The Mask

Sighing, I got up from my slumber. The call of the King had just arrived, and there were things to do, works to fulfill. I cracked my tired joints and raised my heavy body to its full height. Life is so intransigent, it just always wants to keep existing, never gives up even if your body is in excruciating pain.
The axe was securely placed on a ledge on the wall of my hut. It was heavy, monstrously so. But, heavier than it was my guilt. So much guilt trapped inside my body. My soul was tainted, impure. Yet, what could I do? I am bound to do whatever the Majesty pleases.
Securing the rusted old axe in its place in my huge trousers, I grabbed the face-mask and went out to the King’s Palace.
The horns bellowed. I pitied the blowers. They needed to force air in those huge trumpets every hour of the day. No one could keep the job for more than five years. After that, they could seldom talk. It permanently damaged their vocal cords.
I walked on towards the courtyards of the mighty palace. The sky was plastered with dirty clouds. The air smelt rusty. The whole world had a brownish tint to it. I don’t know if it was just me, or not, but even grass and water, things that should have been perpetually colourful, were just a shade of brownish-red. The very fabric of nature seemed to be blurry and smudged.
I put on my mask as I neared the crowd of people around the guillotine. The mask was black in colour, and covered my entire face, except my eyes, for which it had two holes. The people pated to give me way as I walked on towards the guillotine. I could feel the eyes of many people on me, but it all quickly went away, as the King came on horse, dragging the prisoner.
The prisoner was one of our own. He was given capital punishment for being a rebel, and fighting the authority of the King. I had to give it to him: he had an ironclad will. Even now, I could see the cold determination, and warm hope in his eyes. It was beneath him to plead to me for sparing him, but the growing fear inside him must have persuaded him, for his eyes looked into mine, and requested mine to spare him.
I could not.
I wanted to.
I so wanted to create a revolution to overthrow our whimsical, and superficial King, who got to where he was merely due to lineage, and nothing else. HE involved in ostentatious debaucheries, excessive self-indulgence, and was not fit to be a ruler at all.
Digressing from my meaningless rant, I would like to go on with what happened.
The soldiers surrounding the prisoner forced his head in the board, and locked his throat in place, with his face facing the ground. As the advisor of the King told the onlookers of the terrible crime committed by the criminal, I saw some restlessness among the spectators. They wanted to see the action. They wanted to see the blade drop on the throat, which would fuel their fanatical nationalism and utter blind trust towards the throne.
“Now, I command you, the Executioner to drop the blade, and banish this imbecile to hell, and gradual oblivion. Let no soul like his ever step on our land again.”
The timing had to be perfect. As soon as he finished uttering the words, I let go of the rope that kept the blade in place.
Unlike popular romanticized moments, time didn’t slow. The blade made a squeaky sound as it fell down, and partially severed the head. Being rusted, and uncared for, it didn’t make a clean cut. So, I took the rope, pulled it, and let it go again. This time, it completely cut the throat.
The advisor called out to the people: “Don’t make yourself experience that. Live in harmony with the King.”
The crowd dissipated as the people went out to their respective postings, or their homes. The soldiers took the body and put it in an open coffin-like structure lying nearby. I picked up the head. After the head is severed, it still will be conscious for about five minutes, my experience told me. And my experience was accurate. I could see the blacks of his eyes still moving in perpetual confusion, and his mouth uttering a groan-like-sound.
I put the head alongside the body. The soldiers carried it away to dump it somewhere in the hills.
I stretched my body and went home. My bleak outlook of life and nature had not changed a bit.
In my home, I looked in the mirror, and was surprised to see that I was still wearing the mask. I looked so confident, and strong with it on. Then, I took it off, and my wrinkles and scars showed who I really was:
A Tired Slave.

The Accidents

The breeze tickled me lightly, caressing my exposed face. The weather was gloomy, with clouds hiding the sun, and rain threatening the pedestrians. I didn’t mind it. I was lost in my own blank world, walking around aimlessly, unable to think.

The breeze was carrying away the frosty air that had already dampened my clothes, which were all black in color.

The breeze picked up a little speed, waking me up from my unfocused reverie. I shook my head to calibrate myself into where I was and what I was doing. I suddenly shivered. The cold, which I hadn’t felt till then, suddenly bit me like many small animals through my thin clothes.

I felt the numbness of my fingers and my face. Weren’t they always like that? The street was empty except for a homeless person shivering near an alley. He was thin, sickly and was perpetually coughing. I wondered how the people living in those buildings bore all that noise.

I felt the stick in my hand and thought if I should take him. It would be better for him, and all others living there, wouldn’t it?

My clothes stuck against me as the wind suddenly picked up speed. I could feel my thin skin against my bones.

I smiled. Not now. I left him there. Let him cough a little more.

He was an accident.

I walked on more, leaving the noisy coughs behind.

I got into a nearby house.

In the second floor, there was a young woman, about 20 years old, preparing water to bathe her little son of no more than one year of age. She picked her son up and gently rocked him in her arms. The little kid’s eyes were of a bright blue color; curious little eyes trying to learn more about the world around him.

The woman looked happy and content for a while, before again looking haggard and unwell. She was a single mother, with an accidental pregnancy. The kid took away her future, her whole life. Her escapades were finally catching up to her. The society no longer wanted her. She wanted to start life anew in a new place, with no-one there to remind her of her old life.

She wanted a new beginning.

She whispered in her child’s ear, “I’m sorry.”

She then placed the kid into the tub brimming with water and held him under the water. The natural instinct of the baby made him hold his breath for a while. His innocent eyes turned wild for a moment before settling down. The eyes lost their brightness and happiness. The brain stopped functioning shortly afterwards. There was no struggle. He was dead. A bright future suddenly doesn’t exist.

His mother took her hands off her baby. The trembling hands reached towards the table to get her mobile phone. She called the police, and lied in the corner of the room, crying softly yet noisily.

Later, while giving a statement to the police, she said, “It was an accident.”

Two days later, I saw her in the county jail. She had not been convicted yet. She cut her wrists in the evening of that day. I still remember her glassy eyes looking at me as her life ended.

I smiled. It comes to everyone: the over-ambitious, the under-ambitious, and all the collateral damage between them.

A few days later, I met a boy on the streets.

He was raped, brutally so. He was lying in a dark pathway completely naked. Blood poured from all the orifices of his body. His male appendage had been horribly mutilated. His breathing was ragged and uneven. He couldn’t move.

But, he saw me. One of his eyes was covered with dirt and blood. With the other, he looked at me.

“Who are you?” he cried in a feeble and broken voice.

The hope he had on his eyes when he saw the outline of my body suddenly extinguished as I got near him.

Then he died.

“It was an accident. We didn’t mean to kill him.” said the offenders.

It was not an accident.

They didn’t get a significant prison time.

He was called a queer.

They didn’t care for him.

I didn’t smile.

I withdrew myself from the world.

I had been putting up a façade of strength and inhumanity in all my travels.

But, periodically, I look at myself.

I have been scarred by the things I have seen. I have already been reduced to skin and bone, have seen lots of horrifying things.

Still nothing is able to top the absolute horror that humans can create.

I watch over all of the humans.

But, who will watch over me?

Who will think about, and for me?

I am death.

And, I am scarred and petrified by life.