400 years

Sunrise. Sunset. Days like seasons, moments. He closed his eyes and opened them again and the world outside the window had altered, torn down, rebuilt, expanded, arised, ingrained. During the deep winter there was no sun. Only the moon, yellow and dense, so distinct that the landscapes emerged, dappled valleys and mountain ranges carefully scetched with graphite. During the high summer it never got dark. The cold and the warmth took turns and assumed different impressions. Dazzled or dumb. His eyes burning in the summer and his ears closing in the winter, but it was more about the time than anything else for neither heat nor cold had affected him for a very looong time. Electricity, fluorescent lights, elevators, airplanes, paved roads, cars; all the things that arrived with time would leave with it, but not the moon and not the cold, not the warmth and not the sun. At least not for a good while. Cities formed, wars ended, silence or odd sounds replaced each other, orders rose and realities faded away. Or divided. He wanted to see himself in the mirror, but there was no one there to be seen. He had bought countless mirrors through the years, always hoping that the next would be special and let him see himself for the first time in centuries. You need to see yourself sometimes. Not to know what you look like, not to know who you are or what you are, but simply to know that you are. That’s the linguring question when everything around you is born and lives and dies but you don’t. You’re the moon. It didn’t help that the heart didn’t beat.

In the middle of the night now. Abysmal december night i Luleå. Christmas soon. In the street a red bus now and then with a few solitary passangers, a tired stop and a beaten lawn beneath the knee deep snow between the towerblocks dressed in lemon sheet metal and chapped concrete. A reeling man in a brown beret and a green jacket, spotted many times from the same window, walking the same course. From the pub to the apartment, along Creek Street. Over and over again. A frame in time playing a scene in a neverending loop. The time is not dreary but stale. Vapid and difficult to feel, stretched thin, diluted and illusive. In the apartment a slight echo, despite its littleness. An old wooden floor with an odd wear, like paths. A kitchen, a table and a chair. A sofa, a TV and a newspaper from 30 november 1978 lying on the little table. Like a distorted children’s tale. A neighbour screaming in the night. Fights and arguing, cries, bad music, people coming and going, buying things, the police. The thought had visited him more than once. To wring the neighbours head of and drink his blood. Nikkinen in 1201, he had read on the door standing just outside, waiting for someone to open. He dreamed of doing it. Tear up the door, close and lock the door behind him and slaugther everyone in the apartment, hang them up to drain, save the blood in cans and bags. Like boars. He could do it. But he knew what would happen if he did. Deconstruction. One’s entity torn out of the body and stored in a mountain forever. He knew it. He had talked to her about it, talked to the custodian. She didn’t really want to send for them, she didn’t want any disorders or breaches. Order kept. They see everything, nowadays. Knows where you are, knows what you’ve done, senses if anyone or anything disturbs the order of things that are. More and more so with time.

400 years never passes quickly, but they pass. 1618, or 1619 or 1620. Somewhere thereabouts. The years didn’t really matter. He didn’t remember much from the time before. He was a soldier with a tiny cottage and a spot of land given to him by the king of Sweden. Then began a war that never wanted to end, still the longest ever, history said. A rain that never ceased to fall. An awesome army marching through a frozen and dank world. He had never seen so many people before. Swedes, fins, mercenaries from other nations, paid in loot, pillaging everything in its path. Stops near by an abandoned and burned village on the edge of a thick primeval forest, somewhere on the continent. Fuming fields and charred cottages, burned soil and food turned into ashes. It was there and then that he became what he was, born once more on the outskirts of a village by the edge of a forest when he was about to fetch some sour wood to prepare a fire to boil water to clean wounds. A bite in the neck and a blistering through the body. First he thought it was a bullet and that everything was over. It scorched and scuttled. Warmth drained from the veins and the skin licked against the bones like a dried crust. He tried to breath but the air was not allowed to enter his besieged body. Then a cold, like being left in the dry snow in Norrbotten’s midwinter dark. A heart depleted of blood that cease to beat, a world descending into mist, fades away. He woke up in a muddy bush to a grey dawn and a rain that continued to fall, fall. Covered the wound with a handkerchief, grabbed the firewood and gazed at a world that forever had changed shade. Bluer, paler. Just as creeping damp as before but it no longer touched him. Continued, marched on for years on end. Drank blood in the battlefields, cold and sick but at the same time more alive and ten times stronger then before. Shot and stabbed and wounded but not killed. By the fires in the evenings he sat and starred at the others. Some glanced back at him but nobody ever tried to trade a word. He never again had to eat moldy bread or rancid horse meat or drink dirty water or his own rank urine, or sleep in the mud. He never froze again. They turned north when the king was dead, a long wandering home through pillaged lands along ragged roads. The remains of an army, once the world’s mightiest, worn down to shadows, defeated by the fog. Came back to frozen fields at the edge of the world where the winters were deeper and darker and the harvest meagre.

Works in a hospital now as a security guard. Steals bags of blood from the fridge. A, B, O. Like eating foul scrapings. That’s what blood from a bag tastes like. Stale death, massacre, burned curcuits, slightly sweet with a sharp aftertone of rust that lingers through the night, settles down in the mouth and slowly burns out. Like sucking blood from dead soldiers in the battlefields 400 years ago. Blood is best warm but better cold than luke and sticky. In the corridors they lie in hospital beds, moaning as if it was 1630 in a soggy, dark red field with a cavalry charging out of the smoke in front of you, with an artillery somewhere in the fog. The wars had ended. At least here. He rides the bus through Luleå while the morning still is early. Beholds the mist over the ice in the harbour. Reminds him of another war when they marched over thin, black ice with an entire army. Cavalry, artillery, soldiers and slades, wading in water and living darkness, across a sea that froze in one night. As if they were creatures allied with something. Works now. Mostly nights. Steals blood bags, drinks blood, rides the bus while the night is late, sits awake and stares into a washy orange wall or at the TV. Contemplates wether this apartment still will be around in 400 years, if any order remains and reigns, if the battlefields are still out there somewhere, if he’s still in here. A reeling man in a brown beret and a green jacket, spotted many times from the same window, walking the same course. From the pub to the apartment, along Creek Street. Over and over again. A frame in time playing a scene in an neverending loop. Cold outside, so freezing that crystals has begun to form on the glass, trying to get in. He steps closer and breathes on the pane but nothing happens. No condensation. Same thing outdoors. Breaths, but no steam in the air when he awaits the bus at the stop across the street. Inside the window time stands still. Only the dust moves, floats around in the room. No breaths on the window. No heart beating. He has bought a new mirror and he stands and stares straight into it, hoping for something to emerge but there is nothing an no one there to be seen and he doesn’t know what he looks like or if he exists but he can spectate his arms and legs and touch his face with the tips of his fingers and he shuts his eyes and feels his face until time goes away. The neighbour screams again. Incoherent, dull callings, as if sprung from a distant creature. Two dogs howling along with the man. He wants to tear the man’s head of and drink his blood. But he can’t. He’s not allowed to. He must not disturb the order of things that are. 400 years never passes quickly, but they do pass. They do.

400 years

Next story: Anthem