Emilia. The word rang in the silver air, and sprang across the vaulted ceiling and to its destination. The word rang forcecully as it leapt, and was clad in a strange hue. Emilia. A strange word, and a stranger name - for reasons I cannot reveal yet - but what I can reveal is that the name was a sickness, a disease. It was an afront against the silence, that hovering, grave silence that occupied the house at night.
The silence of the house was not so much a silence, as simply the absence of noise. The silence was the absence of screaming, of plates crashing and of palms striking tender, red flesh. The silence was always temporary, waiting to be broken by next day. It was a deep and oppressive silence, full of possibilities, broken hearts and teary apologies.
The silence always came after Emilia was told to go to her room and lock the door. It always came as as a perversion of the natural order. It was therefore strange that the night reached out and cried for her tonight. No one used to cry for her.
As soon as the word reached Emilia. She was alert and jumped out of bed and into her sandals. Mechanically, not aware herself that she was still half-asleep, she drew a long, knitted cardigan over a white t-shirt and went to the door.
The door opened with a mechanical hiss as the train stopped and panted in front of her door. Emilia stopped, for the briefest of moments, and looked backwards out her window. The moon cast silver rays towards her, which stretched across the walls in search of her. Looking at the moon, Emilia felt as if the moon was warning her; Telling her to stay. There is still time. You don't have to go. It'll all be better tomorrow. You just have to give them the best version of you, give them all your laughter and youth. If you give them all this, and only then, maybe they'll give you what you always wanted. A gift needs to be given, in order to be received.
Naturally, Emilia didn't listen to moons, and entered the empty dark, cabin, which spurted into life when a female-voice echoed across the speakers. "Please. Mind the closing doors. Next stop is undecided as of yet." The cabin shook violently, the wheels roared in defiance against the metal, and thick, silver steam swarmed around the windows as the train forged ahead in the night.
Emilia didn't know it yet, but there was a man waiting for her on the train.
The drab, slender posession had moved across the green and lowered it into the black. Too few hans had been there to hold the coffin, despite its size, and the keeper had to assist the last half of the stretch.
Every coloured step of that way rang across their minds as they sat outside on the bench in the spring evening chill. The steps rang of sorrow and broken promises; of gifts promised, but never given. It rang light, almost inaudible, but was sharp and deafening all the same. The step rang of future possibilites, being deleted one by one in their minds, and in was sundering.
Charles held her close, her head on his shoulder. In his eyes, Charles held the moons. The two moons shone bright, and flickered mysteriously like stars. It is a strange set of moons, thought Charles.
Nina ruffled Charles' hair, brown and curly, and thought of Emilia. Without knowing it, she said it out loud to the silence. But the silence had nothing to say, nothing to give.
The moons talked though. It was as if they were trying to remind the lonely pair on the bench of something.
"Don't tell me you're fine, I can see blood. Oh God, it's rushing, it's coming." Emilia was on a train, holding a man's wound, and telling the blood to stop, but her words rang empty. The words had no power here. Not her words anyway. She felt the chill of the mountain air, freezing and burning all the same against her skin. Her red, soaked cardigan turned to a monster that choked her, enveloped her and threatened to suffocate her. She had to save the man to stop the monster.
Like on a subway, the train had been dark, noisy and violent. The train had been like the evenings at home. As home was left behind, the dark opened and gave way. The trembling shook and the carriage turned silent. But, this was a good, fulfilling kind of silence. A silence that wanted nothing, expected nothing.
As the silence came, so did the light, as the Train rushed out of the dark tunnel and into the light. Outside, black stretches of nothing were erased and recouloured into a million fields and farms. Inside, in an indeterminable moment, men and women exploded into existence and filled the carriage. Emilia couldn't say where they came from, or when they came into being. All she knew was that they were here now. The cabin turned packed, and Emilia sought respite from rustic demin jeans, phones and skirts. This was when she found the man.
The man was slumping forward in his red seat by the window. He was a normal man, as far as men go, and wore a dirty pair of denim jeans and a white t-shirt. A rough physique. Broad shoulders and veiny arms gave way to a weary face and a thick set of meandering, brown curls. The way the man slumped in his seat gave the impression that he was hurt, so Emilia went to investigate.
