The Final Believer – Chapter One
Here is what I think will be chapter one. There is another candidate for Chapter One as well but I am fairly certain this will be it. Enough said…let’s go:
London – yesterday
He got up to piss. Drink lots of fluids, she told him that before she fell asleep beside him. He stumbled into the bathroom, his legs unsteady and his head foreign to him. He was scared. The fever had come yesterday afternoon. And it hit him hard; knocked him to his bed within the first two hours. He turned on the light in the bathroom. It was white and showed the ugliness of the dirty tile. He remembered the prettier lights from the freak meteor storm a couple of nights ago, multicolored, hundreds of them. The floor tiles were stabbing icicles to his feet. ‘Fuck’ muttered Achal Chai as he put his hand up in front of him and onto the wall for support. He pulled out his dick.
A lot of people would be happy if he died. The list was long and he knew it. All of his wife’s family and half of his would be glad to see him gone. Her family were Muslim and considered him unfit to be married to Sakina. They would attack him for certain once they learned he was sick. He must remain on his guard against them. Especially her brother, Naseem Radi. That little prick with his fancy suits and haircuts, that little prick would gladly gut him like a fish, with a big smile on his face as he did it. Mr. Smooth. An overdressed nobody.
Achal smelled the fancy soaps. He resented her spending his money on fancy soaps to impress her family. They were not worth it. He hated them all, every single one of them…even Sakina. She had brought their mutant spawn into the world to drain him even more. Needs from their mutant little mouths and their mutant little outstretched hands. Needs that sucked the life from him. More work needed for this, longer hours needed for that. He had been working 12 hours every day until he got sick. He hadn’t had a day off work since summertime, over four months ago. Nasrin needs extensive dental work, probably braces. He wished he had made Sakina have abortions. Fucking leeches. His life had become the remorse of all that might have been.
Now they would come for him. Hold a pillow over his face while he sleeps. Make it all look innocent, an accident in the night. Nothing unusual. Just one less Indian descendant taxi driver in east London. Most lives can be easily summarized, categorized and dismissed using the right words. Only the important and the crazy escape categorization. Yes, they would murder him and keep the house, as a vacation home while they spend most of their time back in Lebanon. What a shit hole they come from, he thought. An arid, dusty and rocky place. And dangerous. A place where alliances are important. Her family fit it well. A sneaky, filthy and mean people made up her family.
He finished pissing and put his dick away. He flushed and moved over to the sink, the white alabaster having years ago lost its gleam. The healthy tap water formed a rust ring around the down spout, a testament to the chemical shit storm that it really was.
He saw his reflection. The red veins in his eyes were now throbbing. His black hair was glued to his forehead with sweat. The collar of the overly large white undershirt looked like it had gotten tired of waiting for her family to act and had started trying to strangle him, the fabric pulled over to one side and stretched as far as it could, without ripping. It was one of the symptoms of a restless night of fever sleeping. Outside of the window a pigeon was instructing his youngest offspring in the sense and smell of danger and when to flee. They departed quickly.
Achal knew it would be his last night alive if he went to sleep again. He filled the glass next to the sink and drank some water. The taste of chlorine filled his nostrils before the taste of it hit his mouth. He checked the door to the bathroom. He unlocked it momentarily then relocked it. They would have to break it down to get to him. He looked around the bathroom for weapons. He took a long pair of scissors from a clay pot on the metal rack beside the sink. He opened the medicine cabinet. He took a pointed metal nail file from the shelf and put it into the palm of his hand and made a fist around it. He looked down at his weapons. He nodded. He was ready. Let that cocksucker Naseem try to come through that door. It would be the last fucking thing he ever does. He felt the anger boiling in him. Then he felt dizzy and weak. He grabbed the edge of the sink. He felt that way, the way we do when we are about to faint, the audio distortion of the minor sounds, his labored breathing, the sound of the toilet tank refilling…both now a million miles away. His knees proved incapable of support so he lowered himself down to the floor as best he could.
He sat on the floor for a few minutes thinking about his safety. He could not stay in the bathroom for the rest of his life. And he didn’t have the strength to fight them all. He knew he was doomed unless he could take the fight to them. They were all sleeping. His only chance of survival was to attack them all now, as they slept. He carefully pulled himself up, a hand on the sink, the other on the toilet, pushing and pulling him back onto his feet. He was wobbly on his feet. Then a very sharp pain hit his head. It was a stabbing, sharp pain, shattering his thoughts of survival and turning them all into prayers for the pain to cease. ‘Fuck’ he grunted in a hard tone. He dropped to his knees. It was the worst pain he had ever experienced. Even worse than when he broke his fingers playing cricket as a child. Water rose in his eyes and he grunted again. He grabbed his head with his hands and massaged his forehead to no avail. ‘Please make it stop’ he said in a begging growl to the void. But it only got worse. He gritted his teeth and groaned again. ‘PLEASE MAKE IT STOP!’He felt the pain of a Trotsky-like ice pick to his head as repayment for his prayer. He lost consciousness and hit his head hard on the tile floor when he fell.
