Last week was my Chrysalis Debut . I am quite pleased because my story was chosen as Pick Of The Week , warts and all ! For those of you who didn't get the opportunity to read the story , you can do so now by simply clicking on the following :http://writer-in-transit.co.za/chrysalis-experiment-prompt-11/
So here goes prompt no #12 ~~ and it had my brains twisted !!! LOL
DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY TIMES GOD HAS WANTED TO DESTROY THE WORLD ? I THINK WE MUST READ THE SAME NEWSPAPER .
He looked upon his work with a mixture of pain and immense pride . These few measly paintings summed up his life story . This was the result of endless struggle . This was what his life had come to . This was also the fruit of his labour . It gave meaning to his existence . It allowed him to put bread on his table and afforded his children an education .
As a struggling artist , he knew the feeling of hopelessness all too well ; the sense of failure , of inadequacy … the crushing weight of despair when he returned home after a long day , with nothing to put on the table , except a dry loaf of bread …
But he was a fighter ! He would persevere till the end . He was determined to work hard and find a way to move forward ! He was determined that his children would receive a good education and be exposed to a better life . There was a whole world out there , an entire universe of opportunities . He had to find a way to access it for the sake of his children .
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Khanya knew that he was late for his next appointment . As of late , his schedule had become hectic . He could barely keep up with his assignments and knew that he would have to pass some of the load on to Sam . He glanced at his watch , stuffed some papers into his briefcase and snapped it shut .
“Leaving so soon ?” Sam popped his head around the corner of the cubicle .
“I’m already late for my next appointment .”
“Do you still want me to cover the election article for you ? You do remember that it’s due within the next 48 hours ?” He had completely forgotten .
"I'd appreciate that Sam . I owe you one – well , actually , more than one ?" he laughed self-consciously . It was Sam-to-the-rescue , not for the first time either . Khanya had missed three appointments within the last two weeks .
"I haven't been counting ," he was full of good humour . But then , that was just Sam being Sam , a good , trusted friend and colleague . "And don't forget our golf date ," he added , even though no reminder was necessary . This was their once-a-week-outing . Their get-away from the busy office , where the two bachelors worked their 7-day-week-job , churning out stories for the weekly publication .
"How could I forget that ? That's my sanity in this rat-race we've gotten ourselves into ." And that was no exaggeration ! It was a hectic existence . Khanya felt one of his headaches threatening … it was a dull ache at this point …
"You forgot two weeks ago ," Sam reminded him . "I never did ask you about it ? Where were you anyway ?" Khanya couldn't remember why he missed their treasured golf date , or what he had been up to for that entire day . "Where are you rushing off to anyway ?" Sam plonked himself on the tiny couch in the corner of the office .
"I have to follow up on a tip-off ," he was non-committal .
"A tip-off ? Is that all ? It sounds like major intrigue ," Sam looked at him enquiringly . His friend remained tight-lipped . He couldn't say anything further . This could turn out to be a major scoop for him ."Are you okay ?" Sam had noticed the subtle changes in his friend . He put it down to hard work .
"I'm fine . It's nothing a good long soak and an iced beer can't remedy ," he massaged his temples . But Sam was not convinced . For a long time now , his friend had not been himself . Not the person that he knew . And they had been friends for many years . "Have the headaches started again ?" All he got was a look that said , leave it alone !!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Paul remembered the first time he heard The Voice . He had tried to block it out , ignore it …
"You have been chosen !" It was disembodied , yet purposeful . Tiny beads of sweat on his upper lip and forehead trickled down . His pulse hammered in double time and pounded throughout his body . He shook his head in denial , willing the voice to go away .
A light wind arose and each step he made resounded with the cracking undergrowth . He started to run . His hands flailed about wildly and he grunted in pain as he tripped on a stump . "There is no escape , you have been chosen !" The voice extra-ordinary and persistent , seemed to echo in slow motion . The sound of ripping fabric loud in his ears , he felt the prick of thorns which caught at his clothing . "You have a special purpose . You must complete an important mission . It will not be easy but it must be done . You are the one who will have to make sure that it is carried out to the end !" He ran wildly , tripping on vines and weeds in his attempt to fight the undergrowth which seemed intent on keeping him trapped in the woods , determined to block his escape !