"Hello!", Emilia said. But nothing came of it. The man seemed fast asleep. She tried again: "Hello!", and nudged his shoulder. Again nothing. Was he dead? or simply a heavy sleeper? She tried listening for his breath, but she heard nothing. Then she reached for his pulse.
Touching his wrist, the man woke to life. Wet, weary eyes met hers, and the two froze for a moment. There was nothing adult, nothing mean, in the eyes of the man. And the lack of anything in the green of his eyes, took Emilia back. Eyes, to her, was always occupied with something; be it rage, or joy, sadness or hope. But these eyes held nothing, before suddenly they exploded into a dull, weary smile.
"Hello!", the eyes told her.
Farmers tilled the green fields and brought in the yellow crops. A red tractor puffed its way around a small, pristine hill. Scattered, coloured farms, clad the rolling, sleepy valley as the train made its way to the mountains. A million different lives passed by as the man and Emilia was locked in conversation.
"What's your name? Princess." The man asked, having heard her name.
"Hm..." Emilia fondled her hair and sat down next to the man.
"Princess?" Emilia tried, having been taken aback by the compliment.
"Haha, yes. I like to know the name of the princesses I'm talking to. Makes everything easier, as I'm not used to referring to someone as 'Holy Higness', 'Your Revered Magnificence', and so on". The man chuckled silently as he said it.
"Emilia". Her cheeks were red.
"A great name. Good choice". His voice was soothing like a hot bath, but tired as legs after a long hike. It was perfect in every imaginable way, but oh so tired.
"I didn't pick it"
"Oh, well. Did the name pick you then?" His eyes held her loosely. She was all to him, and he focused on her, but took care as to not hold her too tightly. She needed some room.
"I don't know."
The man leaned back in his seat, giving her a rest from his eyes. He found the window, and brushed back a set of unruly curls in order to see better. Emilia saw something in his eyes, like a half-hearted kind of sadness - but she wasn't entirely sure what it was. As the train slid on, past farms and lives, the conversation followed on logically from favourite pets to the meaning of life.
"Why are you here?" The man produced the question from nothing and offered it to her. Emilia didn't know what to do with it. She didn't know. She had simply been in her room one moment, and now she was here.
"I don't know". She managed.
"Hmm, you don't seem like the person who should be sitting on a train?" His eyes were expressionless again, and seemed to be searching for something outside in the landscape. His eyes seemed lost.
"Well, you seem a bit young to be riding a train all by yourself, Emilia."
"Oh, well I'm not that young. Not really." She opened both her hans, and offered them to him, to tell him that she was not less than ten years old. She had seen ten years of life, and she was growing older by the minute.
"Haha, ok. Then, I guess you're old enough for train. But I really hope your not here".
Emilia didn't answer. Unsure of what he meant.
"I really hope you're not here. I hope you're lodged fast and firm in some wondrous dream, somewhere far away from the likes of me.
But, perchance you really are here. Blessing me here with that inconspicious, small presence of yours, I really hope you would take the train back home when our journey is done and over."
There was a sadness in his eyes, a dry sadness which refused to show itself. It was still present though, it was present in the silence that ensued. It was a nervous silence, waiting for what it knew would come.
The man took to his chest, clamoured and screamed as blood rushed out of the gaping wound.
Emilia ran to her feet and clutched the wound tight.
How had she missed it?
His t-shirt was red and awful. And Emilia was fearful again.
It had passed. Everything. What was left to the pair at the bench, staring up at the two mysterious moons, was simply nothing.
Emilia's death had given them nothing.
Each day was a grey menace, a tired, narsissistic silence that roared and screamed. It screamed at Charles and Nina. At the office, the silence was always there and told them all they had never given.
The Christmas Present. Help. The Birthday Present. Attention.
Such passed the days, until one day the bell rang and Charles went to open the door. As will come to show, the moons had seen Charles and Nina at their bench outside their house and it had given them a sign.
The sign was in the guise of a very real pirate, which stood outside looking at the greenery flanking their house. As most pirates, he had long, black hair. A thick, unkempt beard straddled his chin and spilled over his collar and neck. Unlike most pirates, however, he was wearing a no-doubt expensive, grey suit and he wore a grey, suede cowboy hat with flat edges. What gave him away as being a pirate, was the black patch over his left eye, the parrot perched colourfully on his shoulder, and the treestump he used for a right leg. He didn't have a cane, so he had a slight, limp that he tried to conceal. But, he was given away by the heavy thud his stump made as he walked. Yup, it's beyond any reasonable doubt. I'm dealing with a Pirate here.
