“Illusion is the first of all pleasures”
23.57 30th September
‘How do you know you’re real? Can you prove that you are real, that this is all real without any reasonable doubt? Is this World real, or does it die with every blink you take, only to be reborn as you open your eyes. Am I a figment of your imagination or you mine?’ Ethan shrewdly asked, staring coldly into her exquisite emerald eyes that glinted from under her long flowing dark hair.
Hearing them viciously pounding their way through the door, Maya looked desperately around the dark dust encrusted room. It was relatively empty containing a grand decaying oak table at the centre, upon which were placed several burnt out candles housed in shabby wide-based candleholders. There were two timid chairs jutting out at either end of the table.
‘We don’t have time, they’re after our blood,’ Maya answered taking a step closer to Ethan, while beginning to panic at the intermittent gunfire that was beginning to break out from the other side of the door.
‘You have to believe. We could die right here, but it wouldn’t matter,’ he replied remaining calm.
‘If we die right here, we die forever. How do I know? Pain, when we feel pain it hurts, that’s real. If I cut my skin I bleed. If we die, we die! Life, reality, exists relative to death,’ Maya answered catching a glimpse of a large blacked out picture window on the opposite wall to the door. She ran toward the window, drew her gun that had until now remained hidden in her jeans under her fitted leather jacket, and fired several shots at the window. Shards shattered everywhere producing an effect similar to a thickset snow globe, before silently proceeding to slice flesh and taste the blood beneath. Her face glistened with a rose coloured tinge as the venomous shards left their mark.
‘You coming?’ she asked, while moving towards the oversized window ledge that was raised several feet off the ground. Seconds passed while blood proudly dripped from her hands, down the length of her thigh skimming leather boots to join the broken glass on the floor, until the silence was broken.
‘Coming where?’ Ethan asked serenely, holding his position firm despite the growing riot behind the weakening door.
‘Don’t do this baby, please,’ she pleaded with an uncharacteristic vulnerability that Ethan had not heard before. There was an unsettling terror worming its way through her body, tightening every fibre of her being culminating in an intense reflex nausea at the pit of her stomach.
‘Believe me. By your own admission reality can only be real relative to a non-reality. That’s why we dream. This isn’t real, I promise you. Whether you jump out that window or I stand here to greet the gunfire, our fate remains the same.’ Ethan steadily replied, with a quiescent tone having accepted his destiny. He remained peacefully stagnant, unflinching as the door broke to release the bloody tyrannical group behind. Shots were fired. He restfully fell with a jolt.
The mixture of men and women each dripping and clotted with blood, sycophantically praised one another clearly unsure who had fired the mortiferous shot. Their leader knelt beside Ethan raising a knife precipitating an ecstatic roar from the surrounding crowd. This was the group of vigilantes who believed they brought forward justice, a group with heavily blood stained uniforms, hateful contempt in every word they spoke and hollow faces with perturbed eyes that brimmed with bloodlust and craved mutilation. Silence momentarily fell, only to be destroyed by a slicing sound resembling the sound of a sharpened knife cutting a firm orange. Ethan was gone. Maya stood motionless. She did her best to rip her eyes away from a heavily blood stained Ethan, as her throat burned and neck muscles tensed with shock. The baleful voices culminated into a horrific roar as they caught sight of Maya, ready to tear her to shreds limb by limb, organ by organ, cell by cell.
Time seemed to slow down as she could barely register what had happened, but turned away just in time to see a uniform approaching her from behind with a gun pointed directly at her within point blank range. In one smooth reflex motion Maya launched a roundhouse kick throwing the gun out of his hands, and in the next blink her palm snapped up causing his nose to explode as blood splattered everywhere. The uniformed man fell to his knees, while Maya executed a sidekick slamming her metallic heel into the chest of a second uniform who had closed in on her. She sped toward the window, simultaneously seizing a chair in her right hand and flung it at the remaining flock although it did little to slow them. Having gained pace as she approached the window, Maya leapt onto the ledge.
There was no choice but to jump. With every shot that was fired her heart hammered gaining momentum trying to break free from her chest. It was hard to take in that Ethan was gone. As this hellish reality permeated her consciousness her eyes began to sear and the room appeared to ripple, with each drop that ran from her eyes. She took one last glimpse at a motionless Ethan on the floor, and then saw the furious flock practically upon her. Turning she dived out the two-storey window, being acutely reminded of reality as a bullet skimmed her thigh. Gravity pulled every inch of Maya to ground, as she hit the floor with an elegant roll. Bullets continued to be fired from the window.
The street she had begun to race down was almost silent, possessing a tranquillity that was disturbed by her regular heel strikes pounding against the tarmac. Parked cars decorated both pavements. She passed several restaurants and pubs from where carefree oblivious laughter could be heard while the war waged outside. Maya slowed down and began scanning for a car that could be hotwired, aware that on foot she stood no chance. After a couple of hundred yards she stopped, there it was a car worthy of the name. The AC Cobra, glowing red with its 7L V8 engine, sculptured side panels and 45-degree angled windscreen – the definition of perfection. It had been defaced with a hard top hood, but nevertheless was worthy of a prayer. It was for times like this that Walter had told her to carry a slim jim, which she removed from her jacket pocket before proceeding to slim the door panel. She glided into the front seat breathing hard, recalling the wire diagrams she had briefly viewed as a child.
‘Sorry baby, but needs must,’ she whispered, instantaneously blemishing the interior by pulling off the cowling under the steering wheel. Within seconds she had located, stripped and twisted two wires tightly together, and then proceeded to strip half an inch of the ignition wire. Next moment the car started with a familiar roar, as an old dormant passion completely took hold and her face momentarily lit with excitement. The car set forth and devoured the street, begging for road. Her mind idled, going over the proceedings of the last few hours. ‘He could have come,’ she thought to herself holding back tears, hurtling away with no set destination in mind, only a death-defying need to flee from the roaring engines that could now be heard behind her.