Troubled Minds

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Entry 2013 08/04/09 00:00


"Can I see him now?"

The old man was like a sad statue. Droopy eyes peered up, unblinking as though stapled open. A smile crept onto his face like a worm sliding through mud. 

"Can I?" Evan echoed, thinking the person didn't hear him. 

"Of course. Right this way." The keeper led him through a door and unlocked a door amidst a wall of bars. They passed numerous cells and once they turned the corner the cells turned into solid wooden doors with metal bracing. The fourth one on the left, the man stopped and slid a tiny panel aside, not even large enough for two fingers. He glanced inside. There was a boy lying on a bed.

"I think he's asleep. I'm not sure. Shall I wake him?"

Entry 2014 08/04/09 00:00
Savan heard the footsteps in the corridor; he counted out the steady click of the keepers steel-toed boots on the stone floor. He heard them pass each of the other cells, and come to a stop outside his door. There was a scraping sound and a subtle change in light as his panel was opened, and another change in light as someone looked into his small room. 
Savan heard the keeper speak to someone outside the room, "I think he's asleep. I'm not sure. Shall I wake him?" Savan smiled.
“Good morning, David,” he said, without getting up. "Have you had time to think?”
The keeper coughed a little. “er,” he said, “castle to d6?”
Savan gave this a moment of thought. “You asked your brother for help again, didn’t you?”
“er… well…”
“He said you would lose your queen, if you had moved to d5, like you wanted.”
“That is right, innit?”
“Absolutely right. However, neither of you spotted that if I move priest to c3, that gives me a checkmate.” 
“Good game, David. You may go first again, if you like. When you reset the board I will mirror your first move, a kings pawn, I think, and then a paladin to F6. Would you make Evan a cup of tea? It’s quite cold today.”
There were grumblings from the opening, and the light changed again. Savan still hadn’t moved from the bed. “David had a son, you know,” he said “he was about my age when he died, though it was many, many years ago now. Terribly sad story, but a he’s a nice enough man, when you get to know him. He’s teaching me to play chess. I wonder, did you ask him his name when you came in, or is he to you just ‘the keeper?’”
Entry 2015 11/04/09 00:00

Evan waited until David was around the corner before he moved. Once the hallway was clear, he moved his eye near to the hole. He saw Savan lying on what appeared to be an uncomfortable bed. Evan sighed. 

"I didn't ask his name. It's one of the rules they told me when they came in, only to ask questions about the patient I'm here to see. Which is you, of course." He paused and drew away from the hole. "I was about to ask how you are, but I don't think that question is very... appropriate. I mean... But I'm still wondering how you are, so, how are you?"
Entry 2016 14/04/09 00:00
Savan sat bolt upright in his bed, facing away from the door. “You wonder how I am!” he said, cheerfully, turning to Evan to reveal a broad grin. “O, but what a sense of wonderment have I, that you, great and wondrous wonder of the world, would want to while away the wastes of ticking clocks by wandering in to wonder how I am!  Or is it that you wonder at how I am? How I came to be? Is that it? What sort of sick, twisted world would spit out such a degradation as my wasted, blasted, destituted self?” Savan’s voice suddenly became serious, and he turned away again.  “Well then, I’ll tell you.”

 The door shuddered as Savans shoulder slammed into it without him seeming to have moved through the intervening space, but the door held firm and the only noise from the action was a dull and hollow thud. Savan paused for a moment, listening at the door for the sound of Evens breath, to see if he had stepped back. 

  “It was dad,” he finally whispered, “he was on the drink one night and he cut up my mother, my brothers and sisters right there in front of me as I hid in a dark corner of the rafters cos they wouldn’t tell him where the other bottle was. 
Or maybe it was mam, very old fashioned when it came to discipline, our mam, baby won’t stop crying? It’s the rolling pin for him until he does, till eventually baby grew up strong and clobbered her to death with the rolling pin, and she cried the whole way down. 
Maybe though, the winter was very, very cold, not enough food to go around, and they fed their poor, only son the last of the meat and died themselves. Poor little starving boy, eventually the wolves got in and had a bite to eat, and poor little starving boy, yes he was so hungry, he had a bite to eat as well. 
Or maybe little boy woken in the night, hears the sound of screaming, he goes outside, into the barn, he sees his daddy slaughtering the lambs, and they’re screaming, screaming, screaming, he wants his dad to stop, he’s hurting the poor screaming creatures, why won’t daddy stop, so he picks the pickaxe off the barnyard floor and stops daddy himself, poor thing. 
Or maybe little baby boy was born that way and kills ‘em all cos he was bored.”

