Friday, 16 December 2011

Along the forest trail

Dear readers,

Yet again I fallen under school and work pressure, so that my blog has yet to be updated. Well I have a treat for you. I'll keep this intro very short so you can use your time to read the short story I have ready for you.

Take a look at it and tell me what you think of it. I always enjoy reading your thoughts and ideas.

Along the forest trail
by Levi Blokdijk
William Swoon glanced over his shoulder, keeping an eye on his nineteen year old brother, Patrick, who was trotting along behind him. Usually, he would be walking beside him, his hand holding that of his younger brother so that he would not wander off. Shortly after birth Patrick had been diagnosed with a severe mental illness, causing his, and especially William’s, everyday routine to be all but simple. The only form of speech that Patrick was capable of was producing low guttural grunting sounds that were nowhere near the sounds normal people made. He walked with a horrible limp, and could only do so for a limited time before he tired out, and eventually just sat down on the ground, moaning in a low whiney voice. To make his limp and possible downtime worse was that Patrick had the strength and build of an ox. He stood over two meters tall and had the shoulder width of a professional rugby player, making it impossible to physically restrain him, or get him on the move again, be it necessary. It was impossible to judge what was going on in Patrick’s mind, only Patrick really knew, however doctors had given the Swoon family a vague description what might be going on behind the twisted mask of confusion that Patrick had been wearing as a face since the day he was born. The doctors suspected Patrick’s mind to be functioning at the same level of a one year old baby. His state would not improve, they could be positive about that much.
These attributes added up to a task only an elder brother could handle, or at least that’s what William’s parents liked to think. The prominent problem with Patrick was that once he set his mind on something, there was no stopping him. After years of guiding his brother around the neighborhood, bringing him places and just keeping an eye on him at all times, William had discovered the trick to keep his brother calm and collected was to simply prevent anything from happening before it had to start in the first place. If William noticed a large puddle his brother would most likely start rolling in, he would steer them in another direction far before his hind sighted companion would notice. If William registered a kid playing with a brightly colored ball, he would distract Patrick with a biscuit, or any other treat he had on him. William always ensured that he left the house with a pocket full of goodies for Patrick.

     They were strolling along a narrow forest path, which was barely wide enough for one person, let alone two, which ran through the large area of woods behind their house. The two young men were on their way to their grandmother’s, as they always did on Wednesdays. Their grandmother, still quite youthful, took over William’s responsibilities for a few hours every Wednesday afternoon. What made the deal exceedingly prosperous was that their dear grandmother took over William’s task every Wednesday of the year, without exception, for as long as William could recall. Because William had guided his brother along the path countless times before, the journey was slightly less stressful. William didn’t suspect his brother of being capable of recognizing things or buildings, but he had a feeling Patrick felt more comfortable in the forest, where there were hardly any people to distract him. It was a warm mid-summer morning and sunlight was pouring through the treetops, creating a similar effect to that of a disco ball. Patrick was overwhelmed, his usual vacant eyes now bursting with life as they darted all over the forest floor, obviously intrigued by the millions of spots of light that danced on the forest floor. The distraction caused Patrick to slow his pace, so William stopped, maneuvered around Patrick, and starting walking behind him so that he could gently nudge his brother along the path. It took Patrick some getting used to – he kept peering over his shoulder with a profound look of disbelief on his face. Each time William urged his brother along, Patrick would respond with a nasal grunt. William knew, from previous adventures, that Patrick didn’t really mind, but that he was just playing with him. He could see the smirk on his brother’s face each time he turned his head.

     The young men were in a hurry, well, William was in a hurry. Patrick was never in a hurry for anything. Why should he be? William thought to himself as he looked at his watch. It was already close to quarter past eleven in the morning, and there grandmother was expecting them at noon. The journey took them a bit over two hours, if all went well that is, and they had left at ten in the morning. William didn’t enjoy being late for his weekly appointments with his grandmother, because every minute he was late was deducted from his alone time. And every minute of William’s alone time was vital to his sanity. William wasn’t fond of hurrying his brother along, but if it meant he could spend time alone, then it had to be done. Another thing William didn’t like was thinking of his brother as a burden, but sometimes he just couldn’t help himself from labeling his brother that way. The idea would just slip into thought from time to time, and there was nothing William could do about it.

