The day the Sea stood still

One day the Sea got tired of always going back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. And so, it stopped.  The Wind blew harder and harder hoping to make her friend move again, but the effort was in vain, for the Sea had decided it was time to rest. The Wind asked: ‘Why aren’t you dancing with me anymore?’ Gently, the Sea answers: ‘Because I’m tired. All of these centuries moving up and down, touching the sand and running away, only to come back up and touch it once more, always rising and falling, and for what?’ ‘I don’t know’, whispered the Wind, ‘but I like dancing with you. Goodbye old friend, I shall go looking for another dancing partner’. ‘Goodbye’, answer the Sea. The Wind went away, not expecting to return.

The day crossed the sky until it dived into the Western horizon. From the other side the night was born. And with it came the the Moon, full and white, her pale light gently caressing the dark waters, impatiently waiting for the Sea to rise to look at her. But the Sea didn’t rise. Partly frustrated, partly intrigued, she asked: ‘Why don’t you rise to admire me tonight?’, to which the Sea replied: ‘My dear Moon, for ages and ages, every day and every night I used to rise to more closely look at you and each time I would fall back down again to admire your amazing beauty against the starry sky. But after all these years I am old and tired, and I need to rest.’ With great sadness the Moon said: ‘My dear Sea, how I will miss your devoted admiration!’ And so the Moon, vain as she was, spent her time admiring her own image in the calm watery mirror of the Sea. But she soon got bored now that she had lost her favourite admirer, and quickly crossed the sky to go to bed. As soon as she disappeared, the day came up again. The Sun didn’t understand why the night had been so short, but he didn’t mind and actually enjoyed it, for it gave him a lot more time to reign in the sky.

And then, the Men arrived. They came in large wooden ships, with big pearly sails, always rowing, and rowing and rowing. They had to row because they couldn’t use their sails without Wind.  They rowed until they didn’t have the strength to row anymore. In a moment of despair one of the Men shouted to the sky: ‘Where are you Wind? Why aren’t you here to fill our sails?’ A seagull that was passing by responded: ‘The Wind left because the Sea refuses to dance’. At first, the Men didn’t quite believe in it but, after several months of waiting for a breeze that never appeared, they gave up and, just like the Wind and the Moon, they also decided to leave.

The Sea was now all alone. Even the clouds didn’t visit him, for the clouds need Wind to travel.  The days became longer and hotter, for the Moon was easily bored by the Sea’s monotonous company. After months of excruciating heat and unbearable solitude, the Sea, missing his friends, reconsidered his decision. Even though he was disappointed in his friends for leaving him, he realised that he really enjoyed dancing with the Wind, gazing at the Moon and being tickled by the Men’s ships. He decided that he would move again, even if it was exhausting to him. And so he did.

The first one to notice was the Moon, who was delighted to have her dedicated lover back. That night lasted the equivalent of two days, for they missed each other very much. When the Moon finally went to sleep and the Sun, who was very upset for having to wait for so long, finally came up again, the Sea wondered what he could do to bring back the Wind. He eventually decided to ask the birds to go look for her. They went to land, returning hours later with the Wind in their wings. The Wind was very happy to have her old dance partner again, and so they danced like never before. All of this dancing was very noisy, for the waves were very big and were crashing madly against the rocks. When the Men heard this, they rapidly got inside the ships and sailed to the Sea to celebrate. The Sea wasn’t alone anymore. From that day forward, the Sea never stopped again. Sometimes he’s in a quieter mood, other times he may be in a great big rush, but he is always rising and falling, going and coming. Never again will he stay still, so that never again he will be alone.

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A good deed

I woke up with a headache and a drooling mouth. When I tried to clean it I found out that my hands were shackled to the wall. As I tried to make sense of my situation, my eyes met another pair, which silently gazed at me. He said something, but his voice was merely background noise while my brain attempted to untangle the thoughts racing through my mind.

“Can you hear me?” He shouted at me. My line of sight shifted towards his worried expression.

“Yes, I hear you… What’s going on?”

“I don’t know. Were we kidnapped? I was hoping that maybe you had some answers. What do you remember?”

