





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.

Ricardo Kelmer –



(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




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)





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.”


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.

Ricardo Kelmer –



(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 




Crimes of passion





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)





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…”


“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”…


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.

Ricardo Kelmer –



(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 




A little incident in Hukat




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)





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.”


“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.


She was outside the tent giving water to the dorht.

“I need to see Rehf.”


“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.


She turned around, surprised.

“Yehdu Arhkan? PR Department?”


“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.

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.

Ricardo Kelmer –



(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.


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> In portuguese – blog 




The vertigo





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)





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.


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?”


“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.”


“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?”


“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?

Ricardo Kelmer –



(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 




The blue light cylinder





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)





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 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!”


“We don’t know, I swear!”


“Don’t do that, please!”


“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…

*     *     *


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…



“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.

*     *     *


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!”


“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.


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.

Ricardo Kelmer –



(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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