2018 - Winter

Two Lost Souls

Image © sleep. Source – CC Licence

Author: Chloé Manz

I have always wondered ‘why am I on Earth? What do I do here, what is my fate – by the way, is there such thing as ‘fate’?’ Because if there is, I am asking myself what the hell have I done to deserve that, and if there is only free will, God, what did I do? Where did it fail? And now I am about to end my miserable life at the top of the world… “funeral pile”…What was I thinking about? I have been a wretch since my first days of life, my creator rejected me when I was only a new born in this world and the world itself, rejected me, rejected the new born that I was…If free will rules that world, let me tell you something, World: ‘I didn’t choose to be born!’. My voice echoes as I was addressing to the sky. Everything around is still, white. The wind had stopped and all I can hear is the echo of my voice hitting the icebergs. Even the sea is quiet, still. Time has stopped and is waiting for me to do something. Lighting this fire? After having seen my master, my creator lying in that bed, as cold as stone and as blue as the oceans’ waters, all my anger faded away. I realised that I was, this time, completely alone. Frankenstein, although I hate him for what he has done to me, for what he inflicted on me, was my only parent in this Earth. Now that he is gone, I am completely alone. I am an orphan. That thought hit me when I saw his dead body; he denied me the right to have a companion and condemned me to solitude – may he burn in hell for that – but still, he was my creator; I was tied to him like I will never be tied to anyone on Earth. And at that very moment, I wanted to end with my life. I wanted to disappear from this inhospitable planet. Because let’s face it: why was I born? And now, I’m standing on my stake, looking at the endless horizon. I close my eyes. Breathe. I remember my first awakening in this world. My first encounter with humans.

The incomprehension to their spite towards me. What had I done aside from… being born? Is it my crime? Being born? I was so angry at my creator who inflected me so much pain, driven by a selfish desire of becoming a new God. And then my first murder. And how I liked it. Yes. I liked the feeling of depriving someone of his life so easily. Feeling the last spark of life leaving this frail body. ‘God dammit, light up that stupid fire and all the pain will end!’ But I can’t.

I learnt through books I stole during my wandering, that this instrument I (also) stole in Captain Walton’s cabin, they call it ‘magnifying glass’ and can serve to light up a fire. All I have to do is presenting the glass to the sun, being very careful to aim at the wood under me and WUUUF! I burn. I look at this instrument in my hand; it is beautiful. I examine it, how the sun reflects in the glass, how I can see the details of the wood under me. ‘You’re trying to win time’, whispers a little voice inside of me. No, I am not. Or maybe I am? I am not sure anymore that I want to leave this world…at least not yet. I have so many things to learn. ‘Yes, but you are alone now. If you live, you are condemned to a life of solitude’. The voice is right. However, I stared at this vast blue area in front of me. The beauty of it is breath-taking; I could spend hours looking at it. So, I sit down on my pyre, decided to enjoy my last view on earth. I don’t know how many hours passed but suddenly, my pyre collapses under my feet; I am too heavy for it and I fall on the ground. It was a sign. The sign that someone up there does not want me to die today. But first, I need to cover my traces. I collect the wood, rebuild the pyre and with the magnifying glass, set the pyre on fire. I also throw this piece of cloth that covered my chest in the flames, so if someone finds the pyre, they’ll assume that I died here. Or maybe that the rests of my body have been taken away by these white bears. I read somewhere that they can eat anything when they are starving. Now that the pyre starts burning, I have to decide where to head; I could go in the New World, hiding in these vast areas that they call the Far West. Or head towards the South in the Amazonian forest. But I don’t want to stay alone… I need a companion… My first try failed…and my other attempt to get a female like me also… all of that because of Frankenstein’s selfishness!!

WHY DID YOU REFUSE ME THAT PRIVILEGE YOU DAMN SELFISH MAN! I don’t know if shouting to the sky will do something – I’ve read somewhere that people who have something to say to their deads turn their head to the sky and then they get a sign that their declaration has been heard – but I’ve never tried it myself. In any case, what can a dead man do against me while no living man was able to hurt me in a significant way? I’m still waiting, though. I’ve never understood this notion of faith and religion. People put their fate and decisions in the hands of their creator, but I am well placed to say that the creator does not care at all for his little creations. Let’s be honest: my creator created only one being – me – and was not able to fulfil his obligations towards me; so how could a creator, who is supposed to have created billions and billions of beings, fulfil his obligations towards them? We were born alone, we live and we die alone, that’s my opinion.