     Deep in thought, William pushed Patrick a trifle too hard just as Patrick was stepping over a root protruding from the damp earth. Patrick started to fall face forward to the ground, his arms swaying back and forth like a cartoon character would swing their arms when on a ledge. William reached out to grab his brother, only succeeding in lightly grazing Patrick’s shoulder as he fell forward. There was a thud and Patrick lay sprawled, face first in the dirt. The momentary freeze of William’s thoughts was accompanied by the physical barrier to move. For a brief moment he felt utterly terrified, unable to apprehend what had just happened. The hope of ever arriving on time had been shattered by his absent-mindedness. He felt the bonds loosen and he knelt beside his immobile brother. By now he should already be squealing like a pig William thought to himself, but Patrick was strictly silent. He didn’t make any sound at all. William gently placed his hand on Patrick’s left shoulder. ‘Patrick, hey Patrick’ William whispered. Nothing. ‘Patrick, come on, is everything alright?’ He knew Patrick couldn’t understand what he was saying, but the way he said things could soothe Patrick from time to time, just like the words of a trained dog owner could calm down a dog. Was he unconscious? Was it a game he is playing? Is he going to hit me? The different scenarios rushed through his head as he kept trying to roll his brother’s massive body over on to his side. 
His brother’s face started moving. He was slowly moving his head around so that he could look at his brother William. His nose was bleeding and his face was caked in mud. William could see small pools of tears forming in the corners of Patrick’s eyes. He was now completely sure they wouldn’t make it on time, they would probably arrive two hours late. A sharp feeling of dread grabbed hold of him.
‘Don’t worry William, everything will be alright in the morning,’ Patrick said in a completely normal matter-of-fact voice.
Alarm bells went off in William’s head. It felt as if his head was going to explode into a million pieces. What had just happened?
‘P-p-patrick, w-w-what d-d-id you j-j-just say?’ No response. ‘Patrick, did y-y-you j-j-just say? If you c-c-can, do it again!’ squawked Patrick, his voice rising as he ended his last sentence. Patrick had never in his life spoken a single word, and now he had managed to produce a perfectly clear sentence. This might change everything. Maybe Patrick could be taught to learn how to speak. Maybe there was a certain way of activating Patrick’s brain, making him capable of doing all kinds of things. Maybe I could be the one to teach him, I mean, why not? William’s thoughts were running wild again. No time to stay put here thinking about all of this. William would have hours to figure everything out, as long as he got Patrick to his grandmother’s house. He managed to get a grip on himself and started to yank on Patrick’s arm, which didn’t prove to be necessary. Patrick had already started to get up on his own. At first he just stood there, staring at the dirt on his clothes, arms and legs. Then, after grinning at William he headed down the forest trail they were on. William needn’t have said anything to get him going. He had done it all by himself. This was another thing that struck William as unbelievable, but he was keeping his thoughts under control, knowing that his mind would be clearer and more capable of thinking about everything when he was alone. William followed his brother down the path, feeling a new man.
The pace they were walking at had improved immensely during the following ten minutes. Patrick’s usual over obvious limp was now hardly noticeable. Am I imagining all of this, or is it really happening? Nah, it can’t be. I clearly heard what he said, and now it’s even like he never had a limp. What a miracle. William could feel his thoughts wandering, although he knew he should just stick to the task at hand. The thing was that Patrick was making his task so much easier now that his thoughts could roam freely, to a certain extent. Patrick didn’t seem to be distracted by all the different plants around him, nor did he seem bothered by the sharp light that was still falling on the forest floor.