It could have been three hours or three minutes … he had lost track of time … he had no energy to run any more ! "Accept the inevitable ! This is your destiny !" He felt defeated . He fell to the ground , his wilting posture pushed his face to the rich earth where the smell of rotting leaves attacked his senses . He breathed deeply in an attempt to restore some normality to his battered emotions . The scent of pine needles penetrated the fogginess that descended upon him . Fatigue captured his worn out body and he slumped to the earth , barely conscious …
It was a long and painful process but he finally realised the utter futility in attempting to escape the voice . At first there had been one or two occassions . In recent times , the visits had become more frequent and the voice had grown in urgency . The most recent visit had been "the one" !
"it is time !" The utter finality of these three words had rendered him weak , dizzy as he tried desperately to keep it together . Apart from the voice , the woods remained quiet , as cold and empty as his compromised psyche .
He had found his life's purpose . His mission . It was an epiphany . God had chosen him , Paul , out of millions of people . He was the one-in-a-million ! His eyes blazed and an empty , deranged laughter echoed and bounced off the walls of the apartment . And to crown it all , the event would be spectacular ! Thousands of people would witness the display , firsthand , and nobody would be able to stop it . He had put the plan in motion . The next crucial step was to deliver the letter to the journalist . Once that was done , there was no going back .God had chosen him . He had heard the voice , listened to the command and now was the time to take action . He was the earthly being who would help the Almighty to accomplish the ultimate destruction ! God wanted to destroy the world ! Wipe it out ! Rid it of all the evil and filth created by mankind ! His crazed and twisted mind churned with endless thoughts and voices , on and on they went , plotting … planning …
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Khanya was terrified . He wondered whether he should have told Sam the truth about his “tip-off” .
He was about to meet face to face with a madman .
The dull ache in his temple had since developed into a strong , consistent throb .
He knew this madman had a letter to deliver to him . The contents of the letter would be catastrophic . He struggled to remember the details of the previous contact with this lunatic . Snippets of images flitted along the edges of his memory … and then slipped away . In the absence of reliable memory , gut instinct prevailed ? He had met this man before ? But when ? On how many occasions ?
His palms were damp , his heartbeat was an erratic rhythm , a chill took over his body and he felt an intense fear , unlike anything he had ever felt before …
The throb deepened … became unbearable …
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
“Did you come alone ?” The cold menacing tone gripped his heart . Khanya nodded , unable to speak .
“The contents of this letter will make you famous , beyond your wildest imagination ! You will be the most sought-after journalist on this planet ! The contents guarantee that you will never be out of work for the rest of your life .”
He reached out to take the letter …
“Don’t listen to him ,” the artist interrupted .He had slipped into the room , unnoticed . Two little kids stood by his side .
"What are you doing here ?" demanded the madman . He was obviously not happy about this intrusion . "I thought I told you that the assignment was off . I'd deliver the parcel myself . And what on earth are THEY doing here ?" He motioned to the youngsters .
Khanya looked at the artist , confused . He knew , without a shadow of a doubt , that he had also met this man before . There was something vaguely familiar about him …
The artist reached out to snatch the letter . But the madman was quicker .
“You fool , you useless , hopeless , idiot !” spluttered the madman .”You want to work hard and expect to be rewarded for it ? Ha ! Look where all your hard work has gotten you !” he laughed bitterly .
"What do you have to show for years of hard work ? Nothing ! No money ! No progress ! Just struggle , struggle , struggle ! Oh , and a few worthless paintings ! What was I thinking , that I could trust you to be a part of such a significant mission ? I must be out of my mind !”
Khanya looked from one to the other … dazed …
“But hard work and perseverance does pay off ! Look at him ! He is living proof of it !” The artist pointed to Khanya .
“You should have listened to me a long time ago ,” the madman faced up to the artist ," and you wouldn't have been in this hell-hole of a situation that you regard as a life !"
The madman made a sudden lunge , grabbing the closest child …Khanya's heartbeat roared in his ears , his glazed expression and ashen face revealing the inner turmoil that was mounting .
"You promised us a special treat —" came a feeble voice …
"I tried my best , but —"
"You're supposed to protect us from —"
"Protect them ? Ha ! Ha ! That's a joke if ever I heard one —"
"You shut up , you egotistical —"
"Sssshhh , keep your voices down —"
They clamoured on and on , each voice urgent and incessant , fighting for prime position in the vocal hierarchy . And in the twisted mindscape , the voices grew louder until they became one deafening roar that sucked him into a dark , gaping vortex , spinning out of control …