The blind organ-grinder swirled around the crank, as if in a ritual. He walked with slow, hesitant steps into a world that only suspected that it was the Light. The old melody rang across the street, covering it with its archaic accords, mirroring the faces of the passers-by, throwing the notes over them as a blessing ... or as a curse.
The asphalt cracked, leaving drawings on the sidewalk of a strange labyrinth, hiding an unknown door to the underworld. The sidewalk was rattling hard, as if someone had just thrown sulfuric acid on it. Everything was melting around, the smoke rising to the sky, the water that remained on the ground became poisonous, the curses of the ghosts of the old sailors began to be heard.
Then I looked up in horror at the faces of the passers-by and watched with amazement that they were laughing. In wide, unsteady grunts, deforming their features, their eyes playful and cheerful. Others, just with a simple smile, but a huge one, poured over the whole face, as if in an instant hyperbolized by some ambitious photographer, put on tricks.
Ha-ha-ha-ha. Ha-ha-ha-haaaa, their laughter was heard as the acid rushed more and more from the sidewalk, and the blind old man continued to maneuver the crank as if in a magical ritual of a secret initiation. He was moving forward, with trembling steps, but with dead white eyes fixed on the horizon line... pointed towards infinity.
I looked up, trembling, to Heaven. It was raining like a release. When the splashes started to rip on the hot asphalt, I prayed it was not acidic.
I woke up suddenly. I saw the walls of the cell, the grates, the sky rising between the iron grilles.
I was alone in a cold cell, full of dampness, cursed. Cold drops fell around me, where a deep, foreboding silence was felt.
I realized at a tragic, painful moment, that I was deprived of the most precious good that a human being can obtain, apart from salvation: freedom.
Locked up in a cell, the prisoner of some walls. Condemned to be not able to walk, to breathe deeply the pure air of heights, to never enjoy my life again.
"For what? God, for what ????" I exclaimed, in a cry of helplessness.
A solid guard appeared, then a cup of semi-heated tea slipped through the bars. I wasn't even called to the table, in any arranged space.
I spit in it with rage and asked to speak to a superior.
I will have to clarify things as soon as possible, otherwise my bones will rot there.
After a long wait, at a time when I could do nothing but look at the cold walls, the dim light and imagine the birds outside as they fly to countries that cannot be caught by the eye, finally someone was happy to talk to me.
Some sort of officer, captain, I couldn't figure out exactly what his grade was. In fact, it didn't matter too much.
"Hello," he said with a grin. "How can I help?".
"Well... let's start with the simplest thing," I sketched a sort of irony. "Why am I here?"
"Do you really not remember?"
"I have not the foggiest idea".
The captain scrutinized me carefully with his insistent look, to convince himself that I was not playing theater. When he thought it was clear, he was kind enough to give me an answer.
"It was a tragedy. You killed the Pearl in Chains soloist. The fans wanted to kill you, but in the end you escaped lynching and came to us. You are sentenced to life, friend!" he said with a vague trace of compassion.
"What ??? Who did I kill? What did I do ???". I was astonished.
"You have thickened the syllables in the imagination of an Eskimo frozen for millennia ... you tortured the ballad of the dead bird at the birth of the lake ... You broke the protective screen of the silicon watch exterminated by the extraterrestrial duty", I was given to hear, as if previous ones were not enough for me.
"What do you say I did? Man, are you crazy, or what? I want to get out of here, and as soon as possible!" I exclaimed angrily.
"Ah, excuse me, I forgot I have to use the protocol language. You probably can't decrypt our expressions. So, you killed Pearl in Chains vocalist. You shot him in the head with a revolver with damper. I have no idea why you did it, maybe you tell us ... ".
"What's this bad taste comedy? Of course I didn't kill anybody. And there is not even that band - two bands, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains, activated once, now what did you do, a hybrid?"
He looked at me like I was the crazy one.
"Friend, I personally have nothing with you. But here, as elsewhere, you must abide by the law."
"Here? But where am I, after all?"
He beat me friendly on the shoulder, as the only concession that was allowed, however.
"Welcome to the world of the broken dreams ... There are certain things that will seem strange to you here."
I stared at the ground, unable to reply.
The blind organ-grinder appeared to address the entire planet through the arrangements of his long forgotten song. He was still laughing, everyone was laughing unsteadily, but it could only be read on their faces, because otherwise they were dead, almost motionless, as if someone had just immortalized them in a diorama.
It resembled a pantomime of the absurd, with a recital of frozen gestures over time.
The crank was still rotating, mechanically, unstoppable, and on the faces of the passersby reflected, for a few moments, the Sun. They are bright, happy. But only for a few seconds.