Once, while I was following my creator – well no, he does not deserve this name, I need to find him another nickname… I could call him ‘the wretch’, he deserves this name more than me – so, while I was following him through Europe waiting for him to give me my companion, I found myself in front of a strange house. It was constructed with red rectangular pieces of stone, and there was a part that was higher than the roof. A sort of tower. At its top, I could see two bells and a cross. It was passed midnight and no one was in the surroundings so I went closer to the main door – a big wooden door with an inscription on it “Eglise de Omonville-la- Rogue, toute a?me perdue est la bienvenue” but I couldn’t understand this language. I think I’ve heard my wretch creator – I cannot help but calling him ‘creator ‘– telling that it was French. Anyway, there was a translation under it saying “Church of Omonville-la-Rogue, any lost soul is welcomed” and I smiled. I was a lost soul after all, therefore, this place was for me. Maybe I could find a companion in it? I entered in the ‘church’ as it is called. There were candles lighten up, wooden banks on each side of the alley and at the end of the alley, a small table with a big open book on it and above the table, a man attached to a cross, his head falling. ‘He needs help!’ was my first thought. So, I ran to help him but then I realised it was a sculpture.

And the man was not ‘attached’ to the cross but nailed to it by the wrists and the feet. What a barbaric image! And the man also had a wound on his right chest. I did not understand. Then I was attracted by the book on the table. A wonderful piece of art! The cover was in leather and the pages seemed to have some gold on them. I decided to flick through it, to see if I could learn things about this place for “lost souls”. And this is how I discover what humans call religion: believing that a superior being exists, that he created them and above all, that he loves them and so on. Love…. What is this? I don’t know… I cannot know. All I know is hatred. So I guess that love is the opposite of hatred. I don’t know where humans see love in their God – this is how they call him in that book, that is named ‘Bible’. From what I read in the book in comparison to what I have observed in the world so far, I don’t understand in what consists God’s love in this world. They are wars, they are murders, crimes and there is me. An abomination, a nightmare for humanity, even its enemy! If their God exists, why did he allow me to be created? And why did he let the Serpent tempt Eve? Or her eat the apple? I am the desolation of humanity, I hate it because it hates me for no reason other than being physically different. From what I heard when I was listening to the De Lacey, the human race has this specific tendency to reject the Other, the one that is different from them. They started with a different skin colour, different customs and then different religions. No, I am sorry but there is no God, or at least, no loving God. Only a sadistic ruler.

It is time for me to leave now, I have decided to head towards a land that I know, Switzerland. I could live in the mountains, I can find a cave and live there. At first, I wanted to head to the vast and desert regions of Siberia but, as I said, there are desert. Even if I’m destined to be alone, as the only one of my kind, it does not mean that I have to live as a hermit…or at least, not too far from civilization. Truth must be told, I want to learn more; that is the only reason why I’m still alive. Knowledge is a strength if you use it correctly and I want to gain more knowledge. And I want a companion too. I’m resolute in that. I know that my first attempt – well, my first two attempts were a failure – but it is because I didn’t do it in the right way!

I wanted to kidnap a child that had a family, which means that they are going to look for him, hunt me down. Besides, I also did not have any place to keep him. So, I need to kidnap someone that no one cares of. I need to kidnap an orphan! This wonderful plan suddenly fills me with such a strange feeling! My heart is like swollen and I surprise myself into giving a faint smile. I think this is what human call hope. I read it in the Bible. Christians are living with the hope of getting a better life after death…hahahahaha load of rubbish! But even, hope is a feeling that moves them, that comforts them throughout their insignificant life. And I am getting comforted. Knowing that I have a better plan to get a companion – even if this companion will not be like me – comforts me in such a way that I jump straight in the icy waters of the Arctic Ocean and swim in the direction of where the sun goes down (I also learnt that in one of the books I stole). I am happy. I won’t be alone anymore.

