Would she deny the truth even if she knew it?
February 22, 2014
A VG Serial: Dark Side of Night
The room had not been warm since the first snowfall. It had not served as a sanctuary for man’s last grasp of sanity since the first Jewish slave laborers dug the ditches that would hold their bones. The world outside was white and pure. The world outside lied. New snow hid the bitter red stains of sin and shame. Death had no color at all, only dark.
The insane had died long ago.
Even if their hearts insisted on beating, they had died.
No goodbyes and no one to tell goodbye..
Lincoln had seen them all before in another place and another time.
Minds stretched like frayed rubber bands.
Minds melted by electrodes that probed the brain.
Minds left in quiet repose.
Lincoln had not only seen them, he had been one of them.
He still was.
But the doctors let him go.
He was too dangerous to remain behind.
And they hoped he would not come back.
He always did.
The government never let him stay gone for long.
The little man stood, climbed on top of the bedsprings, and looked out the window. Both hands gripped the iron bars.
A grey day.
A grey time.
He hoped the stranger hadn’t seen it.
It would be a good day to make money after all.
“Where is Aliza?” Lincoln asked again. His voice was cold and dispassionate.
“She is dying a little each day,” the little man said.
“I need to see her before she leaves for good.”
“You may be too late.” Bahnker shrugged.
“I’ve come a long way,” Lincoln said. “I have only one question to ask her.”
“You will be disappointed,” Bahnker said. “Aliza denies the truth even though she knows the truth,” the little man said.
“I need to speak with her.” Lincoln said.
“What is it worth?”
“The question is,” Lincoln said, “what is the transaction worth to you?”
“I’m afraid you can’t afford it,” Bahnker said.
“That’s my decision to make,” Lincoln said. “Can you take that chance and wake up tomorrow no better off than you are today.”
“I want to wake up tomorrow outside of the asylum,” the little man said. “Do you really belive you can get out of this place?”
“I got in.”
“They will shoot you.”
“They could have shot me coming in.”
“Then take me with you.”
“The outside world is a miserable place to be,” Lincoln said.
The little man laughed.
It was one of self-pity.
“Not as miserable as in here,” he said.
“How long have you been locked away in here?”
“Ten years, four months, and eighteen days.”
“Why did they think you were crazy?”
“They think everyone is crazy.” He paused a moment, then asked, “Will you do it?”
“I’ll take you with me,” Lincoln said. “But if they shoot, you’ll die with me.”
“If we die,” the little man said, “at least I’ll have one foot touching the other side of freedom. It has been such a long time..”
“Where is Aliza?”
Nathan Bahnker led Lincoln to the far end of the dimly lit corridor and walked through two big doors, marked with a sign: FRAU. NICHT HEREINLASSEN.
Lincoln knew enough German to know that Frau meant Women.
He assumed that Nicht Hereinlassen indicated that he probably wasn’t welcome and should be somewhere else.
Bahnker ignored the sign.
So did he.
The corridor was empty.
All he heard was a woman cackling.
The little man paused at the fourth door on the left.
The cackling grew louder.
Bahnker opened the door, and Lincoln walked in.
The cackling stopped.
The lady seated in the middle of the floor was wearing a blue dress far too large for her. It had once been ringed with flowers, but the pastels had faded. The hem was torn, the collar frayed. It, like the cuffs on her sleeves, had once been white, but the fabric was now dark with grime and suet.
She looked at Lincoln.
And her hands trembled.
“Are you the undertaker?” she asked.
The clock on the wall stopped ticking.
It may have quit ticking a long time ago.
Chapters of Night Side of Dark will be published on Saturday and Sunday.
Please click the title, Night Side of Dark, to read more about Caleb Pirtle III and his novels on Amazon.