The Waste Land
Hark, oh hear, good folk of ill repute and to thee all my lugubrious tale shalt I promptly impart of an event which occurred in a place where the ululating reverberations of the nether world seem trivial sporting, and which I of all people do in high regard hold.
‘Twas a night before this one, and I had hours to kill,
I sat in the tavern grading parchments with quilt.
A squalid old place of decrepit appeal it was
Worried I was not probably because
Darkness long ago hath me in thralldom brought
But listen you now as my story there I wrought.
Youthful hue did on my face rest, when with prowess my frail heart sumptuously I bedecked not to swerve into the abysmal domain of Cowardice and persuaded myself upon Mitrovica’s foul grounds my foot to set. Darkness there, nothing more.
After a long and rather irksome odyssey I finally reached my destination. Ere embarking on my formidable quest, tales I did hear and legends thereof about the prominence of the city back in the days of yore when people rioted on the streets and the laughter of children diminished the overall dismal ambiance which then, upon disembarking, my mind perplex’d. Years ago, they say, the city was an ideal place where one could peacefully reside in, yet alas! poignant was its fate and that was not the case any longer. In this world, all was comfortless and gloomy.
Immediately after my arrival, I sought myself a sanctuary to find as to hide my disenchantment from the judging eyes of the rising sun. Truth to tell, many a time I to return have turned, but adamant in my decision knowledge of this place to obtain I remained.
The busy lark, the herald of the day, one Sunday morn, did rouse me from my tranquil sloom as if to hasten me into motion. Donning my attire, I went out into the world of Mitrovica wonders to hear. I have not traversed a few steps, when all of a sudden, as if from a convulsive spasm, I stopped and beheld a hoary-headed man alone, worthy of so much reverence in his looks that owes no father to any son.
‘Who are you’, I did him inquire, ‘who have survived this long in the eternal prison of shadows numberless and are still able to draw breath, even though the pestilential air decays everything which not sickness is?’ ‘After nine decades’, said he ‘I think that I can finally bestow upon someone some of the vast wisdom that I acquired roving to and fro amongst the specters of this forlorn realm. Therefore, hearken to my useful admonition lest thou want thy soul into perdition ere its time hurl’d.’
Storm clouds gather as ireful specters howl
The thoughts of the dead among the living prowl
To an old man alone I my ear do lend
All my woes and fears he to mend.
‘This town’ said he ‘which now you observe is nothing but a shadow of its former glory. War-torn and poverty-stricken, it now lingers on the very precipice of doom. In its whilom opulence, one could not help but admire its splendor. People lived happy and in prosperity. But their happiness was ephemeral. A race of people accursed by mighty Jove in Heav’n did famish these lands, banning the people from their homes never to return. Only a small portion of us left. They slaughtered my family, but for some reason I was spared. Now, every waking moment is a new fresh hell which lasts in eternity. My only solace is that one day I will die and that the nightmare will finally stop.’
‘Holy cow, old man’ I did him retort, ‘but how do you survive now? What is your secret to staying alive in a place degraded so low such as this one?'
‘I live in a sordid flat which is barely fit for human habitation, so if you want to stay alive out here, allow me to draft you a manual. Most nights there is no water, so make sure you fill a gallon or two, even though it is highly polluted, cannot be drank, and is definite to cause a rash when applied to human skin. When going outside, make sure you bring your Geiger counter, as radiation here can be a real nuisance. Just last year I got cancer, imagine that. Also, and this is really important, never buy weed here. It’s terrible stuff. They mix it with regular grass as to expand their quantities. Yuck! Anyhow, if you happen to be outside, taking a casual amble, there are certain places you should steer clear of, as they tend to conceal hoodlums who like to stab and shoot people, just because ‘they’re happy’, or so they say. If it is food that you’re after, there is no food. You’d be better off skewering an opossum and drinking its blood mix’d with manure than buying their rancid victuals. Always be supplied with candles, because that is what you rely on when the power goes off. In addition, don’t forget to bring hallucinogenic drugs, since the rays of sunshine never perforate the bleak sky, and you get that uncanny feeling that Armageddon is upon you and that you’re about to fight the Satan. Stay indoors most of the time and pray. Praying is crucial. Jesus is the key. Praise him. Adhere to this guide, and be blessed with longevity!’
