Another day, another tragedy. There is no room for remorse here. They are revolutionaries, and revolutionaries have no time for regrets. Life will not allow him such a luxury. If he were to question every action he took, then there would be no time left for the action itself. It was the sad way in which life worked. As the leader of the Circus, he had to make quick, effective decisions. If there were casualties along the way, it was he who would face them.
With a morose sigh he leaves the tent, lending a curt nod to the people he passes. A routine examination and he's herded into the elevator alongside two others. There is polite conversation, but they cannot escape the sense of awkwardness in the air. After all, once they leave headquarters, their demeanours change. It is their way of life, and they cannot alter it. Their very survival depends on the ability to wear a mask and take it off as per requirement. Jhonen is no different. No matter how many times he is hailed as a leader underground, above it, he is simply a man.
The doors slide open and they walk out together, heading down the same meticulous path in order to avoid detection by street security cameras. They stop outside the House of Wolves, and go their separate ways. Jhonen walks slowly, taking in the sentinels of the street, lampposts and traffic lights, lined up like convicts on the death row, waiting for speeding metal to end their stagnant lives.
Stores flash slogans at him, crying out in shrill voices, each one not unlike the other, till the cries blur into a mess of noise. He ignores them all. They are of no use to him. Once or twice, he hears nothing and stops, intrigue guiding him into the silent shop, devoid of fanciful colours and posters. He leaves with a knick-knack or two, nothing that one would consider special. But to him, each knick-knack is a memory of a time when lives were not dominated by superficial ideals and fantasies.
He walks on, plain and ordinary, sometimes catching the glance of a colleague amongst the crowd. Hyraxe is the most conspicuous of the lot. Dressed from head to toe in orange and purple, the boy seems unaware of the impact of his outfit on the eyes of innocent bystanders. His hair isn't any better, with prominent streaks of white and red amongst the black. Jhonen only dips his head and moves by.
He journeys through several alleyways, only to find himself in the industrial district, where the sky is screened by a thick coat of grey. His lungs have grown to tolerate the putrid smoke, and he will face the consequences in the future, but for now he carries on past the ashen structures, into the streets of pain and hopelessness.
Every day, he walks past eyes filled with despair. Every day, he compels himself to ignore the outstretched hands. Every day, he reminds himself of his humanity. Human beings live to serve themselves. They live in order to maintain the lifestyle they have been given. The rich remain rich, the poor remain poor and the average remain just that. Average. It is how life works. Selfishness and greed are the two most prominent characteristics of human nature and they are never ignored.
A tug on his jacket brings his attention down to his waist, where a little girl, who looks to be no more than six years old, is staring up at him with plaintive, doe brown eyes. He knows he cannot give in to her. It would only serve to attract more of them. Gently, he removes her hand from the black cloth and turns to go. Small, skinny fingers wrap themselves around his hand, wrenching once again. He shifts his gaze back to the girl. She is pulling him. She wants him to follow her. Against his better judgement, he does so.
He's heard the stories before. Of how little children are sent to lure unsuspecting pedestrians to their undoing, by leading them straight into the hands of masked men. Jhonen is not afraid though. With an occupation like his, he cannot afford to travel unarmed.
His assumptions are killed when she leads him to a small ditch, where a weathered teddy bear lies, forlorn. He casts his gaze once around the open area, to make certain that he is not about to be ambushed. Once sure, he clambers down into the drain, dismissing the pungent odour and plucking the stuffed toy from the mucky water. The girl receives her plaything with a sombre disposition, carefully brushing off flecks of dirt and grime off the false fur before hugging it slowly and tightly to her chest, eyes closed.
Jhonen climbs out of the toxic heap, scraping his shoes across the concrete in an attempt to somewhat clean them. The girl watches him for a brief moment, before running off in a hurry. He lets her go. The stench of the ditch follows him as he continues his journey, but he does not mind it as much as he should have. Human nature has its flaws, but it is not without its positives either.
The horizon is tinted with pinks, purples and orange when he returns to the main city streets. It reminds him of Hyraxe and his peculiar outfit, albeit slightly more subtle. If the sky were to truly look like his friend, the world's population would go blind within minutes.
Silently, he wonders where the girl is; if she is safe. Immediately after, he wonders why he suddenly cares. Perhaps she reminds him, that good can indeed be found within humanity, no matter how small that piece of goodness is. Or perhaps he just has a soft spot for children. He smiles to himself. It is a wry smile, not one of love and compassion. Jhonen smiles because he knows that he is only attempting to fool himself, into believing that he might still have a sense of warmth and care.
It takes him another half hour to arrive at the dingy apartment. Today has been the longest journey to date. The girl had taken up much of his time. Too much, he thinks. The jacket falls to the floor, soon followed by a faded shirt, the word "Anthrax" emblazoned proudly across the front. His suspicions are confirmed when he checks his pocket for the wallet he'd been carrying. It is missing. The girl had successfully lured him into her trap, robbing him blind whilst he retrieved her teddy bear. He grins at the shirtless figure in the mirror. She had been crafty.
He does not bother to make a police report. He cannot. A police report will require him to reveal his identity, to list down his address and his phone number. It is he who will get arrested, not the girl. High treason tends to overshadow petty thievery amongst the courts. And so, he is content to contemplate the day's events, with a mixture of bitterness, humour and slight awe.
One of the things that stands out in his mind is the girl's toy. It is the one thing that can effectively sum up the way humanity treats its own kin. The poor are the bears, worn out and beaten down. The rich are those who coo and cry over the dejected toys, hugging them to their chests, petting them affectionately for the cameras. And in the end, the bears are discarded, like refuse, thrown into a gully in favour of the shiny plastic dolls, well dressed and highly sought after.
Jhonen smiles once again. The TV is on. A woman dressed in white silk is speaking out about the plight of the impoverished, encouraging families to donate what they can. Silently, he wonders, how many people watching, will cry heartbreakingly for the destitute, before flicking to another channel.
Comments (3 Comments)
- JInnYenn - 07/04/2009
- Interesting? I like it, you have tallent... You could probably use it for English assignments... keep up the good writing smile
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- tikytik - 06/18/2009
'Silently, he wonders, how many people watching, will cry heartbreakingly for the destitute, before flicking to another channel.'
That one takes the cake. Good job on this one; I personally prefer it to your previous story.
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- Mo_the_Half - 06/18/2009
- I like your vocab! I have no dictionary like this. :3
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