Here is the last chapter of Part I of Marcello’s Revenge. This will conclude my postings of the novel. I am working on part two and hope to have it finished by the end of the year. I hope you enjoyed it and thank you very much for reading it. Feel free to comment as feedback is always welcome and appreciated. You can find all the chapters:
I was in the common room of the Galloway Treatment Center. A large spacious area with rows of plastic folding tables with benches, and chairs lined up by large windows for their clients to enjoy the scenery. It was, all in all, a dining area, but called the common room as people would socialize there, play games, meet guests or family members, or just spend some time to themselves reading. There are no televisions in Galloway, but there is a centralized radio with speakers mounted in the ceiling of the common room and in the hallways, and over it The Circle Game was playing at a low volume.
A bright, nearly blinding white light caused by the morning sun reflecting off of the newly fallen snow and white clouds hanging heavy in the sky illuminated the room. There was only one occupant, an elderly woman I guessed from her short gray hair, sitting in an Adirondack chair, looking out a window with her back to me. I approached her, and at reaching her side found it to be Sophia. Her face was youthful, smooth and lovely as when we were just married, but her hands were wrinkled and marked with liver spots and thick blue veins, as aged as her hair. A plaid, woolen blanket covered her from the waist down, though it was quite warm in the room.
“It snowed last night,” she said in a youthful voice. She fell silent for a moment before continuing. “It will make your travel more difficult.”
“Yes,” I replied. I knew that I had a journey to take, and that it was to begin that day, but where to and for what purpose I could not say. The knowledge existed, I was sure, but lay waiting in the shadows, to be revealed as it chose, and only on its terms. I felt kind of unconcerned to the matter, though, enjoying the calm that came with the indifference.
“Have you heard it said that the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed?” she asked.
“Yes, I have.”
“I wonder. What is the value of this mustard seed on Mars?” I didn’t answer, preferring to believe the question was rhetorical since I did not fully comprehend the analogy much less her question. “Here is your bag,” she went on reaching for a bag that was on the other side of her chair. A red back pack with black straps. I took it from her and it felt light, almost as if it were empty. After thanking her, I began to turn away to go. “If you see him, please remember not tell him about it. He won’t understand.”
Instinctively I understood what she was saying, but for some reason my mind could not comprehend who she spoke of or what not to tell this person. I turned back to face her again and bent down to kiss her forehead, the smell of her perfume, faint and forgotten, echoing in the air.
“I won’t,” I said. “It will be safe. But I have a long way to go, and had better get started.”
“I will miss you.”
“And I you.”
And so I left the room, walking through the corridors in route the front door. The whole place appeared to be recently abandoned. There were the signs of life, lights were on, the music that was playing, some of the doors to the rooms open, revealing an open book on a bed, a half eaten meal on a serving tray, paperwork on a desk. But there was no one there. The smell of pine permeated the place, but it was evident it was from cleaning solutions that were recently used than from the forest full of the trees just outside. A closed, cloistered feeling that constricted my throat clung tightly through the halls. I reached the front door, and there was a podium with a man standing behind it. I did not recognize him. He was of Asian heritage, with dark black hair, a smiling face, and a neatly pressed security guard uniform on.
“I am the Door Warden,” he said, introducing himself and shaking my hand.
“Pleased to meet you,” I replied, and looking around asked, “Where is everyone?”
“I am sorry sir, but I would not know where everyone is. Are you looking for a particular person?”
“No. Never mind.”
“Very well. Will you be leaving us then, sir?”
“Take these then.” And he pulled out a heavy winter coat and a pair of snow boots that were stored behind the podium and handed them to me. I put them on and slung the backpack over my back. He pulled a hat snuggly over my head, red like the backpack. “Stay on Fireman’s Trail until you reach the main road. That will take you into town. From there you should be able to catch a train or a bus to where you need to go. It is a long hike to town, but you should be able to make it without too many problems. Just keep out of the woods. They will not be safe right now.” He unlocked the door with a curvy, metal key the size of a large man’s hand that he carried on a chain around his neck. There was a rusty clicking sound, and then the door opened. “Best to you, sir.”
In front of the center is a large, open field that in summer would be sprawling with green grass where toads and snakes hid in its dense blades, but now they all were all covered in snow. The mountains loomed in white majesty in the near distance, and trees with laden branches stood wearily all around, spread over the land. It was quiet, as it normally is after a snowstorm, and but for the sound of a cardinal singing far away the land was swallowed in silence. I made my way across the field, listening to the crunching sound of my feet, feeling the cold air on my face, burning my nostrils, and quickly reached Fireman’s Trail, a wooden sign pointing out its trailhead.
The trail was mostly downhill, descending from the mountains, and a creek not yet frozen ran along to the right of me. It was wide path, easily able to accompany three abreast. The trees closed in tightly, their canopy capturing the light, and underneath them dark shadows played away from the watchful eyes of the sun. I hiked until well past noon, from what I could tell it would have been perhaps around two, but as I did not have a watch or anything I could not be certain. The trail was more demanding than what I would have thought, and I felt overwhelmingly tired. Deciding to take a break, I found a fallen tree just inside the woods and sat for a moment. There was no telling how far I had yet to go just to get to the main road, or from there to the town the Door Warden spoke about. And I had grown hungry.
I opened the bag, since I had taken no measures in regards to provisions of food, in hopes that Sophia had been kind enough to pack something to sustain me. When I looked inside, however, my hopes were dashed as there was only one item in the bag. I reached in and took it out, a round object wrapped in what looked to be a lady’s scarf, not unlike the one Francine had bought for Darla. It was extremely light, nearly weightless, and I unwrapped it. The folds of cloth fell away, and there in my hands was a softly glowing ball of light, around the same size as a bowling ball, but maybe a little smaller. And there was something peaceful about the light, something peacefully sad.
I tripped over our bed and smacked right into the dresser, my elbow making violent contact with it. I screamed out, cursing, in sudden, if not exactly terrible, pain. But also for the confusion brought on by the quick change of locations. My head spun, trying to make sense of it, and I rubbed my elbow trying to concentrate. I was going to bed, just finished with brushing my teeth and getting on my pajamas, and was entering my room when…
“Dearest,” Francine said rushing in, “are you okay? What happened?”
“Yes, yes, love, I am fine, thanks. Sorry, I…I must have had a dizzy spell and tripped over the bed. I hit my elbow on the dresser, but I am fine. I screamed more from shock than anything else.”
She helped me to stand and took me to bed, drawing the covers down. “Lie down, now. You have overextended yourself. Now go to sleep, Robin. And really, I do think you should call off tomorrow. With all you have been through, love, don’t you agree?”
“We’ll see darling. When I wake up. Could you set the alarm? Thanks. In the morning, I think, I shall feel alright, but let us see then.”
“Very well then. But please think about it.” She turned off the light as she left, and I could hear her and Emma’s voices floating softly down the hall from the living room. But I could not sleep. Not then. I lay there looking up at the ceiling thinking, and was even awake when Francine returned an hour or two later to sleep. I closed my eyes to make her think I was sleeping, and she kissed my cheek and curled into a ball with her back to me and fell to sleep in a short time. I reached over and held her, hungrily absorbing her warmth, listening to her rhythmic breathing, feeling soothed by it. Soon the heaviness of sleep crept over me, and I let go to it’s seductive charms.