Savan was still listening to the sound of breathing from beyond the door. “Tell me why you’re here, little boy.”
Entry 2017 14/04/09 00:00
Evan wasn't watching Savan; he had stepped back. So when the boy slammed himself against the door, Evan stepped back, caught by surprise. He went to ask if Savan was hurt, but then he began to speak in a whisper. Evan moved in closer again so that he could listen. The look on his face could not be described, for nobody -- not even Evan -- could see it. 

There was a long silence after Savan's question. Other sounds became audible: the scraping of something very far down a corridor, echoing down to a mere buzz; the sad and sudden cry of another patient; the faint call of an eagle from somewhere far away, outside. Evan was looking at the floor, at the smudged stone floor, thinking and staring. Then he spoke, tremble evident. 

"I just asked how you are, Savan." There was another long silence. It wasn't so long for Evan that it was awkward. He didn't mind the silences; it was the only way he could hear the small things. "Your past is your own business. I won't ask because you don't want to tell me. That's fine." He stopped again, seemingly think of what to say next. He knew Savan would let him get in a few more words before the boy wanted to start speaking again. "I'm here because I'm concerned... nobody in the right mind would want to leave you alone, no matter whether you want to be alone or whether you think I think you can't take care of yourself or not... So I'm here anyway."
Entry 2018 17/04/09 00:00
Savan thought this over for a moment before saying, “So, my past is my own but my present is at your pleasure? Who then the future, Evan?” 
Savan slowly lowered himself to the stone floor, sitting with his back against the hard wooden door before continuing. “You’re not even curious? Are you that dead inside?” he asked.
Entry 2019 17/04/09 00:00
"No." He waited a moment and drew a deep breath. "I take no pleasure in your present," Evan said. "My curiosity isn't relevant. If you want to tell me then tell me. If you don't then don't. You've already told me five different versions as though this is some sort of game."
Entry 2020 17/04/09 00:00
“Do you not play games, then?” said Savan, “My word, the dead inside argument is gaining ground fast, despite your impassioned upheaval of a refutation, ’no.’” 

Savan thought for a moment as a curious thought struck him.
“When have you ever doubted that what I do is play games?” he said, “When have you ever doubted that your life is one puerile game upon another? What is there in this brief interlude that is worth more than a game in the end? All your serious stares and judgments will not save a single life. Every man born must die; from darkness sprung to darkness we are returned.  We have an eternity to either side, from nothingness we are created, in nothingness we are interred. One lonely instant’s all we’ve got, one day, one second, identical to all, the moment lighted in an instant lost. We who come from nowhere have nowhere left to fall. So a game? Why not? What have we to lose that isn’t times to take? In the end all we have is the joy of playing. 
I am curious… very curious, at the moment I am curious about what you think I am playing for with my little games, do you have a theory? I would be delighted were you to share it with me.”
Entry 2021 25/04/09 00:00
Evan shook his head though Savan couldn't see him. "I play games when I think it's appropriate. I don't think you're... quite yourself. I don't think it's the right time to be playing games." 

He took several moments to think about what Savan was saying. 

"A game is... not real. It makes light of consequences and has no direct impact on... what's around us." He began to draw deep breaths. "A theory... I think... What are you playing for? What do you have? Potential, I guess. Potential to make some kind of change... some influence on the lives around you. But you seem to think that there's no hope for anything, that everything is futile just because we all come to rest eventually. That's what you're saying, isn't it? Because we all have the same destination, we must then all have the same journey?"
Entry 2022 07/08/09 00:00
Savan noiselessly removed the wooden board from beneath him and looked down on Evan standing by the door to his cell. He had removed the nails during the previous night, before going for a wander through the dark empty halls of the tower. Savan smirked to himself, knowing Evan would assume he was still sitting in the cell, his back against the door, the only part of the cell that was invisible from the tiny viewing hole. 
He lashed the sword he had stolen the day before to back, and lowered himself quietly through the small gap, dropping silently to the floor behind Evan, who was speaking. “That's what you're saying, isn't it? Because we all have the same destination, we must then all have the same journey?"
Savan had crept closer to Evan, now he was only a meter behind him. He considered, just for a moment, the idea of walking away, but he thought better of it, there was still fun to be had here. He waited a few moments after Evan had stopped speaking, but finally he said, “You know, Mr. Appropriate, you really should get more fun out of life.”
Entry 2023 09/08/09 00:00
Evan's glance shot to the floor to his left, just enough of a turn of the head to see Savan without moving too much. He stared at the stones for a short while. 

"Thanks for the advice," he said, "but not everything can be fun." He lifted his head and looked down the corridor, and then down the other way as well. It was empty. "I don't know how you got out, but you should get back in. I've found someone who can help you, I hope." He turned to face Savan fully, scanning him up and down. 

