Serial novel, by Martin Cid
I look out the window and I am here, I can just remember that. Somewhere in Manhattan. I think we are on the first years of the 21 century, but I cannot specify the year. I am ill, stupidly ill, who gets ill in the United States. I can answer that: just an idiot does. There is a black receptionist, called Tim, who brings me the medicines. I just look out the window for hours and hours. I am trembling. I am scared. Scared of who or what? I cannot remember, sorry. I just can remember I am in a hotel room in Manhattan, 21 century.
I have a suitcase near the bed: ten shirts will be enough. I’m not American or English and this is not my language but this is everything I can remember right now. Manhattan. 21 century. I am shivering; I am imaging a cold mountain plenty of Sun… I can breathe calm waiting for another day. What’s the objective of this game? I cannot remember anything about my mission but I can feel that I really have one mission. I am here for one reason and the actual objectives here are:
1.- Who am I.
2.- What is the mission.
I just know one thing: the objective it’s fixed by my identity and my identity is fixed by the objective. I must work on that, I must work on me. I’ve been in similar situations many other times. You know who are you? Really, I’m in a hotel room in Manhattan, 21 century. You sure? Are you really sure this is not a dream again?
I need to sleep.
I’m still here. The suitcase is still near the bed. I need to approach it, maybe the solution it’s there. I move up, I’m weak, I’m tired… outside, the lights turn on. Someone is there. Who? There’s a note under the door, I will read it later. Now, I am near the suitcase. It’s open. There’re some clothes, man clothes. Yes, I am a man: my first stupid conclusion. I find a passport and I find my name: John B. Mirror, what a stupid name! It cannot be mine! I cannot remember to be John Mirror but that’s the only clue in this deal. According to the passport, John Mirror had been here since September 1, 2010. At least, I had one date and one name. But my mind is still confused: I’m not John B. Mirror. I continue seeking in the suitcase, just a travel book: Poland, by John B. Mirror. Am I a travel writer? It would explain some, but not everything. The book is not special: some photos and some descriptions about Poland, where to eat… same stupid book, same stupid words by John Mirror… but I am not John Mirror. I am sure.
I advance some steps across the room. City lights over my face. It’s late at night. It’s Manhattan, maybe if I read the note under the door I will understand something. I’m there. The envelope is open. Inside, just that:
Game’s not over
I can hear steps outside. I’m ill. I cannot think, I cannot move. Run? Steps come close. I need to move faster. The temperature is getting up. I cannot move. I fall.
I’m on the fire escape. I am carrying the suitcase and an old gray coat. Steps patrol near me, silent, fearsome… but I am not scared, I am just trying to keep the balance, just that. Stairs creak like old woman’s death rattle while my soul is trying to escape of this dream. Manhattan, 21 century. I fall and I hit my face. It doesn’t hurt. I’m again standing. Run, just run. Why run? I cannot even remember my name, I cannot even remember how I came here, I cannot even remember why I am here. Two floors still left: an eternity.
‘Stop, please!’ they shouted. But I cannot do it. I remember the note: the game is not over. What game? I need to find the answers to continue, and I am sure those men won’t give me any answers.
Finally, I got the floor. It’s a strange and secure feeling to feel the floor under your feet. I take a look above. They are wearing the same black clothes, like detectives or police inspectors. I need to run; I cannot allow they catch me. Have I killed? I look at my hands, they are not the assassins’ hands. Sure of that? I’m not sure of anything. Streets are empty, no sounds, no souls. Am I still dreaming? Maybe, but I need to run, I need to escape.
I take the suitcase and I run. I don’t know where I am. At the end of the street, there’s a yellow car arriving at high speed. I don’t know why but I think I am save now.
‘Stop!’ those men shout again. The taxi stops near me. No doubt: I have to take it, it will be the only solution.
‘John Mirror?’ a woman voice asks me.
‘John Mirror’ I answer.
I cannot see the complete woman’s face. She has long blonde hair and brown eyes. I can see them in the rear-view mirror. I lie down on the seat and I breathe twice. I feel my heart trembling, knocking at my dreams’ door.