Departing therefrom, I bowed my head in salute and went my way into the soporific mist a wiser man to buy myself some heroin.
End of the first story.
Not A Drop to Drink
The general atmosphere in a dorm never seemed so hopeless. My life seems to be reduced to all the things I used to disdain. I got myself caught into a scheme which consists of the mundane things. The summer brought the whole city to life; therefore I hope this summer fever will put my days in motion as well. While thoughts of today and tomorrow intertwine in my mind, I am slowly being consumed by mysticism of dreams.
The mixture of the wind echoing in the window panes and some notes of folk music disrupt my slumber. So, it makes me wonder what a horrific crime I did commit to receive a punishment in the form of the melodies my delicate ears cannot possibly bear. Never mind. Ignoring the fact that my ears are hemorrhaging, I try to enjoy the sun rays which are slowly overwhelming the shadows and announcing the beginning of a new day.
Being already late for lunch, I had to make haste. Getting dressed, I glanced through the window to see what the weather was like. The sight in front of a dorm was utterly disturbing. A combat was taking place in mid-time of the day. It was a clash of two gangs, fiercely shooting at each other. No one was fearless enough to interfere, beside the ambulance vehicle and one paramedic who occasionally approached the field to collect severed body parts. Well, it seems I dodged a bullet by being late. An hour later, the tension was assuaged and the friendly atmosphere took over as if nothing happened.
Looking through the window, an unusually crowded tavern caught my attention. All of a sudden, alluringly eccentric young lad entered the tavern across the dorm. The peculiar thing about this persona was a thing that the moment he sat down, he took some ancient yellowish papers from his obsolete tweed jacket and started jotting something down, as if he had not even a minute to waste.
A few minutes later, I noticed a quirky fellow with a disturbingly serious face expression. While he was crossing the street, I got the feeling that he noticed me starring at him, and got hit by a car. I will take this as a divine sign to stop staring curiously at strangers and mind my own business instead. The ringing of my cell phone brought me back to reality. A colleague of mine informed me that there will be no water in Mitrovica for a whole week. It was on the news. Briefly, due to the negotiations-gone-wrong parade, a group of vicious vandals destroyed nearly one half of the plumbing system and it would take at least a week to fix the damage.
I rushed to the bathroom to check if the cistern was full. Not a single drop. Trying to keep it cool I went to see if there’s any gallon of water on the terrace. The answer was no. Everything was empty except for a dew-brimming dappled vase, which was standing there for years. The public cisterns with water will start circling through the town the day after tomorrow. Since I had no supplies, I could not afford the luxury of waiting that long, so as an alternative I put myself on a cumbersome quest!
At first, I visited each and every supermarket searching for bottled water. Unfortunately everything was already sold out or was being saved for somebody. Just my luck. On the bright side, I found a muddy, suspicious, obviously already used, one third full bottle of water. These few sips gave me, beside many bacteria and fungi, just enough strength to continue my mission.
As I was wandering through the city of Mitrovica, searching for the solution, an amazing idea suddenly occurred to me: what could possibly be a better place for getting water than an actual river? And so, ‘twas Ibar I was headed for! Little did I know that this was easier said than done.
The first obstacle I came across was the muddy barricades. So, I had no other option left than to traverse the woods. That’s how my laborious journey through the wilderness commenced. After two hours of breaking through the lifeless branches, high level of radiation was slowly, but surely, taking its toll on me. The unbearable thirst kept me motivated, so in spite of the fact that I was slightly disorientated, I gathered all my strength and continued. It was hours before I arrived at the river bank. Joy filled my soul and happiness put my whole being in motion, as I started running to the river. Then, out of the blue, great misfortune befell me; all what was left of the once breathtaking river were dry rocks covered with mud. Thereupon, I extended my tearful cheeks to the heavenly grace and wept like a child.