Part II

I’ve never thought today will be the last day of my life. Well, let me be clearer; when I say life, it is not as if mine had been very thrilling. I don’t know if we can even call that ‘a life’. And be reassured, I’m not dead. By “last day of my life” I meant “last day of my current life”. I’ve always loved being dramatic. My life was amazing until my 8 years; I had a loving family, a lovely house but everything stopped suddenly during this winter night. I don’t know what happened. All I remember is me waking up in the arms of a fireman, watching the huge flames devastating my house. From this day, I’ve never opened my mouth anymore. I was sent first into a hospital, where the doctors, policemen, firemen and nurses tried to make me talk. But I didn’t know anything. It was a crapulous crime they said. They arrested a suspect a few weeks later, who confessed having lighten up the fire to teach a lesson to my father. But I didn’t know what kind of lesson it was. How can you teach a lesson to a dead man? Anyway, he was condemned and executed. And I was sent into an orphanage. I’ve never known why I was the only one who survived. And this is what I’ve been doing these last years: surviving in a world where I don’t want to be. But I can’t end with my life. It will be unfair towards my parents.

So, I stay alive and try to cope with what happened to me. In the orphanage, there are a lot of women, supposed to act as substitute mother but my mother never beat me or starve me for punishment. They make you feel that you are not wanted, that you are a mistake of nature or whatever insult they can find to insult you. Today is the 15th October 18– and this is the last day of my actual life.

The orphanage organizes every autumn an excursion into the woods near the mountains – surely in the hope of getting rid of at least one of us (yes I read Ha?nsel & Gretel, I know that when adults who do not like children bring them into the forest, it is to abandon them). We left this morning around eight and took the forest path at the end of the village, the one that goes along the river and then climbs up in the mountain. The trees there are so thick that the sun barely manages to light up the path. We’ve never been there before, I’m suspecting that something is going on. We are only five children left in this orphanage. The others were either adopted because they were younger, either they ran away to a better life. I’m not sur that they found a better life, that is why I stay here. At least, I have a roof and food. Even if they beat us. All you have to do is keeping quiet, taking care of the younger because these women hate tears. If they catch you weeping, they don’t comfort you like a true mother should; instead of that, they grab you by the hair if they are long, or by the ears, and throw you in the basement for the night. Well, my four companions and I are now walking in the forest; it is still, at the exception of the head supervisor who sometimes whips the one who does not walk quickly enough to her liking. Around noon – well I guess it is noon, we can barely see the sun down there – we stop for lunch. All we have is a piece of bread, with a piece of mouldy cheese and of course water. Dehydrating us wouldn’t be acceptable, you know. One of the youngest starts suddenly crying “I don’t want to eat thaaaaaaaaaat, it’s disgusting!”. The “nurse” (because she does not really care for us, if you see what I mean), shouts at the little girl: ‘you’d better stop crying right now and eat your cheese otherwise, you could regret it’.

Me and the other children look at her, imploring her to stop crying because we know that this nurse is the worst of the four we have at the orphanage. And knowing that they all belong to the witch lane, ‘worst’ here is not a hyperbole. Once, by an access of rage because I didn’t want to finish my meal after spotting a worm in it, she grabbed me by the hair, threw me down on the corner and whipped my back three or four times with her belt. I still have the scars. And from that day, I swore to God – well, or to the sky, because I don’t think any God would ever allow his children to suffer – that I will get my revenge. But Nora, the little girl, not knowing this nurse, throws her piece of cheese on the ground, still crying and screaming.

She had signed her death warrant.
The nurse, calmly and smiling looks at her and murmurs: ‘you shouldn’t have done that’. By saying so, she stands up, heads for the little girl and sticks the cheese in her throat. The head supervisor was looking on the other way, as if by doing so, she wouldn’t be accused of complicity. I closed my eyes. I don’t want to see. But I can still hear Nora’s tears and the sound of her choking. ‘She’s dying!’ I hear one of the boys screaming. ‘Do something, the cheese is stuck in her throat and she can’t breath! Monster!’ This is more than I can stand. I stand up and start running. I run as fast as I can without looking back. I hear the head supervisor screaming ‘come back you little bastard!’. And I hear the sound of someone running after me. But I don’t look back. A branch whips my face but I don’t stop. I start crying but I don’t stop. She’s still behind me but she is heavier and I can hear her getting breathless and stopping. But I don’t stop. ‘You’d better keep running! If I ever catch you, trust me, you’ll never be able to run again little bitch!’ I lost her. I don’t know how but I lost her! Maybe it’s a trick and if I stop she will jump on me. So, I keep running. I don’t know for how long, all I know is that there is a strange force inside of me that keeps me running and running without getting breathless. Suddenly, I feel the ground collapsing beneath my feet and I saw my body falling and rolling down the slope and my head hitting a rock. It is as if I was outside my body, suddenly.

