Authors: Jordi Ribolleda
Tags: #romance, #paranormal, #young adult, #gods, #barcelona
THE MORTAL FRINGE
Published by Jordi Ribolleda at
Copyright 2014 Jordi Ribolleda
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I am standing completely alone on a
plane, and everything is black & white. The buzzing sound of
the engines penetrates my head as a gimlet, and a dense fog begins
to take control of the whole cabin, and I freeze as it approaches
Fire cracking all around me but
there is nothing I can see: nothing but a sudden blinding light far
away from here, turning the pale mist into a gory sea.
Before the thick fog reaches me,
the plane shakes and falls into the ocean. I run to the tail
looking for a getaway, but something falls from the upper cabinets
and hits me really hard. I lose my balance and I fall to the floor,
hitting my head with one of the seats. As the plane goes down, I
start to hit every corner of the cabin. I fall into the mist, and
the roaring plane hits the tides.
The windows break, the emergency
doors open and then everything start to flood. I can't remember how
to swim, I can't even move, or think. I feel the water going up,
first covering my legs, then my chest, then my head.
In the loneliness of the flooded
plane, I start seeing shadows. Dead souls summoned around me to
take me with them, take me wherever they come from.
I still see the purple light in
front of me and through the shadows, and I can tell there's someone
staring at me with eyes of flashing green light. I close my own
slowly and the water fills my lungs, I'm drowning. And once more,
before the green light I'm dying.
The sudden shake makes me fell off my
seat. Drops of sweat are going down my forehead, my dizzy eyes feel
numb. I can barely breathe. I fight against myself to open my eyes
wide enough to see the air hostess walking towards me with a glass
"It was just turbulence, there's no
need to worry".
I take the glass it carefully enough
not to spill it, but before I can bring it to my mouth I realize
that we are not flying over the ocean anymore. I have been sleeping
for over six hours.
I knew this was going to happen again,
as it has been happening for the last going months. I have lost
count of how many times I've seen the bright light at the end of
the tunnel. I see it every day, every night, whenever I close my
eyes. But it isn't quite the feeling I expected. Instead of warm
pure light, I only see deathly cold green sorrow. And every night I
die once more, until I wake up again.
It has taken me a long time to get
used to waking up almost screaming, with my sweaty body aching of
pain and hesitation. I never know if it was just a dream until I
calm down a little. That's never easy.
Being in here doesn't help either,
it's like being stuck inside a car, trapped without being able to
get out. Trapped, that's pretty much how I could summarize my last
year. I have been trapped within myself. Everywhere I go confines
me to some unknown spot I didn't know existed in my wrecked
I am only glad no one has been near me
long enough to see the mess I've become lately. My reservations
about the matter have, in part, helped me make this decision. I
never thought about leaving my country, not even for a short
vacation, but this past year has changed everything and now I just
can't bare the sight of my house anymore.
It's curious how guilt changes us; I
remember how I used to be and how I turned out. Not even those who
I considered my closest friends stuck with me when I needed them,
only Richard was there. Once I called him Dick, it seemed friendly
and familiar, but all that is now gone, and so am I.
Landing is twenty minutes away
according to the flat screen in front of me; I can't wait to get
out of here. I don't even want to look around the cabin; it would
bring back the dream. Just thinking about it makes me numb
I need a distraction, my head is
spinning and even if it is for what just happened or because I am
stuck I know there's only one possible outcome, and I don't want to
have a breakdown in here, not in front of so many helpless
I drag my bag from under my seat and
go through it breathing smoothly, I need to keep calm. I must have
made a bad move when I woke up, my arm hurts and I can barely feel
it. I open the back and look for anything that might be helpful
right now. I know there's a book in here, I put it in right before
leaving. I even remember the green cover. There's many things I
don't recall packing, and I can't find any of my stuff so I am
quite sure mom went through the bag without my
Finally I get to the book, The Reader.
I read about it somewhere, and they praised the dangerous liaison
between the main characters, which I guess I could relate to the
relation I've had with myself for the last months. The book was
hidden under countless packs of strips and stuff my dear mother
probably took from the first aid kid. There are even family
pictures, one of which used to be in our dining room up until this
morning; me, her, and David. It's curious how many people have been
impressed by our likelihood and not realized we are actually
The picture draws an involuntary smile
on my face. But I left, and nothing is and will ever be like in
this picture. That smile on my mother's face? What I will remember
is the sobbing of earlier today when I reluctantly got in Richard's
car to go to the airport. I couldn't even let her drive me. It was
enough just to get back in one of those things.
It will take a long time to make peace
with everything, I knew it before leaving and it is getting clearer
and clearer as I put more distance between home and the unknown.
Leaving will be good though, it must be.