Then the acid corrodes the streets, kills lives, threatens to invade everything. The rain drowns their dreams, the huge clock at the intersection, whose tongues have remained petrified, shakes from the ground, as if touched by the earthquake.
From the artificial fog there are forgotten cemeteries populated by ghosts, etheric crosses rising above the ground ... Inscriptions in an archaic language.
"What is it?" I asked, before being taken by a beneficial breeze, which saved me as a wonder from the suffocating atmosphere around me.
One second ... Two ... Three.
Time stood still. The earth split in two, a violent lightning descended from Heaven, the curses were again cast upon mankind.
Souls suspended between the worlds, a frozen spell, a forgotten season.
I'm alone, just behind the organ-grinder. I'm trying to lose myself in the crowd. I hide behind his smile.
From them? From me? From God?
I was left alone in the cell, sad, almost resigned, for the moment I was limited to listening to the guards' conversations.
"For a while, I'm going to smoke a little from the hallucination of the dead nymph ...".
"I took a deep breath of burned gasoline ... soon, time will break in the mortified domino of the darkness."
"Do you want to feed a piece of blue chalk? I still have a liter of white fish ...".
Incredible. I'm alive? Am I dead? I dream?
Who are these people and what language do they use? What does this cursed realm really represent? Why am I in prison?
How to do it ... I wondered almost horrified. From here, it is almost clear to me that no one will let me go and I don't think anyone will be released to bail me. If it had been a dream, I probably would have woken up already. The only contact with the outside (in fact, with something that is external to me, to be more precise) is the short escapes in the world of the barrel organ and the laughing people, a world that almost always ends with drowning waves of acid and spells.
And then what should I do to escape? I am the prisoner of an endless maze, doomed to endless torture.
"Now you can enter ... I have finished the beatified shadow ...", I heard from outside, as if to convince me that I will end up not understanding anything anymore.
Alone in a cursed cell, coming out of known space and time.
I would like so much to run, to walk through the sunny parks and the glamorous museums of the Capital, to write, to dream, to kiss my girlfriend ... To look at tourist leaflets, to eat pizza ... So, without useless pride, without vain dreams ... I only ask for life from an elementary thing: to live quietly. To have the chance to rise above my own passions. To be free.
I WANT TO BE FREE !!!!, I cried, crushed by the vastness of the walls around me and the hostile and absurd atmosphere of that land.
I continued crashing into the cell full of dampness, crying, tearing sheets, then, in the afternoon, falling asleep in a sleep that acted more like an anesthetic.
The next morning, the superior visited me again.
"If you want to be free ..." he began, as if he wanted to point out that he had heard my words the previous day, "then why don't you follow the rules? It was so easy to do it. Why do you do it? - did you kill Kurt Staley? "
I felt like I was finally gave up.
"There you go again? You do not understand that I did not kill anyone? In addition, there were two singers Kurt Cobain of Nirvana and Layne Staley of Alice in Chains. No singer has named Kurt Staley. However those two lived in the US, and I'm in this fucking Eastern Europe. And anyway, one, according to official reports, committed suicide and the other died among others due to drugs. How do you believe your story? Why keep me locked ? Who pays you ??? ", I was interested, feeling that I slip into the conspiracy theory.
"Can't believe my story? All right, then wait a little, please ...".
He briefly disappeared into an adjoining room, then returned with snippets from newspapers and photographs.
There I was able to see, with astonishment, the funeral stone of Kurt Staley from Pearl in Chains, my photos with my gun in hand, press statements and the like ... All its version confirmed, to the smallest detail.
I stood motionless in the middle of the room. The shock had been too big.
The blind old man defies death, the laws of nature, the Universe. He move without fear in the middle of the overcrowded street, among the boulevards that run hundreds of kilometers per hour.
He sees nothing, but he is not afraid of it, because an unwritten law, an unseen force, helps him to walk among the cars, remaining unharmed, so that he can spread the archaic song over mankind ... A small miracle performed only in the name of art.
He always laughs, with that unique expression, as he turns the crank ... Passers stop in place, with those broad, beautiful smiles, full of bliss.
Are these people happy? I wondered, all of a sudden, while hiding, as usual, somewhere behind the organ grinder.
Who do I hide from?
From me? From them? From God ?, I repeated my question.
Are they really HAPPY?
The asphalt opened in front of me, letting the gates open to the inextricable labyrinth. A dense, acid rain poured from Heaven, drowning everything in its path.
We must flee... The miracle cannot perish so easily.
Instead of the colorful slide I was so used to, the gates of the imaginary cemetery opened in front of me, I felt the etheric presence of the ghosts coming to meet me again.
Price of a second if I could understand ...
Then I see a cursed inscription, which casts upon me a feeling of immeasurable guilt, of endless sadness.
INRI Kurt Staley. A great musician murdered by a vagabond.
I wanted to get back on the street, but it was impossible for me. I had wandered the road leading to the exit of the cemetery.
I had to continue listening to the nonsense language of the guards, who, when they did not speak to me directly, continued with sentences like "I extracted a little violet from that abscons in five minutes", I had to get used to not being able to to see only those walls once white, full of dampness, to content myself with the soft sheets and the cheap food, of a very poor quality, which we consumed, however, in order not to die of hunger.
I was buried in that horrible prison, lost in time and space, almost resigning myself to the idea that I will never get out of there again.
One morning, I asked a guard to bring me papers. This right to information had not been restricted to me, but I had not used it much until then.
I went through the news that did not tell me much, as they seemed to be written for another time, possibly of the future, I had the patience to read an interview with a politician of the moment (of whom, however, I had never heard), to I finally stop at a scientific article about parallel worlds.
I sat and meditated on its content, still looking, absent, at the title: Parallel worlds and their significance.
"Welcome to the world of broken dreams ... There are certain things that will seem strange to you here," I recalled the captain's words.
Then, in a split second, I understood. Here was the key.
Nothing was logical, everything remained unexplained, at least according to the notions and knowledge I had learned. It was not a dream (it was already too long). And there was no fake or staging (see the proof the captain gave me with those photos and snippets from the newspapers). Then what could it be?
A parallel world, this was the only explanation.
A parallel world in which I had penetrated for a long time and in which I struggled terribly, but did not know how I had done it.
After a while of a few days, in which I thought a lot about what I had to do and did a lot of searching on the net (fortunately, I had access to it) as if coming out from a parallel world, I called again the superior.
He sat in front of me tactically, as if before a confrontation.
"Hello ... How can I help you?"
"Nothing," I replied without blinking. "Now I know you can't help me with anything. But let me tell you my story. I'm an ordinary man, I have a job, a house and other things like that. In my spare time, I write novels and listen to grunge music.
I recently had the revelation on what happened. Each man has an imaginary universe in which he escapes to be happy, a world unknown to anyone, in which he advances on a hierarchical scale, is never rejected by his girlfriend, wins the lottery, his grandparents are immortal ... and so on.
It's an imaginary world, of course ... But what if his dream were to come to life somewhere without our man realizing it? What if everything happened in a parallel world? ".
"Interesting," the captain said, looking at me through the smoky lenses of his glasses. "Since when do you have this theory?"
"From today," I replied briefly, then continued my little demonstration. "But I did not want to talk to you about this world, but exactly about the opposite of it. You do not have to be a genius to realize that the opposite is also true. I mean - a world in which the darkest dreams come to life. Fears, the darkest obsessions come to light, the most frightening things manifest themselves. Here, on the contrary, rape, murder, theft, you practice the most odious things that the animal in you dictates. A parallel world that represents, in fact, your darkest nightmare. "
The superior looked at me in silence.
"Well, in such a world I have entered now. I regret wholeheartedly the murder of Kurt Staley - I can not honestly remember what the reasons were. Probably envy or something like that. I am very sorry for everything what happened and I hope that through my brief stopping here I have atone for some of the guilt that presses on me. But I can no longer bear this burden. I must return to my world ... To be free, "I concluded.
"Wait a little ..." he tried in vain to stop me.
"I read on the net how it comes out of a parallel world. Therefore, I sacrifice the hallucination of the dead nymph at dawn on the altar of the god of darkness , " I said, and deep under my skin I inserted a needle that I had found lost in the cell and which I had kept it carefully.
The blood began to flow, and a few spikes seized on the floor, even over an old cement engraved symbol, in front of the captain who was shaking like a miracle.
In a few minutes, I will return to my world ...
The blind old man spins the same, shaking, cranking, while crying with bitter tears. He stops in the middle of the street to challenge the cars, but almost resignedly receives the acid rain from the sky.
Before, these streets looked like sunny dioramas, like little out-of-the-way landscapes in which people were smiling, laughing ... Now the ash of sulfuric acid is entering through the cracks of the asphalt, feeding the shrouded mouths of invisible monsters.
In the long-forgotten cemetery, an etheric cross rises slowly. Received part of the ransom.
It's Kurt Staley's.
Passers-by do what they have never done before, filling with the sadness of the unique diorama: They cry.
They cry, and tears flow from them, unsteady on their faces, mixing with the drops of rain.
Burn time, dead hallucination.
A dream that suddenly stopped in place.
It's the moment of retreat that they keep because I left between them.
Were these people ever happy?