All I know is that I was out for a few hours; I wake up in a kind of cave – I assume it was a cave because it doesn’t look like the place where I fell or maybe I fell so hard that my body went through the ground and fell in a cave. Anyway, the actual situation is that I am in a cave. Alone. And it is dark outside. What have I done? Why have I run away? I am used to that kind of violence from the nurses towards us so why this time was I unable to stand it? All I know for sure, is that I heard a little voice inside of me telling me to run away, to leave this kind of life and that now was my only chance to get a better life. And I followed it. I thought at first that it was my mom’s voice, that she was trying to protect me but why running in the woods? There is no one here, aside from…wild animals? Bears? Ogres? I try to stand up but suddenly my body reminds me of that fall and there is something holding up my arm. I close my eyes and reopen them, so they can become used to obscurity. There is some kind of splint around my forearm and a sort of grey cloth enveloping it. Someone, or something, had taken care of my broken arm. But who? I have heard legends about some spirits inhabiting and protecting the forest… Naaa these are, as they are called, legends. But still, someone did this to me. I try again to stand, this time, paying attention to my arm. A huge pain on my head obliges me to sit down again. I touch my head with the other hand and.. OH GOD! What a huge bump! I must look like a unicorn…with a horn on the right side of the forehead but still, a distorted unicorn. ‘What kind of rubbish are you saying!’, it may be the fall and the bump. I’m not myself though. Okay, now focus and try to determine where you are.

It took me few hours to explore the cave. It is dry, at least, because outside it has started to rain. Unfortunately, I also discovered that my exit is blocked by a huge stone, that only lets the air come through. Otherwise, I’m condemned to be stuck in this cave. Maybe my guardian angel protects me from the people of village. Or it is an ogre who keeps me in its food safe before eating me! No, no, no, just calm down. An ogre would have eaten you with or without a broken arm. It does make no difference for it, the meat is still there. Look at me! Talking about how human meat can be consumed! I must have hit my head quite strong on that rock!

I think I’ve arrived to the end of the cave and guess what? No exit. Just a flat dumb wall of stone with no openings. Suddenly, I hear the stone at the entrance of the cave being moved.

I run back to my “bed” in order to spot my guardian angel but damn, I missed it/him/her. On the ground, a sort of plate with some cheese – not mouldy this time – a piece of bread and some kind of…meat? At the smell of the meat, my stomach reminds me that I’ve haven’t eaten for two days. With my hands, I bite into the cooked meat – I think it is rabbit, but I don’t care, I’m starving – and gobble it up. The same fate awaits the cheese and the bread. I shout ‘Thank you!’ in direction of the stone door but no one answers. At least during the two minutes following my thanking. Then, I hear a slight ‘You’re welcome’. The voice at first, frightens me. It is a really deep, almost sepulchral voice. But I feel something else in this voice; it is something that I can’t explain, maybe because this is something you don’t often link with that kind of voice.

That’s what it is! A soft deep sepulchral voice. That’s strange. Normally, that kind of voice is related to a monster, an ogre, you know? When grown-ups tell a fairy tale, every time an ogre appears in the narrative, they imitate that kind of voice. Maybe ogres do exist after all! Maybe it hasn’t eaten me yet, because I’m not fat enough! ‘Calm down’ murmurs my little voice. ‘There you are, you who forced me to run away from food and from a roof! My life wasn’t perfect I admit it, but still, I was fed and I was warm’. ‘Yes, but you were alone’. ‘Alone? And what am I now? Surrounded by a loving family maybe? And who are you, to force people to run like they’ve never run before? Are you a… (damn this is becoming ridiculous) a spirit?’. ‘I am you, Moona’.

This answer lays me out.
This little voice that I thought was my mom or some stupid spirit of the forest, was actually…mine? How is that even possible? I try to think but my head hurts so much at the moment that it is impossible for me to find a plausible answer. I lay down and fall asleep. I wake up again with a full plate in front of me. Wild berries this time. Maybe there was no spirit

or ghost whispering to my ears to run away but there is definitely someone who found me wounded and decided to take care of me. I don’t know yet his/her/its reasons for doing this but I am thankful. For the cares and for the food. The same scheme lasts for a few days, every time my guardian angel brings me some food, some clothes – too big for me – and even a second blanket and a cloth to change my splint, and every time I missed him/her/it. This is a complete mystery. And good for me, I love mysteries. It is decided, next time, I’ll spot my guardian angel and oblige him/her/it to face me. I’m resolute. And stubborn too. That’s what my father used to say. In the cave, there is a little pond with water coming from the outside. Just above that little pond, there is a sort of excrescence of stone where I’m sure, a human child can hide. It is as if someone tried to dig a second path in the stone but failed and now there is this very little…floor? I try and, yes, I can fit in it. Now let’s see if I can jump from it to the cave’s ground without falling in the pond and hurting myself. I already have a broken arm, I think that’s enough. I take a deep breath and jump! I land safely on the ground! Now, I can surprise my guardian angel. Now, I’m ready to face it.

