By: Hassam Gul
Amelie remained seated on the silk-coated settee, even when the train resumed her stranded journey if you are to call her remains by her name, a part in which I had full bearing.
My mare snare, when we got closer to the red caboose of the train. Cherry was a child when I adopted her. And here, she was running among the wilderness to tame the wild, born within us. And she had no objections, even if it meant that it was her first companionship outside the stables with her lovable master.
The hour was near. The antes had ticked into my favor. And the information that was conveyed — was ready to be unlocked. Pushing my foot deep into the stirrups, I aimed at the steel end of the caboose that had a large lamp hanging unlighted. I jumped in when the train was slowing down when she sensed the blockade ahead, entrapped by me.
The puzzled mechanic stopped the train. And inspection was about to take place. I had a half-hour to persecute what I was for there. — to persecute her.
Before I could strengthen the roots of my patent leather shoes on the parquet floor of the aristocratic-class train, a flash passed as if it was a star in the sky. And my ears rung-open — It dazzled me, but it hardly touched my temptation to do what I was there for.
“It must be the liquid, left by the master to drink before the start of the journey,” I said, cursing the green larve-like the liquid I had eaten.
I remembered the blankness of my mind. It was crude. And making everything futile to think about. My hands were moving on its own as I scrambled patiently, looking for their cabin.
A large lady, with pearls on her neck and green diamonds,
was looking at me at last. The pistol in my hand was on the trigger when a mute but strangely shaven creature steps aside from her. ‘Cuban,’ I said to myself. His tempting hands pull the knife and it sticks like an arrow into my hand, when the blade pierced the air and tension, and heat in the air.
Gunpowder bellowed the mist in the air around the steel of my Hawes Derringer 357 cal, and the giant with a hole in his temples went down. Another empty trigger was pulled on that very lady, standing aside him, who couldn’t shriek from fear — such were her anxiety at the time of her departure. This time with delicacy amid her shrieks and concerns, I craftily rub the hard soot of the skin of my finger on the trigger, which was oiled in and out, I sensed. I have never liked oily palms or hands least dirty.
I look into her purse. And found a carefully folded paper that read, ‘3269.’
‘He’s after four mere digits?’ I thought. But I know it was futile to question the wisdom of rector. I moved my fingers away, and my eyes stood on an elegant figure — a young lady seated nearby the seat that was now vacated with the departure of the old woman.
“Amelie?” I said, in sheer benevolence from not knowing what to say. A weak humble face, lurking in the skin of a white ghost, looked at me in return. “Your aunt, isn’t it? I asked.
Silence. And it prevailed for a minute, amid her whitewashed face, briskening behind the curtain of fear — speculating the numbers: the chances of death and survival. And she was cunning. But it was the least thing I could parley for at that moment — the silence, a cumbrous silence.
Speak devil! I cried in my mind.
She looked again when the sound of piercing iron reached her. It was imminent. Gloating of blood out of the corpse’s mouth was making it a feature more imminent. “Yes, aunt. She’s my aunt!” she cried. She was looking at the iron rod, standing like Eiffel tower in her mouth.
The spark of gunpowder was in the air. Passengers were awakened. The encounter was imminent. Further delay would have meant the resurrection of the fears in a material form for me.
She could sense the blood coagulating on my fingers when I carried her from her chest to the horse. A horse that was hidden behind the end of the train, away in bushes and wilderness for which she was yearning — something I could feel in her groans.
When I was carrying my body and of her, thereby the most fortunate occurrence, time relapsed. People were running toward my steps. Away — toward the engine in fear of an on-going robbery.
From their facing direction, two men laced with revolvers suspected me. My greatcoat was the only object that was looking distinguishable. Because they were looking at my back as I was trying to take the reins in my glove hands.
Cherry my queen, who had my heart galloped off toward the cave amidst the barrage of fire. She flew like silk in the air of spears. Coming out neatly but broken. I unlaced the leather strips, and the lady afterward. When I jumped to the ground, a loud thud was heard. I looked back.
It was Cherry — my only item of observation, and peace of my mind, as evidenced by the mornings of my life in those times when I would not drink a sip until I had fed her. Going to the ground with a bleeding bladder — all the way in most muted expression, like me as a child. I grapple for a while in my mind, and then silently pursue the journey to the cave, with her hand in mine.
Tomorrow is the hearing. I must be prepared, I thought. Rector was to come tomorrow to take the accounts.
“Amelie, dear. Don’t fear,” I said delicately to her, looking in her green eyes. Her hands were cold when I passed the loaf. I rubbed them gently and made her drink the red wine. Her long lashes were beds of cool drops. They were twinkling in the twilight of the deep room lighted by the half-burned candles and light piercing from the narrow opening of the cave — which was the room of our stay. Studious and away from the likes of society — an item of a renegade.
A good voice will come out of her. She drank it, but partly. I wanted to enforce it on her, but looking at her red trembling lips, I couldn’t help but shed my eyes, away from her — in mercy — mercy.
It was the middle of the night. After my constant wigging about matters that pressed me to go after her into the train, I failed —failed to open a dialogue, and in a most gentle way.
In slumber of silence, my gaze caught her delicate hands and fine fingers, white in the deepest night. She shrunk back when she saw my staring glance. Afraid of the unknown and pain.
“Amelie, you consent that these are stock figures and in-turn a code, which if delivered to her London’s lawyer, the fortune will go to her only son,” I asked, in the tone of a lawyer.
“Dead,” her still voice proclaimed. “Her mentally ill son died.”
“Four months ago.”
Amelie was his bride in waiting. She added, “you collect it right, whatever animal you are — you wretched!” Her boiling face turned toward me to spit.
“You were to accompany her…” I turned toward her closer. “That’s mean, you are the heir now that remained in the bargain,” I said, spitting as I spoke, though I was unaware of it.
The least rector wanted a heir in the path — after the death of the son, I thought. But in what path? It was the path toward the monastery. The last resting place to be, of the will.
She felt the drops on her face and raised her hand. My hand grasped her hand, and I cleaned her affectionate face with affection, with my handkerchief, while she remained stern as before. It looked as if her paper skin will trot in pieces with a piece of cloth. But it didn’t.
I had to decide. And I decided — a decision that was to be made, as it was wrigging, shoveling my mind out of my head.
“Will you go with me?” I asked after an hour of silence.
I was a young man like her, and proud too — as a fanatic. But I lacked. I let the hour passed. Amelie was there, secretly sobbing. Then she stopped, and I also stopped looking at her.
I put my two fingers deep inside her throat with my eyes closed. And pushed my fingers upward, with her saliva around my hand flowing like a river. Next, she tasted cool steel, and then gunpowder began to entrench the room. Her green eyes were stern as before. Only now, they were fading to incessant deadness.
The Islamabad-based writer is a biotechnology graduate. His work has appeared in The Creative Cafe, Global Village Space, and Asian Signature.