It was now a quarter to twelve and they were within a short distance of their grandmother’s house, and the end of the forest. Soon we will be home. Soon I be alone. What? That doesn’t make any sense. It must be all of the action. Action man, yeah those were wicked. Stop it. William’s thoughts felt like they were falling apart, as if his mind was on an expedition, exploring itself. Stop it, damn you. We have to reach grandmothers. Then you can think. Focus. He managed to silence his thoughts, focusing on the back of his brother’s head. Minutes later they started up again. Sunlight good. Very good. What? Butterfly! Butterfly! Fly on the air. What’s happening? Leaves… leaves… leaves the head. Stop it! William had started shaking. He had a very bad feeling about all of this, as if his whole world was morphing around him and there was no possible way to stop it. His feet kept doing their work though. Make it to grandmothers. Everything be alright. Perfectly fine. Yes. Yhhheeesssssssssssss. STOP IT! The distance started becoming larger and larger between the two young men. William’s feet had started to feel alien, as if he wasn’t the one giving them the messages to do what they were doing. As he looked down at his feet he could see his light foot slightly turned inwards, making it more difficult for him to keep up. From his feet, he peered up at Patrick, who was now at least ten meters away. Slow down. Downwards. Stairs. Hairs. Pairs. Wow! Rabbit! Ha-ha! Rabbit go bounce bounce. William stopped dead on the path, staring at a brownish rabbit which was bouncing along parallel to the forest path. Patrick ahead. Moving away. Rabbit. Fur. Bouncy. Must catch it. Play with it. NO! Follow brother! Make grandmadders houws. Catch up to bradah. William’s eyes were darting between his brother and the rabbit. A warm sweat had broken out all over his body, drenching him. Patrick was now already out of the forest. William could see that he had stopped. His face, barely visible, pointed straight at him. William had stopped looking at the rabbit, now drawn towards his brother’s eerie gaze. Patrick was smiling. Bastard. Help me. I wwwant ouwt of this. Help. Help. Help meeee Patwick. William collapsed to his knees, still only capable of looking directly at his brother’s face. Only seeing the smirk little smile on his face. Gawd Paaattricckkkkk… helppppppp… miiiiii… Mi no undrrrstaanndd. William collapsed on his side. The sight of Patrick’s awkward smile still burnt into his membrane as he slowly closed his eyes. And then everything went black.
Patrick woke up in a hospital bed. He had had a very vivid dream, but he had already forgotten nearly almost everything. His head lulled to the right and he tried to bring his left arm up to his mouth, which were dry, but found out that it was impossible. Duhhhmmm ugh ugh. He thought as his vigorously tried to move his arms, and then his legs. Sparks were going off in his head, sparks being sparks, for they could not be called thoughts. Impulses would be a better word for them. Duuhhmm durr arrhh ugh.
‘Ah, good, you’re awake. We were afraid you wouldn’t wake up. See, you’ve been asleep for over two days. Your parents have already gone home,’ said the doctor standing next to Patrick’s bed. He was wearing a long white coat, with his credentials on a simple plastic card which was stuck to his coat pocket. He was holding a clipboard with all of Patrick’s specifics on it.
‘Urgh! Durmmm! Bluuhhh!’ proclaimed Patrick, now looking up at this new figure.
‘Well, I’m afraid actual speech will be impossible Patrick. Personally, I don’t think it will be any use telling you what happened, but your parents insisted on me telling you about what happened three days ago, and I am a man of my word. Now, listen, or just lay there, and I’ll tell you what happened.’
‘Ugh? Graghhh’
‘Three days ago, you and your brother William were walking through the forest directly behind your house. Both of you were on one of your usual trips to your grandmother. Halfway along the path something happened, well, something triggered you to do something. Something horrible. Apparently, you had picked up an awful large rock and you proceeded to cave in your brother´s head with it. You murdered your brother, Patrick. A hiker found the two of you, both covered in blood. Your brother was lying face down in the dirt. You were lying next to him, on your back. Your entire arms were covered in blood and you had them behind your behind. The person who found you said that there was a strange smile on your face, and the police confirmed this when they arrived at the scene. After examining you at a hospital, the doctors concluded that you had no physical damage on your person, and thus sent you here. Your new home. Now, I know you don´t understand, or probably don´t even remember doing it, but as I said before; your parents insisted on having me tell you what had happened.’
‘Uhgh mmmrrr’
‘Now, I’ll be back later. I see that you are still a bit weary. Goodbye for now Patrick’ the doctor finished. He replaced the clipboard and swiftly left the room, leaving Patrick staring at the ceiling with the corners of his mouth trembling, as if he were trying to hold back a smile.          

1 comment:

  1. Very well-written. Your writing style is distinct.

    Also, school brings me down as well. sadface*