The figure took Charles aback for a moment, but he quickly recovered and asked what he wanted.
"Yar! I be on a mission, not any normal mission mind you, this be a mission of a...", the pirate looked for the words "delicate, and inconceivably precious...manner"
"Ok, do you want coffee?", Charles didn't quite know what to say, so he reckoned coffee to be prudent. He wasn't used to dealing with Pirates.
Thud. Silence. Thud. The pirate seemed somewhat selfaware as he entered the peculiarily ordinary living room. He tried concealing his gait just an inch more, but his efforts only made him seem more out of place.
"Please sit", Nina called from the Kitchen. Duly, the Pirate sat down in the leather sofa and put his functioning leg on the IKEA glass-table. When Nina came in with the coffee, he jumped a bit, and took his foot down.
"So what is it you want?", Charles began.
"Well, I...I be...", the pirate's gaze was stuck in the coffee cup, where he seemed to search for the missing piece of the sentene.
"You are?", Nina acted concerned.
"Something be amiss." The Pirate removed his hat, let out his hair and put the coffee cup down with the utmost care. As he spoke, he ran his fingers through his beard.
"I...I be a Pirate. Not an easy thing to be in days like these mind ye, ehe. What, with all the computers and legal stuff and surveillance and all. Privateering is hard, yar." The pirate's fingers found something in his beard, and he looked at it for a brief moment before putting it delicately down on his dish.
"Nevermind that, yer...ye be Emelia's parents no?"
Charles and Nina nodded. Nina took the opportunity to point out the pictures on the stove, locked in coloured plastic frames so as to stick out from the wooden background. Charles took her hand and looked down. The pirate understood.
"Yes. Well, I be a captain of sorts still. Though, I...I lost me ship awhile back. Too much taxes' the reason for that. Since that I was stuck on the Ebenhorn lighthouse - wanted to be close to me sea - you see. And...of lately, somethings started going amiss. Not like ghosts or such, no. That would have been a cliche. No, it's just the tides."
"The tides?" Nina asked, before asking if he wanted more coffee. The pirate declined with his hand.
"Yar, the tides be amiss. Normally, there's not much to my job. I watch, jot and report. I spend the day watching the sea, with tides and all until its dusk. Dull work, but peaceful. I only break for dinner, where a lovely lass brings me some leftovers from a nearby café. Yar.
Then, when dusk comes. I jot down the sea. The tides, the times, the wind and such. Wilflife too. I report these things to HQ, up at the local newschannel. I also use my observations to predict the level of the tides, when they be due and such. Mostly for shipping purposes. But, lately, it's all been wrong."
Charles and Nina were loosing their patience, yar for yar. First, he teased them with Emelia, but now he was lost in some incredibly dull story about his work. The pair didn't say anything, but the Pirate could sense these things, as Pirates do, and sped up his story.
"Arr. So...The tides be amiss. They come and go whenever it please them. There's no logic to them, all me predictions are wrong. This puts me in great pressure with HQ. I never be wrong. Never before. I know the sea me.
It seems, as if the moons be awry. Talking to me...talking with me through the waves and the tides. Strange moons they be of late...
So, then, day before yonder, I spent a whole night at the lighthouse, looking at the blue at night. And...I went outside and asked, I be frustrated and ill, and I asked...'What do ye want of me, sea? What is it you wan't me to do?'
I had not said it, before the tides began approaching, climbing higher and higher up the seaside. I though I was gonna drown, me...but the tide stopped just before me feet - real mysterious like. And, the tides carried this flask."
From some hidden fold of his suit, the Pirate produced a transparent bottle. A brown piece of parchment was inside. The pirate took out the piece of parchment, and put on a pair of yellow ray-bans, before he read it. The handwriting was crude, but the grammar on-point. It became apparent, just who wrote it.
Mom, and Dad.
This is Emilia.
I have been gone for some time, and I can't tell you where, but I have talked to a lot of people and heard different opinions.
In order to return to you, I need to receive something. I cannot tell you what something, but it is something which I haven't had before.
So, I ask you to procure this thing for me and bring it to:
22, Cadbury Drive
Once there, a board of examiners will review it, and if it is indeed the right thing, they will bring me home.
Life on a Train
The Man was bleeding. His face was calm, but Emilia could see the pain blocking his eyes. He kept his voice calm, but it was not the calm of before. It was another type of calm. A calm which had accepted reality. He was going to bleed out. He was going to die.
"I'm fine, Emilia, really." He brushed away her hair.
"Don't tell me you're fine, I can see blood. Oh God, it's rushing - it's coming."
The train had started ascending, and was now headed upwards towards the peak of the mountain. Frozen fast, every single one of Emilia's muscles were locked fast, trying to put all her pressure onto the wound. But, she was tiny and small - what could she do? She had no power to stop the bleeding, no skills and no time.
Around her, the people on the train - so lifelike and attentive only moments ago - had turned to plastic and paint. They were mannequins, and had only pretended to be alive.
"No, really, Emilia. I'm fine." The man said as blood gushed out. He was not really there though. His eyes were locked on the moon, sailing across the black heavens outside. It was night. In order to ease her, he invited her onto his lap, and put his own hand against the wound. She shook her head, "no", but the man was obstinate and she had to give up.
"I don't want you to die" Emilia meant every word of it. It was something about the man, some nameless quality that she found endearing, and she meant every word of it. Perhaps it was his eyes.
"Oh, I'll be fine. I'm just a man on a train. So long as you're fine, I'm fine, deal?". Emilia looked down.
"I want to give you something, Emilia?" He took her chin and directed her face towards his.
"I want to give you something for you, so you can use it when you need it. It's not something which is easy to give, and not something which is hard to get. But, you will need it more than me."
The man rummaged through his pockets and quickly found what he was looking for. It was something round and pointy at the ends, wrapped in brown parchment. As she accepted, Emilia unwrapped it and took out the item. She held it in her hand, weighed it, and threw it between her hands as the man continued talking.
"I really wish you were not on this train, Emilia.
For your sake, I hope you're not, but you might be real and not an illusion.
Anyway, I wish, for you, that you live a happy life and my gift is something which I hope will help you.
Oh, how I wish that your life will be unlike mine.
My life sadly, has been lived on this train. And a life on a train is not a life you'd want to live.
The train stops where it wants, and continues when it wants. You don't choose your stop, somehow the stop seems to choose you. The train carves its way where its headed, regardless of where you want to go, or which path you wanna take there."
The train shook violently as the ascent increased and the engines powered up to compensate. Out the window, Emilia saw a tiny wooden bridge spanning a massive waterfall approaching. The near frozen water seemed to boil as vapor fled and surged from the bottom and up.
Then the lights went out. And all Emilia had was his voice, and his gift in her hands.
"Oh, how I hope you'll live a life complete. Like that of a river. The river is in no hurry, and takes its time.
If the riverbed isn't too its liking, it meanders and carves a new route across the landscape. It's so beautiful the water."
The man was sobbing in the dark. The train came to the bridge, and outside watervapor and wind battled and cried.
"Water is a lot like life, I hope. Itself chooses were to go, and which path to take. It might fail and fall, but it might suceed and rise upwards. Just like a waterfall.
Sometimes, as a boy, I used to throw things into the river - watch it float away. It was entirely magical, but also doubtlessly real. A kind of a meditation. I'd dream up stories, I did, of where the river began and where it ended. Of course, I didn't know, so sometimes it ended up somewhere fantastic and sometimes somewhere horrible.
Tell me, what is the colour of water?"
Emilia told him she didn't know and looked outside. In the black, she was trying to find the white of snow still visible. In a moment, she found the metall of the bridge - reflected in the moonlight. We muct be halfway across. A loud, metallic cringe followed before she turned weightless.
Floating in the dark carriage, she heard the man speak. The final act of Don Giovanni was streaming ominously through the speakers, spilling into his vouice.
"Don Giovanni. Life is a bit like water. It's a bit transparent, but also a bit colorful. Sometimes it gleams, invitasti, sometimes you can see all the colours, the weeds and the fish at the bottom.
Fortuna. To truly know water - that it is there - you have to throw something into it. Upset it a bit. See it ripple, and shine in the light. Only then, when it's moving and upset do you see what you need. Scusare.