‘You are not dreaming, John’ the woman says. ‘You need to rest now. Later, you will find the answers you are looking for.’
‘Why is nobody in the street?’
‘Don’t you remember?’ she answer me. ‘It’s Christmas Eve but, anyway, the curfew started yesterday.’
I really need the answers and I cannot wait for them.
‘What happened here?’
And don’t know how, but at this moment I felt in the deepest dream I’ve ever dreamt. Before, maybe I saw her smile, just maybe.
There’s a Labrador dog near me. His name is Jack. Why do I know his name? I know him. He is looking at me, waiting for something. He is in alert, smart brown eyed, blonde, nice dog. I open my eyes, he rushes on me and he begins to lick me. I am sure now he knows me too.
‘Remember him?’ The girl, located in front of me, asks.
‘Jack’ I answer. I cannot remember anything more, but I am sure this dog is Jack and I am his owner. He looks very happy seeing me. I am happy too but I cannot still remember. Manhattan. 21 century.
‘You must rest, John. It’s really important for us.’
‘Where are those men?’ I ask.
‘We are safe for now. Rest, just rest.’
The girl is wearing a grey sweater with red trousers. I think she is cute. She smiles me before she wraps me. I think she’s cute.
‘Don’t worry about it, John. You will remember soon.’
It’s soon in the morning. For the first time in my life since I remember, I see the magnificent light of the Sun bathing the small room where we are. There’s a mirror in front of the bed where I can see her reflection. Jack is on the bed now, taking care of his owner. I like the dog, I like the girl.
‘What’s your name?’
Silence. She stands up, looks out the window and opens it. The air fills my lungs and I can deeply breathe. I feel fine. She approaches and touches my forehead to check the temperature.
‘You will be better soon. Be prepared.’
I am dreaming with a long waste field. At the end of the field, there’s a man with something in his hands. I cannot see it. He is wearing a black hat. He says hello with his hand. She’s gone. Jack is near me, playing alone and running. Good dog! Suddenly, the clouds get dirty, scaring. It’s time to rain. Come on, Jack! We must go home. Where’s home? The man is coming to me and I must run. I know him but I cannot remember his name. I see now: he has a syringe in his left hand and he smiles. Jack is barking. We must go. We run through our dream but I can feel the other reality: she’s talking but I cannot hear her.
When the epidemic began, vampires were asleep…
Fever began three or four years before. No social alarm, no media chaos, just tacit information from the internet fanatics. Flu is incubatee for a week. Sick people must rest for eight days with 39 or 40 Celsius degrees of temperature. After that, there’re no apparent consequences, no future costs.
I can see her again… long blonde hair… long red nails… prettty face. Who is she and why she saved me?
The vaccine takes effect in one or two hours: miracle of science, a great advance. Remember your name now, remember… G.A.P. labs declared the vaccine free, the whole world was amazed. Why is she here? I remember the vampires, who are they? Vampires are here to take your blood. According to OMS, 90% are vaccinated against flu.
I wake up and she is still here. Is she really trustworthy?
‘Who are the vampires?’ I ask.
‘They need healthy blood,’ she says. ‘We call them vampires because they are looking for blood. There are rough numbers talking about just 5% healthy blood. Vampires are seeking for it.’
Then, that’s the reason I am here, I suppose. I need to be silent, I cannot remember the girl. The dog is looking at me again; he’s in my dreams, licking my hands, good dog.
‘Take one of these.’ She’s giving me a pill; do I really need to take it?
‘It’s just for fever. You don’t need if you don’t like it.’ And she smile, it’s really hard to say no to a pretty woman. I take the pill. No apparent effect. Fever might make me delirious.
‘Did you send me the note?’ I ask.
‘Who did it then?’
‘I don’t know.’
I am feeling worse, even worse when I was in the room. What was in the pill? Is she a vampire too? For the moment, I need to trust on her.
In the beginning there were some immune people… and the alarm began… and flu changed its own condition to attack those immune people.
I am dreaming with the waste long land again. Jack is near me, trying to tell me something, barking, hitting me with his paw. Who am I, Jack? I am in the room now, she is near me again. I’m delirious, I’m sick. I cannot move and I cannot find the words to describe this situation. I’m stuck. She is going to take her bag. What’s in? Jack is barking again and again but I cannot wake up. It is cold here, the vampires are near us. We must run, Jack, escape of this dreary dream.