Hoping I’ll find something, I descended into the river bed and started searching for something drinkable. After I had found various spiders, giant bugs, a few dead fish, tons of rats, one bat, a billion sticky, repulsive creatures unknown to me, I finally came across a little bit of water hidden in the soil behind a brownish rock. Eventually, digging in the dirt paid off, and I was capable of gathering enough strength to plot my next move.
Passing through the dark allies of Mitrovica, without a moment to spare, I was trying to find my way home. This water shortage got me depressed and indifferent. No wonder I find myself doing some things that are against my better judgment. Even though it was getting late, the night was calm, starry and dry. Broken and beaten by the thirst, I sat down on the cold stony stairs near the church. A noise coming from the van pulling over caught my attention. God forbid it’s the same one I saw earlier today. A woman came out and started to unload bottles of water. My desire to survive made me act impulsively. So, without having a moment to spare to think about it, I stole two bottles and started running as fast as I could. Later that day, after drinking some monkey blood, I realized that I should not have done this, as the woman was clearly trying to help those in need.
As I was getting near the tavern, I was starting to feel safe. The town was unusually crowded. Men with dirty faces and women with greasy hair were everywhere, discussing among each other this unpleasant situation. Dazzled by the street lights, I sat on a bench in front of the tavern, opened the bottle, and just when I was about to drink it, a monkey thief came out of nowhere and stole my bottle.
Judge you the rest.
End of the second story
Shimmering light, finding its way through the thick clouds, slapped me across the face as I was lying on the foul hospital sheets. Why am I in the hospital you ask? Well, you're in for a treat!
It was 7 am in Mitrovica, a town abundant with opportunities. That day I woke up a little later than usually. Actually, now that I think of it, I did not sleep a wink that night, nor any of the previous nights. Come to think of it, my life has degraded so low over the past couple of years, that I really had no reason to live whatsoever.
I finally gathered enough strength to get up. Considering my immobile plant-like nature, I considered this an astonishing accomplishment. Boy were my spirits lifted!
Now, when I was finally up, and believe me this did not come as surprise to me, I did not know where to go nor what to do. I've been feeling like this lately, and now the feeling appeared to have reached its peak. I turned my PC on and sat down.
After eight hours of gaming, when I had literally depleted all my strength and energy, I decided that it was finally time for me to do something. But first, I had to find something to eat as hunger assailed me with all its might. However, this proved to be a rather tedious task which I promptly withdrew, because to get food you had to move, and I was not in the mood. So, I decided to stay put and stare out the window. I am not really sure why I did this, but I guess it was easier than doing something which required body movement.
Staring out the window, there was really nothing interesting to see, save for a few people who were regurgitating the delightful canteen food. I stepped away from the window, and sat on the sofa to contemplate my life a little bit and ponder on my life's accomplishments, the credibility of which many would sneer at. However, thinking proved difficult, so I abandoned this endeavor as well.
Shortly afterwards, I remembered that it was my turn to wash the dishes, but I was way too exhausted from doing nothing to perform this strenuous feat, which is why I decided to make everyone else miserable around me by being utterly useless. My whole life I have been adhering to a rule which goes as follows: If it falls under the bed, it's gone. Forever.
When I got tired of sitting, and believe me I wanted to try and stop being useless but never got round to it, I accumulated enough thrust to move from the sofa to study for an upcoming exam. Lifting a book off the shelf gave me some trouble, but I managed, somehow, to do it. Unfortunately, however, I forgot, if only for a moment, how to use my legs and fell, hitting my head on the nearby table. I think that I was even unconscious for a brief while.
Anyway, after I came round, I've had an epiphany of the nothingness of the world and my place in it. I realized that everything exists but that nothing has value, which is why I decided to go outside and kill myself.
Believe it or not, I also failed in this endeavor as well, because as I was crossing the street to throw myself off a bridge, a speeding car ran me over like a dog.
There you have it. This is a reason why I now sit here in the slovenly Mitrovica hospital, on the vile sheets, being slapped by the flickering sun rays; a fine place this is, with demented doctors who frequently diagnose me with tuberculosis when I clearly have the flu.
Darkness falls as a doctor with concerned look on his face approaches my bed..
End of the third story.