That's life. It's not what it seems. To know it, you need to disturb it and throw something altogether strange into it. See it move and react to the object. Only then can you say what life is, and what death is not. Che Ceffo, ecc.
Use my gift wisely."
His last words was followed by a thundering, golden crash.
22, Cadbury Drive, Edinburgh was somwehat different that what Charles and Nina had expected.
Driving up in their yellow beetle, the pair had expected somekind of grand, peculiar reception hall. Nina hoped for umpa-lumpa's carrying trays of cocaine and alien-candy. Charles voiced excitedly, that he hoped it would be a place where there were some answers. The pirate had left them sorely wanting, having just started the mystery, having just incited the frail, intangible beginnings of hope, before leaving them as destitute, uncompleted question marks. Driving throughtlessly across the dusty, brown plain, they had hoped Emilia would be there, waiting open-handed for them. Ready to accept their gift. But. This is not that kind of story where stuff like that happens.
22, Cadbury Drive was anything but promising, and not the least extraordinary. Nina had dressed up in a glorious sheepskin coat, lined with a red ermine collar, and leopard tights to match. Charles wore his red, dotted suit and green shoes. The pair looked entirely, completely out of place where they stood in front of 22, Cadbury drive.
Cadbury Drive was a grey block of concrete, which seemed even duller than that. It seemed like a dull block of nothing, and was sat in the middle of an empry parking lot. No windows, no lights or entrances. Except for the one massive black door in front , there was no evidence that this was even a building. It was just an empty anthill, but the air around it was strange. The more the pair looked at it, the stranger it became. As if air and time and gravity all shifted and quarelled around it, swirling around each other and collapsing together in a grotesque mess of a building. It was not natural.
Naturally, the pair had thought long and hard about what gift to bring. Nina held it in her hands, as the pair approached the door and rang the bell. Next to the massive, imposing door was a tiny call-button, which read "Train Co.".
They had though long and hard about what would be proper and best. A doll perhaps? A nice, fat checque? A boat?
They ended up hedging their bets on a nice, personal thing they knew Emilia would like. It was something she had mentioned in between passsing breaths, something she valued and wished for more than anything else. They had never given the gift to Emilia before, because she seemed to young. But, now was the time. It was now or never.
Her gift was a pair of inconspicous keys, which belonged to the yellow Beetle they drove up in. The Car was a car, and the car was freedom. The car would be Emilia's and they knew she'd like it.
If only someone could open the door.
Charles and Nina had almost given up when Charles rang the bell for the fourth time. Nina had her back to the door and sobbed under her breath while Charles rang and cursed silent curses.
Around the building was a silence. Not any special silence mind you; just a very ordinary silence. It was an incomplete silence, broken by the gusting wind and the occasional seagull. The silence was tough and unyielding, and gave the pair time to reflect. It called out all the possibilities, and rang and verberated in their ears. What are you Thinking? Emilia is dead. Gone.
The silence was broken as the pair gasped. The door revolved outwards soundlessly, and spewed out a tiny, grey woman. The woman wore a grey cardigan and black trousers, which added ten years to her face. She was old and Grey.
I could relate a lot of the day the pair spent in that building, but i shall not. I shall sparingly relate the most important fact, which came about after a million seconds of waiting and being shushed around to waiting rooms, meeting halls, receptions, clerks and archives. Nothing of it matters, except for the very last room.
The very last room was not so much a room as an open space where someone had happened to have dropped a table and enclosed in a set of walls. It was totally anonymous, but, unlike the other rooms, the walls walls were painted in pure gold. The table was wooden, with silver clamps. Fruit bowls and water bottles were spread over it in no particular order.
"It is not really gold, not really." The ordinary man with the brown curls said.
"Oh...It looks like it". Charles feigned dissappointment.
"Yup, that is its purpose. We can feign every manner of colour, even gold and such, with the use of modern, technical chemistry. Very simple you see."
"Okey then. So, onto business?" Charles raised a brow at the man, hoping he was not a chatter.
There was a warm, acute mildness to the man. The rest of the table was filled with people in suits and dotted kimonos, looking at nothing in particular, waiting and hoping for nothing in particular. They wished, perhaps, to get home from work.