‘Sleep, John, just sleep.’
21 December 2011
Half an hour of delay. I would like to smoke a cigarette. I am at the Hannover Airport. Germany. I am carrying just a suitcase. I am going to travel to N.Y. to meet John M, medicine doctor, maybe he has the answers I need. I feel strange in the airports, people dancing the corrupt dance of schedules, dates and fast encounters, people losing time, people wasting their lives. I’ve been in Germany for two weeks. I don’t like Germans, always as efficient as unpleasant, always as honest as ordinary.
At the bottom, there are two men observing me. Did they know anything? Since this game began, I always feel someone is watching me. I feel like a paranoiac but I feel fine. The last note I’ve received, it talked about a room in Manhattan. Everything is paid and I just need to wait. I like when everything is paid.
I switch on my computer to check the email. One message of him. No data… it’s very strange. He used to be sharp, but this is very strange. My flight to N.Y. is announced. I expect seven hours of hell, I don’t like to fly, but since this game began, I don’t do anything more than fly from one city to another, following the instructions of that man. For the moment, no answers and many questions.
She didn’t see it. I am now watching the note under the door. She’s still looking out the window. I needed to take it first. I woke up silently, she’s smoking a cigarette, I like the smoke bathing the room. I took the note and I hided it in my pants.
‘Do you want to smoke?’ she asked me. It would be nice. I took one and she helped me to light it. I began to cough and she smiled. ‘You must be really ill, John.” I smiled too but I continued smoking. ‘May you be alone for ten minutes?’
‘I can. I’m feeling better.’ I kept on silent. I needed to read the note in my pants. Does she know about the note? She kissed my front before she left the room. Too pretty, too affectionate?
Finally, she left the room with affected steps. I can read it now:
John Mirror is dead
The two men, who were observing me at the airport, take the same flight. I was expecting it and I keep calmed. I am reading a stupid fashion magazine. The most interesting things in these kinds of publications are always the advertisements, always plenty of design and style. I greet to my observers and they turn their heads. It’s always fun for me to upset the observers. Maybe later I can talk with them about politics or fashion, both so interesting. Do you want my blood, mates? I smile, even I cannot smoke.
NY. JFK Airport. December 22, 2011.
My fifth trip to USA, my fifth interrogatory. Police men ask always the most stupid questions you can imagine: What do you think about Islam? Or… what’s your opinion about Republican meeting? Someday, even they asked me about catholic pedophile priests. Of course, I didn’t know the answer they wanted. After 30 minutes, or even more, of unwise questions, I show them my proud journalist card and they leave me.
When I am picking up my belongings, one of the police men gives me something.
‘I think this is for you, journalist’
One new notation, but this time a key is included in the envelope:
I decide to show the note to the police man.
‘Do you know what a hell is this?’
The police man take a look and with no doubt says:
‘Sure, man! It’s the number of a locker! It’s your lucky day; I can show it!’
It’s funny to go through the airport guarded by a police man. People look at you and you can read on their faces the phrase ‘look, sweet, he is a terrorist’. The police man says me goodbye near the locker. No trail about the vampires. I introduce the key and everything is fine: the locker opens and a light and black briefcase appears. I take it, but I decide to wait until I stay in the hotel.
It’s raining in NY.
At last, I can smoke a cigarette outside. People look at me and wince with pain. I like the feeling of being a devil with the simple gesture of inhaling smoke.
I give the taxi driver the address of my hotel. Somewhere in Manhattan.
John Mirror’s blog post. November 2011.
One of the most peculiar things about flu is its total ability to adapt to the body. Flu won’t ever do a mortal attack, determining itself the force of the attack it can use. Even if we are talking about an old person or a baby, flu won’t kill. Flu will stay in the body until it suddenly changes into a silent part of the organism, restructuring itself into a new silent entity.
Somewhere in Manhattan.
Finally, I arrive at the hotel. I open the windows. There’s a black bellboy called Tim who helps me with the bags. No money for him, he smiles, I really like people with humor sense.
I open the briefcase and I call Loraine, my blonde dream. Maybe this time I may be lucky but I know the truth: maybe not. She is coming. Maybe I will hide the content of the briefcase to her. Journalists always are the best bed mates, but they are never the best friends. I hide the briefcase under the bed and I smoke again. I’m feeling worst and I need to take a rest.
I go to bed.
The Hospital was empty, only covered by a fine layer of dust dancing in the air. Lorraine was wearing a short skirt, maybe too much striking, even for the Intensive Care Unit.
‘Doctor Mirror?’ She asked.
‘Second room to the right,’ the receptionist answered.
When she entered the room, there was a note over the desk and a briefcase. She opened the note and read:
Here you can obtain some information about flu. Don’t publish it now. It is not ready for now.
Lorraine smiled. Why not publishing? In these times and in this job, the most important thing is not the truth but the speed. Lorraine took the briefcase and left the room as quickly as she got in.
Phone call to the editor. He is anxious.
‘Do you have it?’
‘I have it.’
Next step: the editorial department.
He opened the briefcase: two recipients with two bags of blood. He was expecting this for months. Would it be so easy? When the game began, he was just a grant holder, less than a journalist. Now, he had on his hands the definitive proof: the blood. Somewhat had to be wrong, somebody had to be deceiving him. He decided to hide the briefcase. Did Lorraine know it? He couldn’t be sure. He needed to talk to Dr. Mirror.
He checked the mail. No new messages. He took a deep breath and he could feel her perfume in the air. Lorraine was there.
Somewhere in NY.
‘How is he?’ he asked.
‘He is getting better,’ Lorraine answered. ‘I think he can remember soon, very soon.’
‘Did he read the notes?’
‘He did. He will remember what we want’
Budapest. About 3 months before
The bar was plenty of people and she was late. When he asked for her, he received a mysterious answer:
‘You will recognize her. There’s just one like her. Just look at her lips.’
Everybody was smoking in Budapest. Buddha was the ancient zone, maybe the most beautiful, maybe the best… but she preferred the new one, Pest, the commercial aerea for tourists… but when you are in the city you just see and old city plenty of History and sense, a real piece of culture.
‘I hope you were late,’ she interrupted. When he looked at her, he was prettified: she was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. With European habits, she kissed him and she sat down. Without asking for permission, she lighted one long cigarette. ‘I really like this place. Have you ever been in Budapest? You can buy a liver in the morning and you can lose yours at night. Funny, isn’t it?’ Have you ever been with a girl who attracted all sights? He was something between annoyed and flattered. She asked for a wine.
‘When we talked by phone, you mentioned something about one project. I can be interested.’
‘Flu Project,’ she answered while she elegantly drank the wine. ‘With Flu Project, control over people will reach levels you have never imagined. What do you think about destiny? People lose all their lives thinking about future, about who they are… What do you think if we can offer them the happiness?’
He took the coffee. What the hell she was talking about? He had found crazy women everywhere, but crazy women didn’t use to be so cute. She took some papers from her briefcase and she offered him.
‘This can convince you… or you can continue thinking I am crazy.’ After that, she winked at him and she stood up. ‘I will call you.’
Lorraine left the bar through the attentive sights
Editorial department. NY. One week later
‘Did he take the bait?’ The newspaper editor asked while he was smoking a great and long cigar.
‘I’m your best gimmick, am I not?’ Lorraine answered nicely. ‘In two months, you won’t have a story, you will have the story.’
‘I’ve never promised anything, Matt.’
NY. Day IV
Flu doesn’t allow me to think, flu is beyond my means, beyond my thinking. The blonde girl is still here but I don’t ever know her name.
‘Lorraine, this is my name.’ Has she answered without hearing my words? I might swear I don’t say anything. ‘I am journalist. I came here looking for you. You have something interesting to us.’
What is she talking about? I cannot even remember my name and it’s supposed I know something interesting to press. Lorraine lies down near me, breathing same air than me. Is she not afraid to become infected?
‘I cannot, John’ she answered. ‘I took the vaccine months ago. That’s the matter of all disasters.’ She talks slowly, like a preacher in his pulpit. ‘That’s the reason why the vampires want your blood. Don’t you remember?’ She touches my forehead and I feel stupidly sick, stupidly motionless, stupidly stuck.
‘Why are you here?’ I asked finally.
‘We must take care of our project.’ Now she plays with my hair, it’s a stupid irony that same flu that paralyzes me, it brings her here now. ‘Think about it, John.’ I cannot think in these circumstances, Lorraine. She kisses my face now. Am I dreaming? If I am, this must be the worst of the nightmares. She stops now. ‘Remember Flu Project, John? Before you got sick, you were working on it. We must remember what you remember, we must know what you know.’ And I cannot remember anything, even my identity. Am I a man called John, dead John Mirror? ‘You are, John. You are who you want now.’ She speaks very slowly, is that a trick? ‘No swindle, John.’
Somewhere in Europe
‘Got the blood?’ One man asked.
‘I have. Even a vampire cannot distinguish between this and a real one.’
… And they placed slowly the two blood bags in the briefcase.
The man with the white coat kept still for a moment and took the syringe. I couldn’t move my arms were tied with ropes to a chair. There were three or four more people in the hospital room. I couldn’t either close my eyes or even open my mouth. I tried to keep on thinking about Lorrain and her long hair, on her eyes and her smile. They introduced the syringe slowly and I felt my blood escaping and laughing of me. Doctors had their faces covered with masks. Even when I was a child, I never liked doctors. I used to cry every time I had to go out. ‘Am I ill, mom? If I am not sick, why must I go to the doctor?’ I never found the answer, not in the past, not for now, sure I won’t find it in the future. I observed the room: there was a clock tinkling and making fun of me. ‘Where is my mom, doctor?’
‘She is dead, John.’
I remember her white face in the coffin. Yesterday I was playing with her, now she is dead.
‘We will need more blood, John. Will you be brave? Do it for your mom.’
I am unable to close my eyes, like if there was an invisible artifact keeping them opened. Where are you, Lorraine? Where are your sight and your kisses? Doctors hit me. Again? My father was a good man but he couldn’t put up with the situation. One whiskey more, one day less to stay again with your wife, good man.
‘Blood is blocked.’ Doctors are nervous, now my blood is laughing of them. ‘We will get what we want, John. It will be easy if you relax. We will take the blood with your help or without it.’
Am I dreaming? If you can concentrate enough to the dream, you can even control it, change the space and time… you can be the god and you can play with the pawns as you can determinate. They introduce a new syringe in the other arm. It’s smooth and warm, there’s a clear sky near the clock.
‘Get him sleep! Now!’
I feel the poison in my veins, I feel past and future in one forgotten verb, I feel her face falling into the deepest dream of nothing and everything.
‘Stop the fight, John. Just sleep.’
Madrid. August . 21.30 p.m.
Stifling heating everything, asphalt burning over the tourists with fans. You could recognize them with a slight sight: two blonde men with English eyes, English faces and English manners. Yes, they were English outside the bar drinking coffee and talking.
‘Where can we find the guinea pig?’ One of them asked, the most elegant one (I just say ‘the most elegant one’ because he was wearing a shirt, not because he was prepared for going to the Opera House).
‘We will need someone like a public person, not a famous one… we need someone who will be able to communicate the information and interested to media.’
‘One freak?’ both laughed.
‘We won’t be wrong if we got one! We will need credibility too.’
‘What do you think about a doctor?’
‘Oh, a doctor! It would be brilliant!’
Germany. 1st September. 11.30
One special letter got his attention. Maybe it was the simply signature on the envelope, maybe that almost negligible essence which enveloped the room. He thought immediately: no doubt, it was a woman letter. For one slight moment, he imagined her: maybe she was an old mate from the University, maybe an old girlfriend… Dr Mirror opened the letter, took the glasses and comfortably sat down in his favorite chair, the olive one.
‘Let’s see.’ he said out loud. He read the letter carefully, slowly, paying all his attention. At the end, he couldn’t get a clear image of the woman. ‘Once and for all, I need a girlfriend!’ The letter talked about a boring medicine project, nothing special to emphasize. The only interesting point was the promise of meeting with the girl in two weeks, during the girl’s trip to Germany. ‘We keep in contact,’ the letter laconic finished. ‘How they will meet?’ he thought. ‘I cannot meet with a girl if I cannot recognize her! At least, I would need a photo!’
As you can imagine, Dr Mirror hadn’t have female company for years. He wore wasted shirts and jackets, beard and a general sloppy appearance which talked about what he needed: a female hand.
He left the letter on the table and he prepared to get out. That day would be especially boring, teaching new stupid young doctors about his last blood researches. When he left the University, he used to dream imagining his new medical life in Africa, saving lives, taking contact with people… how different from studying and receiving prizes! Every time he published one article in a prestigious medicine magazine, his colleagues congratulates him again and again.
‘Brilliant!’ they used to say. ‘John, you did it again!’ Blah, blah, blah… Praises and praises and smoke. Before he went, he drank a little glass of whiskey, the ideal and necessary element to put up with one more boring bloody day.
At least, today he would think with that mysterious girl of the letter.
Anywhere in Manhattan? Day IV.
There’s something inside me, I know now. Is Lorraine her real name? I don’t suppose so. She is taking care about the creature I am gestating inside. I can feel its little claws growing up, its teeth slowly sharpening… I recognize the room now, they tried to make a dream of reality… yes, they extract my blood… yes, they have a plan with me, they confused me first to give me a name before. Who am I? Where the hell am I? I’m not English and this language is not mine. I was a different man before, maybe I have a family somewhere, maybe not, but I am sure now I am not the doctor, I am not who they pretend me to be. I see now the marks on the wall and I remember the clock there. Was Lorraine the girl who slept me? I don’t suppose so, but I am sure she is part of the plan. I remember my mother’s face and her death now, but I am not sure if these memories are mine in fact or they are implementing me for some reason. She is in front of me; sometimes she took my face to check the temperature. Is your plan working fine, Lorraine? Is your game looking good? I cannot escape in these conditions, I cannot move now but I am beginning to understand the reality of things, the cruel game they are playing with my mind. The creature is sleeping now. I feel its breathe inside me, I feel its smooth movement and its slowly growth. I need to stand up and go to the bath, maybe if I look inside I can expel the creature from me.
‘Are you fine, John?’ I won’t answer you now, Lorraine. I am sleeping.
Germany. September. 2011
Doctor Mirror was excited for the strange day. He hasn’t received any photo or anything to recognize her. Anyway, he was intrigued but happy. Finally, she talked him about some kind of merging blood to induce some changes in the patient. He looked around the square and found her sitting on a chair, dressing a white dress and a young smile.
‘Nice to meet you, Doctor Mirror.’ She said. She was blonde and cute, like a model from a commercial TV. ‘Some colleagues of you were talking me about experts in blood and your name was always the first. You seem to be respected in your work.’
She was riht, but mentions and prizes hadn’t made him happy.
‘What is the project about?’ He finally asked her. She tossed and smiled with the most impeccable smile he could ever see and she began to speak.
When she finished, he was convinced she was mad but, who can say no to a beautiful girl?
‘We can begin next week. Is it everything o.k.?’
‘We can begin next week,’ the doctor finally answered.
…** Fake Game, serial novel by Martin Cid will continue every day in Yareah magazine (12th first deliveries).
Martin Cid has said of his novel:
‘It’s just a rarity within the literary world, but it has some kind of original ideas.’
‘Characters who try to play characters, lies into lies, mirrors at last!’
‘I have tried to do something different, something doesn’t enforce the hard literary rules.’
‘Fake Game sounds like avant-garde, like a book written in the 20’s. You know, Paris and characters that change their essences in every chapter…but in today’s world of manipulation at all levels: genetic, advertising, depersonalization. It’s the busy Manhattan too.’
‘Have you ever felt the desire to change your own words?’
‘Have you ever felt the desire to be another character playing in your own novel?’
‘An author gives always blood, in every page.’
‘This is a story of genetic manipulation but of people trying to come alive again. It’s the personal growth, people who don’t want to submit, who don’t like ‘vampires’.’