A Peek Into the Mind

A peek in to the mind of the antagonist in Dead of Nyte.

Dead of Nyte

The scent of cold rice roused him from sleep. Like the gentle brush of his wife when she rolled over in bed, it brought a welcomed comfort. The bowl arrived every morning before dawn and had become his only luxury. Like breathing in and out, the rice tethered him to a fragile thread of life, of sanity. It embodied his daily quest.

When the imprisonment began, he had used his fingernail to memorialize each sunrise with a hash-mark on the wooden floor of his prison, but after two years ticked by, it just didn’t matter. He had become like a circus animal. Chained by day and caged by night, he performed his mindless tasks from daylight to nightfall.

Nine years of exposure in the sweltering jungle had baked his mind to an anesthetized numbness. The macabre screams of the innocent lives he had slaughtered and the thrashing visions of his buddies’ last breathes vanished from his nightmares. The image of the three-year-old son he left crying on the front porch had long faded like an echo in a secret crevasse, yet there remained a child-sized breach in his memory that yearned to be filled.

Even though his own name retreated so far into the past it seemed of no importance to his daily existence—not worth the effort to recall— the phantom with sergeant stripes stalked day and night. The questions he asked in the beginning—intentionality, cowardice, misinformation, dereliction—had faded with the other bits of his life. But in the void, the face symbolized all his loss and gave sustenance to his present reality.

Sold and resold, stolen and re-stolen, beaten only to revive to be beaten again, if he had ever been a prisoner of war, those days were long past. He was now MIA, yet even more true, a slave who gave willing assent to whoever held the key to his coop— the faceless men who delivered the rice.

So why eat?

Reduced to the most basic human precedence, even pain by whip no longer gave witness to life. It would have been easier to acquiesce to the evidence. Release, rescue, or escape could never be attained. He should have forsaken the thought that the next marauding gang would be someone sent from home to rescue him, and not another warring tribe to seize his servitude. Death offered an almost uncontrollable appeal, yet he fought the longing with each breath. He purposed to stall its final onset because there remained one thing, one leash, one hope— the end of the cage.

He sat up, leaned his back against the familiar bars—his home—and caressed the bowl. Around him, the familiar sounds of the jungle waking for a new day—chattering vernal hanging-parrots and a couple of black crested gibbons singing their morning breeding song—filled his ears.

In his hand the only meal he would see today writhed like a bucket of snakes. He reached in with two fingers, scooped the white rice and maggots into his mouth, and savored the insipid pleasure.

Excerpt by Jearl Rugh, Featured Author    Published with Permission

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Simply a Seed

Moira’s footsteps echoed across the empty stage of the deserted theatre. Gone were the red carpet and golden canopy at the front doors – replaced with plywood, yellow tape and ‘no trespassing’ signs.

She didn’t let that bother her, since she found her way in through a broken window in the alleyway. It was a better place to be instead of school.

Standing at the top of the rolling rickety steps, Moira’s small hand wrapped around a red, leather bound book. On the inside of the cover was an apple core sketched in ink, words written in the margins.

Moira used the tempo of the rain against the metal corrugated roof as she read the poem aloud.

‘You hold in your hands a mystery in words,

Cutting through space and time as easily as a sword.

For this collection of stories, with many games afoot,

Is simply a seed for your imagination to take root.

While many snowflakes fall,

Creating a ground of white

Listen to the Muse’s call

As your woven words take flight.’

Moira tucked the book inside her coat pocket before exploring the many costumes that had remained. From the wool houndstooth deerstalker and matching cloak, to an outfit perfect for Robin Hood or William Tell, the child wondered which world would be best to wander through, if only for a little while.

In another cupboard, Moira found two-piece suits, leather helmets and goggles, reminding her of Amelia Earhart. Beside that were a collection of floral dresses, cloches, fedoras and sunhats. Moira tried all of them, a new character emerging under each one as she looked up at the giant glitter-covered cardboard stars hanging from the ceiling.

In the many drawers found in the dressing rooms, she found loose papers from scripts old and new. Some pages she kept others she left where they were. Moira did the same with the photographs.

She found a Victor-Victrola phonograph buried by posters, maps and banners. Rotating the handle, Moira listened to the melody on the disc. Each note sparkled like a star in her mind; the new notes a new possibility. Maybe if she had lived a hundred years ago, she wouldn’t be so bored now.

Moira knew it was a silly thought, like many of her thoughts that got her into trouble. If the whole world was a stage, something her uncle once said; then she wanted the fastest route to get backstage, out of the spotlight, away from the microphones.

After an afternoon of adventure and anonymity, Moira smiled contently, aware that she would probably return here tomorrow, when time and her sketching kits were on her side. It wouldn’t be difficult to find alternative routes here from home, wouldn’t be hard to fix the window to keep the rain from coming in. Even with the power turned off, Moira knew how to keep herself from being in the dark.

For now, she would play the games and bend the rules without breaking them.

A Snippet by T. Tommia Wright, Featured Author    Published with Permission