But, the man was another type of man altogether. During the conversation, he never took his eyes of Charles and Nina. He gave them all his attention, and, when confronted, he seemed sincere and genuine - as if he had some personal interest in Emilia. He had a slight, wooden limp and some pain in his chest, which became apparent only once, when he offered to rise and fill their glasses and had to lean on the table to guard against the pain.
"This case is highly irregular". The man started. Charles nodded.
"It is not our policy, to...deal, with people that young, mr. Charles. We are a trustworthy company, all about the bottom line."
"What do you do exactly, hmm? What does Train.co...do?". Charles leaned forward onto the table, searching for the upper hand. The day had been long, winding and neverending. He had to be firm, sincere and direct to find Emilia. This place was a maze of archives, systems and dead ends.
"We deal in Trains. Ehem, Trains of a peculiar nature mind you. Nothing extraordinary, or...supernatural, just not the sort of trains you're used to dealing with." It was apparent the man did not want to talk about the business.
"Like? an example?". He applied pressure to the wound, hoping it would hurt.
"Like....", a man leaned in and whispered into the ear of the man with the brown curls. When he leaned back, the man nodded and continued. "Like, we have a train called the cyclops. It is a peculiarity, for people who have everything and wish some...experience they can get nowhere else."
"Get to the point!". Nina was furious, and Charles took her in his. Signalling to her that he had this. The curly man continued anyway, but offered Nina a sympathetic look.
"Well. Cyclops train is an ordinary train. You can buy a ticket, but it only stops at one place. Cyclops station, naturally.
In the manual, the reader is given the impression that the train moves around the world in a circle - and is therefore ideal for someone wishing to boast that they have seen all there is, and been all there was. However, such a train route is not economically viable.
We only give them the impression that the train goes around the world, but in fact it stand completely still. More...economical, you see? The train stands completely still."
"How the flying fuck do you cheap bastard trick people to believe it's moving?". An impatient Nina was loosing it, and the outburst seemed to shake the man. But he stood firm, like a tree in a storm.
"Quite simply. We use the newest drugs. I cannot give you the name or the components, but we drug the passengers. When the drug wears off, they are back where they started - where they have always been - and walk off the train believing and boasting that they have been all around the world."
The man took a nervous look away, down into his coffe cup. It was empty.
"Nevertheless. Emilia was an exception and anomaly. She wasn't supposed to be on the train." The curled man snarled the words at the pair, expecting some kind of explanation.
"We don't know. You tell us?". Charles tapped the words with his fingers, looking across the room - away from the man. The man held him firm though, and Charles felt his eyes on his cheek. They were bruning, searing, drilling their way into his soul.
"I looked up Emila. She was relocated, according to social services, a number of times. Once to Canada, and then to India.
Two years ago, Police found her unattended in the baththub with a sharp razor. At this time, she had just been given back to you. The justification reads 'Parents having shown initiative to repair relationship, and is months into a program designed to help them quit their drug abuse. Alcohol?"
"Ecstasy...Meth" Nina said before brushing her hand over Charles' shoulders on her way out. Charles watched her leave.
"What do we have to do with Emilia's dissappearance?" Charles tried in between sips of water. The room was stiffling, the gold melting and floating around him. This was not the end he wished for.
"Emilia was found outside in December. She was cradling around a cold bonfire, a burnt match in her hand and an empty matchbox next to it. The bonfire was outside your house. The court said she died of neglect. The parents were found unaware, high, and quarrelsome, inside of their house." The man read the police report matter-of-factly. The warmness was gone from his eyes. But Charles felt hot all the same.
"Yes. You hoped. As men do. That is the nature of men. Hope."
"Emilia was on that train for the entirely wrong set of reason, and we implemented tactcs to see her safely of it. But...". The curly hairy man teared up, and the suited, grey gentleman beside him took over. There was no emotion in him.
"We were surprised that Emilia managed to contact you. Ordinarily, that is impossible." The curly man was looking down, looking inconspicious and trying to remove himself. It was as if he had some part in Emilia's message he didn't want to say. But Charles couldn't know this, he could only guess at the mystery.
"The letter mentioned a gift. Why I don't know. What I do know is that the gift came to late. Emilia is dead. A gift never given in life, cannot be given in life. It seems too, that the gift produced was entirely innaccurate. A yellow beatle? Really?
Gifts need not be thing or objects, such is not the nature of gifts. Gifts are more valuable if entirely worthless. Gifts are a safe home, a tender kiss, a solemn goodnight story. Gifts are not a yellow Beetle, at least not for dead girls."
The grey man waved Charles out with a hand.
There was a silence in Charles' step. It was an entirely broken, but entirely natural silence. It smelled of abuse and neglect, of shallow quarrels and wishes of self-fullfillment. It rang out like a slap across Charles' face, like the slaps had rung and rippled across Nina's face. It was a wet and blue kind of silence, like a neverending moonfull night. It was a silence he had neglected and nurtured, that he hoped would go away if only he could win her back. But, this is not that kind of story. Naturally.
Neither is this the ending of the story. For this is not the kind of story that ends. This story is about how Emilia became the moon, and the moon is always there. Waiting. Hoping. Watching. So, lets begin.
When Emilia came to, she was entirely dazzled. Everything was a blur. She seemed entirely lost, where she stood in the golden hall. She tried to find herself and shook her head violently.
She rubbed her eyes and stretched her back, but needed time. She found the wall, cold and sleek against her touch, and leaned against it for a second. Around her, Gold and vocices revolved, and shook the building.
After three seconds, she was back to normal and looked around.
She found herself in a gilded, golden hall. The gold of the walls were occasionally broken by fragments of red and green. Taking a step back from it, she realized that the red and the green was somekind of mosaic. The Mosaic was of men and women, locked in lively colours into the wall. Some talked, others fought with swords and spears.
Above her, a heavy vault roof in dark timber stretched out. Green inscriptions shone out from the beams in languages Emilia didn't understand. What a strange room. Where is the Train? Where is the Man?
Emilia felt entirely alone, but no more alone than she was used to. Still, she longed for the man. She longed for something normal to wash in, save her from all of this abnormality. Like a glorious, cleansing wave.
"So...you seek all the power of the world".
Emilia turned around quickly, reaching for the walls to support her dazed self.
The voice was a dark voice. It rang and sprang and vaulted across the rafters and the between the golden, resonant walls. It rang of judgement and responsibility, and it was heavy and weary. The voice sounded of disappointment and of tears. Of Hades' unfullfilled ambitions and tearful imprisonment in the afterlife. But, the voice had no face.
The voice was not so much a voice as a swirling, twisting darkness at the end of the hall. The darkness didn't speak, but told the silence what to say and then the silence spoke for the darkness. And Emilia listened.
"All the power in the world?". Emilia tried.
"Yes". The darkness.
"Will it bring me home?"
"I don't know".
"Do I have a choice?".
Emilia approached the darkness cautiously, step by step. She nestled the gift, bound in parchment. She told the gift to protect her, and the gift listened. She knew that her chanches were slim, but she had to try. The hall had no doors. She had to try.
"I seek all the power in the world". Emilia broke the silence.
"Great". The darkness spoke as if it had said this a thousand times before, and had already judged her answers. "To have all the power in the world, you need only do one thing."
"Ok, and...". The darkness cut Emilia off.
"You need only name all things of nature, according to its nature."
"Yes. Name me the mountains, according to their nature, and all which inhabit it. Then name me the plains and the sea, as well as the creatures within and without it. But, name me all these things according to its nature."
"It's nature?" Emilia wasn't sure.
"Yes, according to its one, prime defining feature. For example. I could name the mountains as rocks, as this is what amountain is. A fox, I would name it cunning as all foxes are cunning by nature.
"Y...yes, I think so".
Emilia wasn't entirely sure. But she held the bundle of parchment firm, putting all her fear and doubt into it.
As she spoke, she let that gift receive all she didn't wish to show. And Emilia named all things to that darkness. She thought harder about some things, but most of them were easy. The crow was opportunistic. The cat was cute. The oceans were water. Simple.
After longer than long, and further than far; having named all things, Emilia let the silence have the last word. In the darkness of the that golden hall she had named all things except one. Mankind.
The darkness twisted and snarled and judged. "What is the nature of man?", the darkness was growing impatient. The darkness was weary of elaboration, and it knew she would fail.
"Before I name mankind, mr. Darkness, I have one request." Emilia raised the parchment to her chest and closed her eyes. The darkness seemed to lean forward towards her. Waiting. Expecting. Hoping.
"I wish that you take this piece of parchment and do with it as I wish."
"Hmmm...Agreed." The darkness was pondering, not wishing to be tricked.
"Then, I'll name man, which I do not know how to do. It's seems to me mankind is entirely more complicated than nature, more complex and indeterminable than any one word." Emilia was hoping to talk her way to the asnwer and paid close attention to the darkness.
"Mankind is defined by one thing. We must all die." The darkness sighed in dissappointment.
"But,...we cannot be defined by our death, so...Man's name cannot be death".
What then? Emilia thought of the man.
"Mankind's name could be empathy, or hate? No, it is not a feeling." The darkness leaned back."
Is it love, no. Breathing, no lots of animals do that. Oh, what is it? Is there no Hope.
Emilia froze at that thought, but quickly recovered. She took a cheecky look up, and let a hopefull tiny, clever smile spread acorss her face.
"Mankind's name is hope." The darkness sighed in response. But this time, the sigh was in amazement. The dakness couldn't believe it.
"Mankind is the only creature aware of its own place and aware of its place in relation to others. Mankind seems more complicated and human than beasts, but we are not - we only have enough brainpower to realize there's more to life than what is right here. Right now. So, we hope.
Before Christmas, we hope for a present. A nice red train with electric motors. Before marriage, we hope for love. We hope to be gifted, and given the things we do not have. Such is the nature of mankind. The nature of mankind is such that we neglect what we have, in hope for what comes next. But our greates hope is that the present will at one time be just enough. Then we would need no more gifts."
The darkness laughed and bellowed. The room shook and yelled and collapsed. The heavy, foreign roofbeams broke every bone in Emelia's body and ground her into powder. Silence came after, when the winds rushed in an carried the ashes of Emilia out.
This is the story of how Emilia became the moon.
When Emilia came to, she felt entirely weightless again. She felt bloated and heavy too, as if she had just had a massive dinner of pork and potatoes and rice and sauce and everything delicious. She had had dessert too.
The darkness was all over, but mingled with tiny specks of light. Occasionally, fiery lights would race across the sky. Emilia tried following them and realized she could move her head. She moved it left and right, but it felt saggy and slow. It was as if she had no neck, and simply willed her head into rolling. If she willed long enough, she could move her head in all directions.
She found it. Earth. Hovering silently undernath her. Earth was on a blanket of blackness, and shooting stars and nameless, forgotten galaxies in all colours imaginable. Next to her was a moon.
"Hi! My name is Luna!" The moon told Emilia. "I'm glad you came, the previous moon was old and boring. All routine and no fun. Know what I mean?"
Emilia smiled in response and bobbed her head.
"I hope we can become friends you and I." It was more of a question than a sentence, but Emilia didn't know. All Emilia knew was that she was the moon. She had no mouth, no body, but she could still somehow talk. Somehow, meaning traveled between the two moons. Emilia and Luna. In the vacuum they could be friends forever, and they could do what they wanted.
"My name is Emilia. Nice to meet you."
With time, Emilia discovered that she had all the power she needed. When she looked at earth, she would hold her breath and squeeze it up into her head. When her head was all red, she could direct the tides and the weather with her eyes. She would do all sort of things with this power.
She focused her eyes on Bulgaria, and werewolves and people howled at her. In Italy, she made the tides rise early for a group of fishermen wishing to set their boat into the water and ride the tides out.
Like this, Emilia and Luna spent the days directing the tides of the world.
Like this, Emilia focused in on her home and turned sideways to reflect more moonlight on the small coastal strip where she lived. She thoroughly confused the pirate at Ebenhorn and laughed a bit. She let the tides carry her message to him.
Paradoxically, Emelia got all she has wanted in life as the moon. She had a voice, power and was free of troubles. Down on earth, her parents gave her all the attention in death, which she had never gotten in life.
Charles and Nina looked up at the moon from their bench outside their house. They were sad, but found strenght in the belief, the tiny speck of hope, that Emilia was out there in the heavens. Watching and listening.
Emilia imagined her parents asked for forgiveness. Forgiveness for the gifts received in death, which had been squandered in life.
She hoped, as they hoped, that the message in the bottle was hers and that it had gotten to them safely.
It was a tiny hope, but it was all they had.
The hope was a bit of a mystery, really.