He awoke without the pain and in a pool of his own sweat. He didn’t know how long he had been unconscious. Minutes? Hours? He was still alive so he they hadn’t found him yet. He looked at the bathroom window and saw that it was still dark outside. But the first glimmers of light were beginning to make their way to the forefront, changing the frosted dark glass to a brighter shade of violet. He rose feeling much better than he had since he fell ill. He felt strong. He felt alert. He turned on the faucet then splashed water onto his face. He noticed it when he raised his head and looked in the mirror. At first he thought it was water on his long eyelashes refracting light in a peculiar way. He took a towel and wiped his face. But it was still there, now even brighter. ‘This is some fucked up Buddha shit’ he said to himself. All around his body was a gold glow, as if coming from him. ‘You’ve been sick, Ach. Your head is just playing tricks. You feel better now. No, actually I feel great. Fucking great.’ He smiled and looked at himself in the mirror confidently. ‘Those assholes had better not fuck with me. I’ll fuck their shit up.’ He paused for a moment, then muttered ‘Hindu warrior. Yeah. Fucking Hindu warrior.’
And warriors need weapons so Ach made his way quietly from the bathroom to the kitchen downstairs, nail file and scissors held tightly in his hands. Once there, he traded them for two long pointed knives, the kind good at cutting through meat. He stood fully erect, then lunged forward and made a slashing motion with each hand. Then he stood up straight again. He nodded and smiled. ‘Better not fuck with me.’
He moved from the kitchen back to the stairs. He skipped the squeaky second stair. At the top of the stairs he turned left towards the bedroom where Naseem slept. The fake wooden flooring felt spongy beneath his feet. He smelled the jasmine fragrance from the plug in air freshener in the hall. The baby was in the cot next to Sakina and Nasrin had already migrated from her bed into theirs during the night. Ach would make sure that Best Dressed was still asleep then go to his daughter’s bedroom, lock the door and go back to sleep. Maybe it was just the fever that made him feel so threatened. He looked down at the knives in his hands and wondered if they were really necessary. Then he opened the door.
Red. It glowed red all around Naseem. Ach noticed it. Then a fraction of a second later the sharp stabbing pain returned to his head. It was worse than before and he dropped to his knees with a thud. He closed his eyes for a moment and the pain stopped. He heard the springs in the bed squeak as Naseem rolled over. He opened his eyes for a moment. First the red glow, then the pain again.
‘Have you come in her to beg me to bugger you again’ said Naseem sarcastically. ‘I told you, I do not like you in that way. Well not with you anyway.’ He laughed at Ach.
‘Make it stop’ cried Ach. He held his fists with knives to each side of his head. The tears were in his eyes as he relented and closed them again. The pain subsided again.
‘You should have married one of your rent boys, not my sister’ Naseem said venomously. ‘Now go back to your bed before I take one of those knives and carve another shit hole in that fat ass of yours.’
Ach opened his eyes. The red then the pain, like a boxers combination punches. Ach got to his feet. He looked at Naseem. ‘Fuck you’ he said loudly. He lept towards the man on the bed with all of his strength, his knives pointed down from his fists as he sailed through the air towards the bed and Naseem.
‘Help’ screamed Naseem. He was getting ready to scream again when the first knife pierced the left side of his chest. An instant later the second one hit his abdomen, going through him until the very tip of it exited his back.
‘You dog’ were his final words before he died. Ach watched the glow fade from Naseem’s eyes as he lay on top of him. The instant of death came abruptly as if it should have been accompanied by a popping sound. Pop, the red glow around Naseem disappeared. Pop, the horrible stabbing pain in Ach’s head ceased. The virus flooded his body with Serotonin and he felt great. ‘Yes’ he growled fiercely, ‘the Hindu warrior prevails.’ He got up from the bed and looked down at the dead body in the bed with the knives stuck into it. The blood was seeping onto the sheets and the mattress and the color seemed uniquely beautiful to Ach, as if a more beautiful red had never been seen before.
‘Daddy.’ He heard the words behind him. He turned to see his daughter standing in the doorway. First the red, then the pain hit him. An instant later Sakina was standing beside their daughter. More red, even more pain. Sakina looked atthe body of her beloved brother on the bed and screamed at him, ‘what have you done’. Ach steadied himself against the dresser from the pain. He couldn’t close his eyes around them. They could not know his weakness.
‘Why did you hurt Uncle Naseem’ asked his glowing red daughter.
‘Shut up’ he yelled at her and he kicked her. His foot hit her chest and sent her crashing into the flimsy closet doors across the hallway. Her body broke through the louvered slats and she stopped after collapsing a shelf filled with towels and tablecloths. Her red glowing body lay limp and unconscious.
‘You bastard’ cried his wife as she lunged at him with her long fingernails as claws. But she was no match for her warrior husband. He moved to one side quickly and grabbed her by her arm and slung her as hard as he could across the room. She hit the wall head first at a peculiar angle and dropped onto the floor at the foot of the bed. She tried to get up then collapsed.
He looked away from them both for just a moment. He needed to be pain free for a moment. ‘Finish the job’ he muttered angrily to himself. He turned back towards the bed. His wife’s glowing body and the pain began again. He walked over to the body on the bed and pulled a knife from its chest. He looked down at Naseem. ‘You should be happy, fancy man. You hair looks perfect, you fucker.’ Then he turned his back on the bed and his wife. He changed the grip of the knife in his hand as he looked out of the door and across the hall at his daughter covered in towels. He walked towards her.
Doctors said that Sakina should have been incapacitated by her broken neck. One even said it was a miracle that she did what she did. Regardless of their learned medical opinions and mystical allocation of responsibilities, Sakina rose from the floor. She withdrew the murder weapon from the stomach of her older, womanizing brother. And at the moment when Ach raised his daughter’s body from the closet in order to slash her throat, it was at that moment that Sakina, with her head flopped to one side of her body uncontrollaby, plunged a knife between Ach’s ribs and into his heart. His death was instant and he collapsed with his daughter in his arms, backwards onto his wife.