“I remember my warm bed.” I replied. Perhaps if I close my eyes I’ll wake up there again. His only reply was a shadow of frustration that briefly perched on his brow. But it didn’t linger for long.

“So what’s your name?” He asked, almost as naturally as someone who chats up a stranger at a bar.

“I’m Mary.”

“I’m David.”

He was about to say something else, when the door was opened. David curled himself up even more against the wall as a man walked in. He kneeled in front of me and grabbed my cheeks with his boney fingers, turning my face one way and then another, while he seemed to conduct a very superficial inspection of my state. When he was satisfied, he dropped his hand on my leg and smiled with a mouth so ugly that most of his teeth had already ran away.

“What a fine specimen we have here,” he giggled. I didn’t enjoy the sudden intimacy, so I kicked him in the ribs. Being not much more than a walking skeleton, he was easily thrown across the room. When he got up, I recognised the fire in his eyes and took his kicks and punches without complaining.

“Tiny but feisty, hum?” He snarled at me on his way out.

David blabbered something about me being crazy and to keep my head down, but I was more worried about assessing the situation, so I ignored him. It must be so distracting to have all those feelings demanding constant attention inside your head. I never understood why normal people are so fond of emotions. Right now, his were turning him into a depressing ball of human sweat.

In the midst of my thoughts, I realized that he was trying to ask me something.

“What do you do for a living?”

“Does it matter?”

“No, but… I don’t know, talking helps…”

It took me a second to decide what I would answer. Telling him the truth would cause him either to freak out even more or to start yelling at me again. My patience has its limits.

“You don’t want to know. Now calm down, and shut up.” He seemed taken back.

“Why don’t I want to know?”

I forced myself to breathe in and sigh out. “Look, all you have to know about what I do for a living is that I’m used to this kind of situations. So let’s make a deal: I promise to get you out of here alive if you promise to keep your mouth shut and do what I say.”

“Escape? Can you do it?”

“Do we have a deal?”

He thought for a while. He was probably weighing his slim options, whether he could trust me and whether he actually had a choice. Finally, he agreed. He got a morsel of hope and I got some peace and a much needed helping hand. Everyone’s happy. And they say I’m not a people person…

 

***

 

A few hours later, the door opened again, now revealing the bag of bones that had paid me a visit before, followed by a chubby tall guy, wearing a mafia stereotype and holding a black clipboard.

“We’ll have to do the girl first,” said Mafia Guy, scrutinizing the papers on his clipboard. “The other one is running late. Get her ready.” He took a last look at me and disappeared, leaving the door half open. Probably, my short stature and girly look gave me the appearance of a job that could easily be handled by one person. I was appreciative of the opportunity but also slightly offended.

Bones walked towards me with a key in his hand. As soon as I heard that ‘click’, I quickly moved my arm away from his reaching hand, and landed my fist on his face. He fell backwards and I threw my legs around his neck. I pulled him closer as he struggled and covered his mouth with my free hand to keep him silent, while trying to use my full weight to smother him until his consciousness drifted away. Then, I seized the key that had fallen next to us, released my left hand and went over to free David. Frisking Bones quickly, I found his gun, checked it for bullets and that it was ready to fire.

After putting my head carefully out of the door, I realised that our room opened into a hallway with a flight of stairs at the opposite end, leading up. David followed my steps cautiously, with wide eyes and fidgety hands. The first door on the right was open and we could hear voices, so that’s where I started. With my back against the wall, I listened attentively and was able to distinguish two voices. Let’s hope there isn’t a mute in there as well, I thought. I gestured David to stay put and I slid in, firing the borrowed gun at two men dressed in surgical gowns. In a matter of seconds, there were no more voices, but simply a heavy silence floating in the room. I told David to get in and look for answers in the pile of documents lying on the table, while I stood by the door waiting for anyone that might have heard the shots. I could see that he was shaking as he went in, and he didn’t get much better once he noticed the two bodies on the floor. Reluctantly, he went through the papers scattered on the table.

“Oh god…” He muttered.

“Calm down, what is it?”

