...WATER, WATER, WATER, WATER, WATER, WATER. Am I dead? WATER, WATER, WATER, WATER. What happened? WATER, WATER, WATER, WATER. Is this the end of the world? WATER, WATER, WATER, WATER, WATER, WATER...
That is how my mouth swallows everything else. Maybe my mouth will swallow me, and then this will be over.
I decide to crawl, to measure the space of my prison. I know the rubble and the hand on my left - I don't need to go there again. I don't want to touch that clammy skin. In front of me, and to my right and behind me, is just darkness, though maybe I should stop calling it that cos there's no light at all; it's more blackness. I shift forward on my hands and knees, and I scream when my wrist bends a little and the wound opens. The scream echoes off the concrete all around me.
I shuffle, and I feel like I'm not a person anymore, like I've turned into some animal. I move maybe one body length and then I hit a wall of blocks. I reach up with my hands and stand up, and I feel that it goes up to the ceiling. Only the ceiling is lower than I remember, so that's not great, either. To my right, the same thing - a broken bed, then a wall of rubble. And behind me. I'm in a space maybe one body length in each direction.
I'm in a coffin.
I hold my half of the necklace, and it's sharp in my hand where the heart is cracked in two. I think of my sister, who had the other half of the heart and who I lost when I was a piti-piti boy.
I try to say the invocation, the words to the Marassa, cos they might be able to bring my sister back to me, but I'm too thirsty and I don't remember them.
You're the voices in the dark, so the world can't all be gone. There must be people left.
You're the voices in the dark, so listen, mwen apè parlay. I'm going to speak to you.
I'm going to tell you how I got here, and how I got this bullet in my arm. I'm going to tell you about my sister, who was taken from me by the gangsters, by the chimères. This was 2,531 days ago, when my papa was killed. At least, I think it was. I used to know how many days cos I marked them in my head. Now I don't know if it's two or three days I've been in the darkness, so I don't know how long ago my papa was chopped to piti-piti pieces and my sister was taken. But I know this: it hurts every day as much as the last, as much as the first.
It hurts now, even, and you would think I have other things to worry about, what with being trapped with no water and no food, and no way out.
Maybe, maybe, if I tell you my story, then you'll understand me better and the things I've done. Maybe you'll, I don't know, maybe you'll... forgive me. Maybe she will.
My sister, she was my twin. She was one half of me. You have to understand: a twin in Haiti, that's serious maji; it's something powerful. We were Marassa, man. You know Marassa? They're lwa, gods, the gods of twins - super-strong, super-hardcore, even though they look like three little kids.
They're some of the oldest gods from Africa. Even now in vodou, the Marassa come right after Papa Legba in the ceremony. Marassa can heal you, can bring you good luck, can make people fall in love with you. Marassa can see your future, double your money, double your life. People from where I come from, they believe human twins can do the same and can talk to each other in silence, too, cos they share the same soul.
So you see? Me and my sister, we were magic. We were meant to be born. We were special. We shared the same soul. People gave us presents, man - total strangers, you know. People would stop us in the street, want us to give them our blessing.
We shared the same soul, so when she was gone I became half a person. I would like you to remember this, so that you don't judge me later. Remember: even now, as I lie in this ruined hospital, I am only one half of a life, one half of a soul. I know this. That is why I have done the things I have done. But you don't know them yet, of course - the things I've done, the reasons why I am half a person, the reason why I was in this hospital when everything fell down. You don't know the hurt I've caused.
Excerpted from In Darkness by Nick Lake. Copyright © 2012 by Nick Lake. Excerpted by permission of Bloomsbury. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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