The Alley of Death

Few minutes to midnight I crossed the gate between the bright and the dark.

Leaving the heartbeat of music behind me, leaving my friends dancing, flirting, drinking in the crowd. Satiated for a while with normal human emotions, I headed my home and lab.

“We repel them, no problem” – the watchwoman at the gate was relaxed – “children are safe inside” – she said, sturdy in her black outfit, anarchist emblems clear and on display. A pillar of safety. A night warrior, protecting those inside.

I passed, waving good-night.

And I found myself in an alley of death.

Through the darkness of the warm Greek night, enveloped with the city lights, dark silhouettes surrounded me. Trees and statues of the Nomiko square, standing around, frozen in dramatic poses.

Then they moved. Thin, gnarly figure in black approached me, mumbling. Once handsome and tall, man was bone-dry now, his joints stiff, all body bent under an invisible burden. Hungry eyes focused on me, hunting for a momentary rift in my posture, ready to grab for few Euro. “No, my friend” I said, feeling bitter taste on my tongue.

My training kicked in; angles, vectors, movements flashing in my field of view, rustles and hiss of breath adding more information. I did not feel like dodging an encounter.

Unnecessarily. He stayed where he was, let me pass slowly by. I deliberately kept leisure pace, balanced body and all feelers out and ready. You never let yourself send a victim signals.

From behind. Two pairs of feet, walking much brisker pace, overcoming me. Those two had more life in them, although there was hardly a difference in their look. Dealers, perhaps, in pursuit for another drop of life they can drain from limp bodies – to keep themselves in the ranks of predators and in favors of their owners. They paid no attention to me.

It took me a hundred more paces to get through. I was barely turning my head, passing by them – frozen in the fall, like their own grave statues. Urban cemetery angels alive.

A woman in neon pink dress, with the face of death and powerless amulets adorning bony cleavage.

A man of big and sturdy frame, with scraps of muscles still keeping him almost straight. Another, with waning flame of thought in his eyes, struggling to aim his needle into a vanishing vein.

Alone, in pairs, in groups, scattered around. On the lawn, curbs, banks and stone walls. One ghostly family picnic of death. A dark and bitter reflection of the festival I just left behind me. A  Do-It-to-Yourself graveyard.

I finally returned to the world of the living. I kept in mind not to look back.

Would it do them any good if I try to help them? The only help I could imagine would be bringing them quick and merciful death, to cut their slow-motion suicide short. How far, how high should one aim to reach those who designed and put in motion this death machine, which tiny cogwheel I glimpsed last night?

“Meditation of heart”, said N.

My heart is full of fire and lead. Perhaps this is the answer.


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