“It’s… organ lists. With prices, names…”

So, we were dealing with organ hunters. That explained it. The bastards almost forced me to do a good deed.

“These papers,” he continued, “these are medical files.”

Medical files? They had access to my file? I moved away from the door and had a look. Sure enough, there was my medical file, along with David’s and a few others.

While I was distracted inspecting the papers, something moved by the door. In a split second, my instincts took over and I ducked under the table, pulling David down with me, as a wave of bullets hit the wall above us. Under the table, I took aim at the shooter’s legs and when he fell I took aim at his head. It was Mafia Guy. I waited a while and then got up, dragging the terrified dead-weight with me. I handed David the man’s gun, who looked at it as if it was about to bite him.

“You know how to use that?” I asked. I took his resigned countenance as a yes. We moved on to the next door but it was locked.

“Let’s just get out of here.” David begged.

“Not yet.” These people needed me for a reason and they had access to a lot of information. After all, finding matching donors for organ donation wasn’t easy and they wouldn’t leave a witness walking about. I wasn’t going to live my life looking over my shoulder, and going to the police was out of the question for me. This had to end here.

We headed to the last door and walked into a large, pale surgical room. Poorly hidden behind the surgical table, I found a nurse shivering and sobbing in a pool of tears, which I quickly put out of her misery. I could hear David gasp in horror behind me. I didn’t care. I wasn’t leaving witnesses that might come after me. Suddenly, my eye caught a familiar face. Crouching behind one of the machines was my doctor. The one that was always generously paid to fix me after my assignments and to keep what happened in his office away from the police’s ears.

“Care to explain?” I asked him as he was getting up. He looked at me for a while and then greeted David, who was as shocked to see him as I was. I could see the fear in the doctor’s eyes, even though the old man liked to play tough.

“Well, what do you want me to say?” He responded defiantly.  “Taking a crook like you away from this world could almost be considered a civic duty.”

“I prefer the term contract assassin. So what? Didn’t I pay you enough?”

“Are you kidding? They are giving me over £100.000 for your heart alone. And something close to that for Mr. Hill’s liver.”

My heart was being sold for £100.000? My little black heart was finally worth something. I was flattered.

I saw that the doctor had noticed the gun in David’s hand and guessed what he was about to suggest.

“Mr. Hill, as you can see, there is a lot of money involved here and, if you help me, a part of it could be yours. The rest of the men are bringing the patient for the transplant as we speak, and they will soon put an end to this little stunt of yours. But I can talk to them on your behalf. After all, this lady is a very bad person. You’d be saving innocent lives…”

So the patient was coming over to us? Good, I would like to have a chat with the idiot who got me into this mess. I looked at David, curious about what he would decide. Somehow, I wasn’t very surprised when his shaking hand starting to point the gun at me.

“Here I am saving your life and this is what you choose?” I asked, amused.

“You’re just saving yourself! Even if we do get out, you’re probably going to kill me too.”

My reply was to shoot the gun out of his hand and to put a bullet in the doctor’s head.

 

***

 

I bandaged David’s hand while he stared at me in confusion, and we finally went up the stairs. He followed me around in a silence of contrition, as I inspected each room until I was sure that the house was empty.

It was night outside and the cold air hit me like a wall of ice when I opened the door. There was nothing but forest all around us and a little dirt road that started from the house and disappeared into the trees.

I pushed him out.

“Off you go now. Follow that path and you should find your way out.” He seemed surprised. “I promised I would get you out, didn’t I?  What are you waiting for? Run!”

And run he did. Probably thought I would shoot him in the back. That’s people for you. They always assume I’m as petty as them. They forget that in order for them to hurt my feelings I would need to have feelings in the first place.

I hid in the house and only had to wait for half an hour before they arrived. Two escorts with their guard down and a sick man. It was a fast job. I took their guns just in case, as well as a pack of cigarettes and a lighter, and headed downstairs to get the files. David’s too. The records of our existence were soon reduced to a pile of ashes.

Once outside, my nostrils took a deep breath of fresh air.  I lit a cigarette. I figured I might as well. After all, being healthy almost got me killed.

(This story was created for the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge)