NOTHING
2017

text
short story

1360 words

It's been a long time since I entered that empty desert which all over was the same. Yet I still remember its entrance; the main entrance was miles after the fake one. A man stood there, a man whose movements were limited to the rotation of his big scourging eyes and the raising of his left hand to his mouth. Man was smoking a cigar that was endless, in the middle of the desert. He stood so rigidly and smoked with such seriousness I thought he was protecting something very important. But where he stood there was nothing, nothing behind him or by his sides. He could have chosen any other point in the desert to stand, it wouldn't have made a difference, the desert was same all over and there was nothing that needed his protection. Yes, the desert had monsters but they were harmless, those drunk and ugly monsters only had scuffles amongst themselves. Even if they became dangerous there was nothing the man by the entrance could do. He wasn't protecting anything, he was just a pervert who smoked a cigar. He wasn't caring for anything, he was a bastard who had no business except smoking and staring. I walked past him.

A while after, I saw a faint dot in the distance and began to walk towards it. Hours passed until I could finally hear it – in desert sound precedes image – they were a society, peoples huddled close together in a point in a desert. They weren't moving, they were shouting in each other's face. Desert's dirt had risen in the air because of their running jaws. I noticed to their right there was a photographer with an old camera and a wooden tripod. I couldn't see her face, she was bent over behind her camera, just the top of her head was visible as it slowly swayed behind the camera. The photographer was trying to make an honest image of that society, something she could show as being true, but she wasn't succeeding. Her head kept swaying behind the camera with patience as her hand would rotate the focus ring back and forth. "Only if I had a wider lens I would capture much more than this, much more" she was muttering to herself.

In that crowd all sorts of faces could be found – merchants, priests, laymen... all with one thing in common: they all had a message and each one was a prophet. But since they didn't have enough time to attend to each individual message proper they shouted their messages all at once, repeating it over each other in a false hope of being heard. In my opinion they should've left each to their own but there was no use voicing my opinion; from the freshness of some faces one could detect that many of them had started later than others, later than the beginning of that society and the initial disagreement. Then I thought to myself, some of them must've thought what I am thinking now, that they had seen the crowd and ran to them to say "you idiots, leave each other alone!" but now they too... Maybe one day they would find some harmony in that chaos but until then they would suffer.

They weren't worth my time and I was feeling sick, sick of the panting and grunting of that photographer whose tripod had grown roots in the desert ground, her pointless and tiresome attempt to prove something, and the society causing a dust storm that burnt the eyes. I walked past them, their words had raised a storm. The cloud of their discussions having more depth than I thought, as I moved forward thicker the layers and harder movement became.

At the limit of the storm and dust I reached a wide and sterile hallway that I had already entered without knowledge of. It was a tunnel seemingly without ends, to infinity? The floor was hard stone black, contrasting the white and reflective tiles that began from either walls and met each other in the centre of the ceiling. There were lights in the ceiling set apart five or six feet from one another adding to the whiteness of the hall. Also hanging from the ceiling were few surveillance cameras placed randomly. The only sound was of a saxophone, coming from I don't know where. This hallway was truly empty and I walked so long I became empty of thought and became merely a walking machine. I was no longer expecting anything on my way let alone a crystal filled with water. Not noticing it my foot tipped it over. Before I could come to my senses my other foot hit the crystal one more time and when I looked down pieces of crystal were hitting the walls and bouncing back to the centre of the room, sliding in water. Stepping on water and pieces of crystal was enjoyable as it made an eerie sound. Suddenly I became aware of the saxophone again.

A bit further ahead, for the first time in this hallway I saw another person. She was a philosopher with a business card. I wasn't interested, plus behind me a tall man had began striding. It took me a while to realize that he wasn't following me; simply for a short time he had to travel the same path, yet I could feel his eyes burn a hole in the back of my head. That tall man had an amazing inkling to bash my skull and shred my brain to pieces. As it were, I began imagining with him how magnificent of an addition my warm thick red blood would be to those shiny cold white tiles; together we would disrupt the godawful sterileness and order of the tunnel. But as long as there was a possibility of a camera catching the act he would attempt no such thing.

Far from the philosopher and the tall man, I became a walking machine once again, until a compartment inside the wall grabbed my attention. It was a prison cell without a door or any bars. An animal weak and old was sweating and panting inside the hole in the wall. It gathered all of its strength in order to extend an arm and pull me towards its weak self but failed. I got closer to see what it wants. The animal had difficulty speaking, with ceaseless panting it begged "forgive me, I am regretful, forgive me!" It tried to squeeze my hand in its own, continuing "I beg of you, forgive me! but it wasn't my fault... do you hear me, it wasn't my fault! forgive me". It crawled out of its hole to make sure I can see its animal face soaked in tears, jaw shaking beyond control. "It wasn't my fault. Everyone's responsible, responsible for their own life. It wasn't my intention, believe me! It's their own their own fault, if they paid more attention it wouldn't happen to them." The animal quickly looked at a surveillance camera that was pointing at us before fixing its wet and eyes back on me, "they trusted those cameras too much. Only if they protected their own lives, that incident that incident wouldn't... you have to forgive me. I didn't mean to, do you understand, you have to forgive me. forgive me". Knowing how worthless my words are I said to the animal "I forgive you" and it who up to now was on its knees fell hard to its side and started kissing at my feet. It found a new will to live, stood at once and started running in the direction which I had come from.


I am still in this hallway, walking. Haven't seen anyone since and I've forgotten their faces. The saxophone carries on and so must I. There are no cameras and the lights are further apart now, there are even gaps of darkness inbetween and the gaps increase the further I go. I guess soon I will be in total darkness and yet there's nothing that I miss. Except sometimes, for old time sake, I laugh with myself.
SAHAND MOHAJER 
©2018