INSIDE: Chapter 3 – Sketchbook

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Read Chapter 2 here: Bread Crumbs

My current state wasn’t anything to write home about, but so wasn’t anything else, for an estranged relation with my parents had long ago wolfed down any source of comfort that I could have desired. I never forgave them for leaving me at the doorsteps of an orphanage and while I always hoped for them to return one day with open arms to take me into their affections, my solemn wish was that they didn’t exist. These inner conflictions were my constant companion growing up and my only solace was the comfort of my sketchbook. Self insulated from any human interaction, I would often take refuge in my own creations. Sometimes a beautiful sorceress by the name of Fata Morgana would lure me into an enchanting yet fatal mirage and in contrast, oozing with machismo, a triangle would tug a metallic bird right out of a sky, in to the depths of its bowel. However, as the years went by and layers of worldly coat started forming crust on my wallflower, I started losing my passion for this veiled haven and eventually, one day as I tried to return to this hermitage, I realized that I had forever forgotten the cryptic path that I use to tread blindfolded.

A sudden urge to sketch lured me into the spare closet that had not had visitations from me since the time I moved. My hands started searching for this long lost friend, the thought of whose relic of an existence pulled me way out of my tranquil state. An overpowering itch to possess that sketchbook made a troll out my actions and the next thing I knew I was shoving and thrusting things all over the place. Suddenly, a fragment of that red sketchbook cover started peering through, behind the rubble.

An indifferent look of a stranger was what I had expected from this old familiar. I could hardly control myself and gave it a hug, for the last hour had been an emotional ride, even for a recluse like me. Baring its muddled yet fair frame by gently untying the ribbon of its beautiful red veneer that had forced chastity upon its existence for years, I found myself heaving right on top, with a desire to unburden phantasms from my trance. The next few minutes I let go of myself, for its canvas had ways of extracting thoughts into reality and I knew from experience that lesser I struggled, more satisfying would the outcome be.

Not been able to resist myself, I stopped to witness the rise of these amorphous images buried deep within my subconscious. As I flipped through the pages that I had scorched away in the past few minutes, I observed a result that was ominously dark with a charcoal like background, the two figures with a disgust of being recognized were staring right back. One looked relatively old with a thin beard punctuating an otherwise banal face and the other one appeared bewitchingly luring yet mournful. While none of this made any sense, I was willing to take consolation of being able to climb back on this treacherous mountain that had tormented and heckled me for years.

This break in my weekend ritualistic streak brought in some irregularities. I decided to go to the nearby plaza for some grocery. On my way back I met a neighbor whom I had befriended few months back.

Straight out of a Goth saloon, he was a true embodiment of the cult. Conspicuous dark clothes, raven like hair, black lips and nail paint with archaic and undeviating vacant expression was what greeted me at the plaza. He wasn’t much of a talker and that is probably the attribute that served me the most. In some regards I found the Goth subculture quite interesting. Even though its origin only dates back few decades; an inception from gothic rock, a branch of post-punk genre, its revelation dates back to Middle Ages in Europe. Goths had a fair share of contribution to the emergence of Medieval Europe through the fall of Western Roman Empire, but I wasn’t sure how much the current disciples of this fairly young cult knew about their acquired ancestry, still I knew one soul who had peered through the facade of rock, sex, substance and unrivaled dress code. Despite that, I respected the fact that believers followed their heart and not let the conventional guise shape and label their existence.

I found his knowledge on the dark art quite eerie yet startling and gripping, which he would share each time we met. While there was nothing common between the two of us, he was possibly the closest to my plight, cursed by nature to walk alone, at least outside his kind. I was welcomed with a vacant expression, just a slight tip of his head to show his acknowledgment. I only knew him through a mutual acquaintance, my landlord. Already getting weary of this detour from weekend routine, I wanted to head back but I couldn’t refuse the invitation from him for a couple of drinks. Yes, it meant dealing with my chronic trepidations but I was willing to make an exception. The nonstop routine since Friday evening had started to take a toll on my vigilance and while I couldn’t believe that 2 bottles of beer could have made me tipsy, I was willing to go with the theory. I expressed my situation to him, to which he offered to escort me to my place.

I might have soon blacked out; for the next thing I knew, I was sitting on a chair in my apartment. I felt glad to be back in the comfort of my abode, but soon that relief turned to horror, as I felt helpless with not being able to move my extremities. I realized I was bound to a chair, while a foul odor started to fill my heart with fear. Few agonizing minutes later, I saw two figures walking slowly towards me, both in long dark robes and their face covered with hoods. One placed his index and middle finger on my forehead and started chanting verses in a foreign language and the other stood close behind me with one hand cupping my chin. I closed my eyes, expecting the worse.

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