The hostess comes back to get the
glass of water as we are about to land and the trays need to be
cleared. I try to hand her the glass myself but when I move my arm
a terrible pinch keeps me from doing it. I feel an instant drop of
sweat down my neck and through my back. I try to hide the pain and
hand the woman the glass as smoothly as I can.
"Can I still use the
"Sir we are about to land, you should
fasten your seat belt, sorry", she smiles at me as if all she was
saying was pure mimic and repetition.
Ten minutes later I am on the ground
and getting off the plane, doing my best to avoid contact with
anyone that could accidentally touch my arm. This has certainly
been a hell of a ride, as David would say. I haven't recovered from
that dream yet, it's always like that; loneliness, pain, and death.
But this time it was a little different, I was really convinced I
was drowning and that the plane was going down. This time, it felt
I spend the next half an hour going
through the controls and waiting for my luggage, doing my best to
pull myself together and hold my nerves.
"Welcome to Barcelona" someone near
the luggage reclaim railing keeps saying that to anyone who walks
nearby. I'd rather I arrived in better condition.
When I am finally out of the terminal
I look for a bathroom and sneak in.
My body is shaking; the pain seems to
be going away although I have a bad feeling about it. I know the
best thing to do is breathe, but I hardly can. I try to take off my
jacket but I can't avoid a painful scream before doing so. I raise
the sleeve of my jumper, and there is a huge bruise in the exact
same spot that the thing from the dream hit me.
I look at the mirror and I am nothing
but a living dead, pale and lifeless as fear and hate.
That has never happened
I try to focus, but my eyes keep going
back to the dark bruise on my arm. How on earth did that happen? Am
I imagining things now? I need to relax. I sit on the toilet and
place my head between my legs as I usually do when I have one of
this episodes. My whole body is shaking and I can feel the sweat
coming down my neck, I am getting cold. I try to breathe slowly, it
takes me a while but I can finally manage to get on my feet again.
I wash my hands afterwards and when I check my arm again the bruise
is gone, thank god, it probably wasn't even there in the first
When I leave the bathroom I notice
some payphones on my right, I have to call home. I'll do it once
I'm settled in, I have already lost too much time.
Since I have no idea of where I'm
going, I follow everyone in the terminal. I only asked someone
about the train station and the answer was a strange look and a
helpless gasp, maybe that's usual here when people meet English
speakers. My Spanish is not something to be proud of. After some
long walk I manage to get into the train, not because anyone helped
me. I find a sit close to the door. There's some hideous beep and
the train starts to move. I'm really here, hasn't sunk in
My bag is full of stuff I didn't use
during the flight, even my headphones, but thank God they are here,
there's a baby in front of me that doesn't seem to be able to stop
crying. I put them on, turn on my iPod and listen to whatever pops
in, Adele. I am constantly looking through the window, everyone
must think that I have not seen a city in my entire life, but I
really don't care.
Fifteen minutes later and I'm getting
off the train. My map is in my hand and my headphones are in my
pocket. Passeig de gracia looks like Fifth avenue, only smaller and
without that many people walking like crazy. My residence should be
around here. I go near someone who looks my age and very politely,
and trying not to stutter or shake too much, ask her if she'd be so
nice to show me where the hell I am.
"Oh, you are close" thank God, she
speaks something similar to English.
After some minutes of indications I
finally get there. It looks nice, there are some people with
suitcases waiting to go in, so I'm guessing that I am in the right
place. I make my way inside and walk straight to the check-in desk,
where a lovely woman looks at me in a very strange way, holding up
a pen and raising one of her eyebrows.
"Hello, I'm Alex Stills"
The lady speaks only Spanish, I'm not
at all surprised, but she did understand me. With many gestures and
funny voices, and for some reason very loudly, I know that my room
is 205, in the second floor. She also tells me that my roommate is
already there. I wish I could have had a blank moment once I
settled, but it will be a good thing to meet someone straight away,
I guess. The elevator is right next to the check-in desk so I push
the button and wait for it. The key to the room in which I will
live for the next six months is in my hand, and I feel like my life
is about to start all over again. I can't deny it, I am excited and
what happened during the flight is nothing but a distant memory
It takes me about 5 minutes to get to
my room, I open the door and indeed my roommate is in. He has
already decorated half of the room with movie posters, most of them
science fiction which I have to admit I haven't watched.
"Hey there" for his accent, he is an
American, but there's a British hint in the way he talks. After
flying across the world, I would have picked a different roommate,
it's like I haven't left.
"Good morning, I'm Alex." I say shyly,
"Jay" he shakes my hand "I picked this
side of the room but if you prefer it I can move all this, I really
For some reason he picked the half of
the room that has no window and looks dark and solitary.
"Oh no, it's fine. I like daylight,
I settle myself in, all my clothes are
in the wardrobe and my books are on the shelf next to my bed. My
laptop is on my desk, and I already feel like home. I switch my
phone on; I have four lost calls and countless messages. I can't