There came a clang from the hallway and heavy footsteps preceded a very large figure in robes and cloaks. With broad shoulders, thick arms, a large torso, and concealed boots which made a peculiar clang on the stone, the presumably male figure stopped a short way from them and stared ahead. His hood was drawn low; one would have to be lying on the ground before him, looking upward, to see his face. Yet it was as though he could still see clearly. He looked at Evan, and then moved his head slightly to his right to look at Savan. He took another step forward, this time, with more effort and what appeared to be strain. 

"This is Savan," Evan said to the figure which was easily twice the boy's height. "And this man's name is Mehotk."

The voice that replied sounded like grinding stones. "Give me your hand," Mehotk said to Savan.

Entry 2024 09/08/09 00:00
Savan turned to this new opponent, his mind quickly racing through a thousand different scenarios, everything from his hand bursting into flame at this mans touch, to Evan going mad and jumping out the window, while his mouth in an independent existence gave him time to think. 

“Look at him,” he said to Mehotk, gesturing towards Evan, “I show him the impossible and he can’t even bring himself to care. Apathy, that’s what it is, pure apathy, all his generation are just like him, you mark my words. Mind you, now that I’ve met a man named Mohawk I doubt if much could surprise me either.” Savan looked politely up at the impenetrable wall of fabric that obscured the mans face, masking all expression, all humanity from his form. “You know, I think we shall fast become friends, you and I. Yes, the fastest of friends indeed.” And Savan held out his hand.
Entry 2025 09/08/09 00:00
While Savan spoke, Mehotk didn't even twitch. With the offered hand before him, he lifted his arm with a slow mechanical motion, outstretched a hand big enough to cup a man's skull, and curled the gloved fingers around its target. His hold was very firm and steady, but it wasn't inescapable. Mehotk bowed his head very slightly and made a sort of snorting noise. 

"Friends," he repeated, slurring the 's', "Very good. But I am afraid you erred; you cannot show the impossible. The guards will not like you being free..."

He headed for the door to the small room which previously contained Savan, tugging the boy along, still holding his hand as he reached into the room and pulled Savan inside. Mehotk let go and stood in the doorway, covering half of it with his bulk but standing to one side should Savan want to object. Evan stood awkwardly where he was before. He seemed to be waiting impatiently for Mehotk to do something, but the man did everything so slowly that it would probably have taken a long time anyway. 

Mehotk then addressed Savan with a question: "Do you know why you have been placed in here?"

Entry 2026 09/08/09 00:00
Savan took a moment to savor the sweet slick smell of wet that was unique to stone cells and the darkest caves, unique to silent places, before air fresh from the hall drove the scent away. 

“It’s an impenetrable mystery to me,” he said, sitting down on the simple slab of a bed, “I assume I had performed some service or other for which it was felt I should be rewarded with room and board. But as questions go, yours I find most immeasurable boring. Two more interesting spring immediately to mind. Evan already lied as unconvincingly as ever as to why he had dropped in for a visit, but what brings you to my bare-essentials abode? And what exactly were you trying to achieve when you led me into a room which so obviously cannot hold me?”
Entry 2027 10/08/09 00:00
Mehotk moved into the doorway fully at Savan's reply. He gained a slight burst of energy and speed and seemed a little more alive. He gripped the insides of the doorframe on either side and moved his head into the room, leaning forward slightly. 

"I will address your issues as best I can: You smell freshly of surprised blood. I cannot imagine any scenario where you murder somebody and the lord of Jevithem rewards you with a room and board. Whether my questions bore you or not is of no concern to me. The world does not exist for your entertainment. Evan said he came because he is concerned about you. What does 'concern' mean to you? I am here because Evan requested a particular type of assistance. He finds you difficult to handle, on a practical level."

Mehotk slowly looked around the room and then up at the ceiling made of wooden boards. He observed the window heavily laden with metal bars so tight that a sparrow couldn't squeeze through. He observed the walls of stone brick, each as large and most likely far heavier than a man. He observed the stone floor which seemed to be made of four large stone slabs. 

"A room which cannot hold you?" Mehotk asked, his voice very curious. He withdrew one arm into his cloaks and there came a gentle rattling. "Is it the ceiling?" The wooden boards began to creak and groan, and they turned dark and lost their colour. They appeared to be turning into stone. "Or perhaps, the window is your window to escape?" The rattling continued and the bars wove across and through one another, forming a tight mesh of metal and even plunging into the surrounding stone. "Perhaps you plan to use plans to deceive and manipulate passerbys or visitors? Now, this, I cannot prevent. But let it be known that I my eyes are on you and you alone." 