Today, is the day. The day where I will meet with my guardian angel. Yesterday, I discovered that it was totally possible to hide behind “stone curtain” as I like to call it. I missed my guardian angel at breakfast but I won’t miss it tonight. When night starts to fall, I hide behind the “curtain” and wait. I don’t know for how long but suddenly I hear steps; this being must be very heavy because its steps make a muffled sound. I’m starting to be afraid but there is no time for retreat. The being moves the stone and makes a step into the cave. I hold back my breath. The being that enters the cave is from a huge complexion. I’ve never seen a human being so big and…large. I cannot see its face, it is covered by a hood but I can see that its skin is grey. A stone giant? Well, I’m decided, so when I see it heading back to where it came from, I jump from my hiding place and shouts ‘there you are! Spot you!’. The creature stops but does not turn round to me. I can see the muscles of its back through his clothes. I can see its breathing. But I cannot see its face. ‘What are you?’ I say? ‘Why did you save me?’. But no answer comes.

I try another solution to have it talk. ‘Thank you for looking after me after my fall, for feeding me and for keeping me safe. That is what you meant, right? Keeping me safe?’. ‘Yes.’ This voice again. So deep that I have the feeling of talking to a very ancient creature. A creature of the stone. I don’t feel afraid anymore. I spot something sad in this voice too. ‘Why did you do that?’. ‘You needed help. I saw you running as if the devil was chasing you…’. ‘It kind of was’. ‘I saw you falling and hitting that rock with your head. I heard a woman’s voice coming. She arrived breathless where you had fallen, looked at you and said with a lot of cruelty ‘look at you now, you cannot run anymore. You can die in this forest I don’t care. You’re an orphan, no one will ever be looking for you’. And then she left, laughing. From that moment, I knew I had to save you. So, I took you, took care of your arm and head and brought you in that cave.’ ‘I am very grateful for that, but why hiding?’. ‘Because I need a friend’. ‘If you hide you won’t find any friend’. ‘I hide because my complexion is abominable; if you see me as I am, you’ll scream and run away. And I’ll stay alone for ever’. I was right, this was really sadness that I felt in his voice. He is alone, like me but desperate to find someone. I can understand that. I’ve been alone since my family died. I’ve never really enjoyed the company of other children, even if they all lost their family too. I don’t know why. This creature in front of me just makes me feel sad but also triggers something in me that I am not able to define yet. ‘I won’t run I promise. Please, let me see you. You are my guardian angel after all. You could have let me die in these woods but you didn’t’. The creature mumbles something that I cannot hear. Something like ‘they all run when they see me’. I was stunned. I could feel his pain. How much had he had to suffer to be so afraid of human beings? I make a step towards him, without a noise, and place my hand against his back. He shutters and grumbles but does not run away. Under my hand, his muscles are fraught, I can feel how nervous and, afraid at the same time, he is. I can also feel some bulges here and there in his back. They draw a kind of…line? What is he? As if he had guessed my questionings, he answers: ‘I am not a human being. I was created what it seems now, a very long time ago.

I’m hideous in my complexion because my creator broke the rules of nature. He rejected me and I had to revenge. Now he is dead and I’m alone. I wanted to immolate myself on a pyre at the North Pole but was unable to do so. Why? I don’t know. Now I am here, I’ve been living in that cave for the last months but solitude kills me. I need a companion’. By saying so, he turns round and faces me. With his big grey hand, he takes off his hood. ‘Oh god what happened to you?!’ is my first reaction. Well, I have to admit, it is my second reaction. But it is my first loud and visual reaction. He is monstrous, I have to be honest. I almost fainted when I saw his face, I admit. But there is something that prevents me from running away and that thing, or better said, those things are: his eyes. They are extremely white, which, I have to admit it also, is scary. But if you pass the first impression, you can discern such a sadness that prevents you from hurting that being anymore. I take a deep breath, still looking at him.

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