With a final hand gesture and a softer rattling, something happened in the corner of the room. There was a burst of green and a beautiful vine began to climb the walls and sprawl over a small portion of the floor. It slowed down to a stop and then buds grew and opened to reveal dark blue flowers. Everything went quiet and Mehotk looked at Savan with a tilted head.
Entry 2028 10/08/09 00:00
Soon after the quivering vine had stopped its creeping on floor and wall and the tender blue blooms had opened in the dim crisscross light from the netted window, Savan began giggling, it was just a slight smile at first but it quickly grew through sniggers and chuckles and became a convulsive laugh of such power that he fell off the bed onto the hard stone floor.

“Passerbys?” said savan, still giggling, but getting up off the floor and leaning against the wall with an elbow, his head in his hand in a way that suggested youthful pranksterism. “Passerbys!? You really are too much, this world may not be here to entertain me, but I’m fairly sureI  am here to be entertained by it, and you, good sir, are a scream. Where, where, where in regal Riiga wide did Evan find you? Passerbys! But seriously, a comic talent such as yours is wasted on these feeble conjuring tricks. I worked with a circus as an escape artist for a while; I could get a good word in for you if you like. Your stage craft could do with some work, though. Flowers are pretty, don’t get me wrong, but as magic they’re just not original, and they do kind of conflict with the intimidating theme you’ve got going, spoils the effect, if you get me. Your jargons nice though, I like ‘surprised blood’ especially; when in doubt, gibberish, that’s a motto for the ages, that is. But I wonder if your eyes are as keen as you exceptional hearing…” Savan moved his free hand behind his back where it could not be seen from the doorway and extended three fingers. “How many then? How many fingers am I holding up?” he said, smiling expectantly.
Entry 2029 10/08/09 00:00
"Evan did not find me." He paused and looked from side to side, and then behind him at Evan, who shrugged. Mohetk continued, "'Surprised blood' may be jargon to you, but the man which you recently murdered was surprised at the time of his death because his blood smells surprised. Just because you do not understand a thing, is not to say that the thing is beyond understanding." He looked across at the plant, again, unamused at Savan's reactions. "If this world is not meant to be entertaining and your purpose is to be entertained by it, I am afraid you will only feel disappointed."

The rattling began again for a moment and Savan's hand was forced into a closed fist. "Do not mock my ability or you may find yourself unable to do so. It appears it is as Evan said; you are damaged. The problem is in your mind. It is broken. I can fix it for you, if you agree to let me. If you decline, I think you will be in this room for a very, very long time."
Entry 2030 10/08/09 00:00
Savans smile only broadened as his fist closed without a struggle, “cute trick, I must say, but you missed a couple,” he said, and he tapped the outstretched fingers of the hand he was leaning his head against on his skull. 

“Disappointed?” he continued, “Hmmm… no. no, I think I’m actually quite ok with the world, it has seemed to work for me so far. Humor is where you find it, I think. Well then, let’s get this show on the road. Fire away, master Mohawk, fire away. Cure me.”
Entry 2031 10/08/09 00:00
The rattling began. Savan doubled over in what appeared to be some sort of seizure. Mehotk did not visibly move as the rattling grew loud, so loud that it echoed off the stone walls almost unbearably; Evan had to back off and place his hands over his ears. After perhaps a minute, it died down to silence. Evan moved to the door and looked past Mehotk. 

"What did you do? Is he all right?" Evan asked. 

"His mind was broken, very damaged. I have barely seen a worse one, but I mended it. He needs rest. Lay him down."

"Savan?" Evan entered and approached the boy and he bobbed down a little to try to look at his face. "Savan?"
Latest Post Entry 2032 10/08/09 00:00
The boy was curled into a ball, in a silence and stillness that was absolute, so stone like he seemed almost a piece of furniture native to the cell. As Evan leaned in close, the voice of a strangled whisper, a voice like glass scratching on metal, spoke. “You asked his permission,” said the voice, and the eyes flicked up from their short focus and bored into Evan with an intensity of pain that froze the soul. “WHAT ABOUT MINE?!” the boy screamed, his hand darting out to grip Evan vice like by the throat. “What about mine!? You have no idea! The things he did, the things he saw, the fights and torture, the screaming and the arrogance of it that he did it in my name! Mine! That word which was for me, and can be no other - my name! My word!” The grip slackened, the boys arm fell limply and he rolled over onto his side. The intensity of his eyes faded as he receded into the realm of memories, of a time long past when once he had been happy. 

“My word…” he mumbled, “when I was young, very young, I would listen to my mother, she knew poetry, and I would dwell in bliss, in ecstasy over those words, the procession of them and the sounds, it was a joy like sunlight sighing on the windswept dancing of waves shimmering over the spring sweet lake, set free in the hush and shudder of every word as it flowed and skipped me by: and he used my name. Mine.” 

The boy’s eyes slowly rose to meet Evans, and tears were pouring down his face, “And I listened to step after step of meter and rhyme as time pooled and eddied around us and natural law stopped to listen to the glory of every passage passing. And he used my name.”
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