The flight of the alchem.., p.1
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       The Flight of the Alchemist - The Prologue, p.1
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           M. H. Laskar
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The Flight of the Alchemist - The Prologue
The Flight of the Alchemist – The Prologue

  By M. H. Laskar

  Copyright 2013 Mamshad Laskar

  Thank you for downloading this free ebook. Although this is a free book, it remains the copyrighted property of the author, and may not be reproduced, copied and distributed for commercial or non-commercial purposes.

  Table of Contents

  1. From Darkness

  2. Short Beginnings

  3. Late Workings

  4. Ice and Fire

  1. FROM DARKNESS

  Blood red. The pools lapped feebly at the curtain of darkness, remnants of the dying sun. The curtain rose periodically to the beat of a figure masked in its anonymity. It offered him respite, to the resentment of the crowd that wished to drown him in their uproar, through their iron bars and through his, the latter much thicker. Perhaps it was as much for his sake that he was contained within them as it was for those without. For what he was capable of would be the end of many a tale. For what he was capable of is the beginning of this one.

  Slouched over the edge of a rusty, beaten metal bed frame he hung in the silent shadows. Each breath he drew was calm but heavy. In the crimson light of sunset which whimpered through the tiny cell window all that was visible were his hands resting on his thighs, his thumb skimming over his fingers. The veil of obscurity masked his appearance as he sat there consumed by the blanket of darkness.

  Throughout this well-mannered display, the ill-tempered shouting that penetrated the facility did not pause to take a breath. It was a constant barrage of verbal assault... condemnation... repulsion. All the inmates, each with their own offences to justify their imprisonment, united in rebelling against this man in the shadow and against the acts of which he was accused. The prison stank of abhorrence of this one man, lower than the lowly and hated upon by hate herself. No individual sliver of speech was discernible from the flood of outcry, but their message was clear. This human-being did not belong in the society of the dead, let alone the living. He should be cast out in ways he would never forget. Mercilessly. Painfully. Until he begged for death like it was all he could desire, an insatiable thirst for a swift end, an excruciating itch on his back that he could not reach until it drove him far beyond the realms of insanity until he craved nothing more than the little life that stuck to his bones to tear itself away and death to finally consume him. Then, perhaps, he might have gotten what he deserved.

  “Silence! Silence!” rasped a voice over the loudspeaker.

  “Silence!” The chief guard to whom the voice belonged struck his baton across the prison bars of the inmates, demanding they pipe down.

  “He will get what is coming to him... what he deserves... and I revel in the knowledge that I shall be there to see him burn.” The pack of guards in which the Chief sheltered headed hungrily over from the source of commotion to the cause of it. He leered in, taking solace that justice would soon prevail. And best of all, in his prison. His fortress. His dominion.

  “Is it true what they say about him? About his... his face?” asked his subordinate timidly.

  “Beware, curiosity is a most dangerous thing. The rumours are true.” the Chief replied gravely.

  An unexpected rumble came from the shadows within the cell, directed at the subordinate. “My friend, why not take a look for yourself? The truth is but a reflection.”

  “My my, it speaks. On whose authority?” the Chief interjected dryly.

  There was no reply.

  “Come, the day’s end draws near. Our mere presence and acknowledgement is far more than what our captive here deserves,” continued the Chief to his subordinate, turning to leave.

  The man in the shadows spoke again in a malicious tone. “Fear not, my friend. Be wary of digesting what idiocy he feeds you. Inbreeding is known to have detrimental effect on intellectual capacity.”

  The Chief swivelled furiously back to face the cell and strode forward. He paused weightily before nodding to himself and turning back.

  “And a reinforcing one on cowardice, it would appear.” the voice provoked.

  “Open the cell door!” cried the Chief as he swivelled back again.

  “But Sir!”

  “Open it!”

  The subordinate held a trembling security pass-laden hand to the blinking green electronic lock and with a powerful yet sedentary rumble the narrow door slid obediently open. The Chief marched in brandishing his baton, the hungry security personnel at his heels.

  As they entered the cell, the prisoner rose abruptly and stepped forward from the shadows and into the light.

  “What in God’s name!” a guard exclaimed as several horrified gasps erupted from amongst them as they gazed upon his face in the last wisps of ruby sunlight. Stunned into silence, they stood paralysed by shock as they attempted to digest his unsettling visage.

  “What the... what are you?”

  His face was terribly disfigured like nothing they had ever seen before. It was even more pronounced in the scarlet shadows, his appearance beyond both belief and depiction. They stood transfixed, mouths gaping, as time hung in the air with the scent of foreboding. The Chief’s incensed voice penetrated the silence.

  “Hold this monster down! Respect for authority must be ingrained into his hideous form since it is not offered willingly!” he commanded.

  The guards hesitated as they stared into the eyes of the unmasked prisoner.

  “Now!”

  With initial reluctance, two guards lurched forward and forcefully seized each of the prisoner’s arms as the Chief launched the baton into his chest.

  “You... will... learn... to... show... some... respect... to... me!” cried the Chief, eyes frenzied and breath short as he slammed the baton across the prisoner’s body with every word, like a fanatical artist burning with passion, painting with sweeping brushstrokes powered by his entire arm. “Do you understand!?” he spat.

  The prisoner’s head lolled against his chest as a spew of blood-tinged saliva parted from his lips. “I... I understand...,” he groaned.

  The Chief turned to leave, a satisfied grin perched on his gaunt face.

  “...that you strike like a drunken fool.” the prisoner continued. “Childhood inheritance, I see. Like father, like son.”

  The baton came crashing down against the side of his head with a furious shriek of torment from the insulted Chief. No words this time, only intermittent screams from the Chief as he rained down upon the prisoner with blow after blow. The guards, stimulated by the undignified beatings, their initial uneasiness now outweighed, looked towards one another eagerly. The prospect of punishing the most high-level risk inmate they had ever had with their own hands was bursting from the seams of their minds.

  “Please... please...,” the prisoner gasped, grabbing and tearing one of the guard’s breast pockets with his left hand for support as he stumbled, his right thumb still twitching from finger to finger. “Please do not mistake my insight for disobedience, for I possess nothing these dumb animals do,” he panted, looking spitefully into the face of the guard.

  All of a sudden the spectating guards snatched their opportunity, incensed at being called animals by a being with such a hideous facial disfigurement and ecstatic at the opportunity to discipline him. They swooped in with the fury of ravenous eagles, pecking with their fists at every inch of the prisoner they could reach. The scene of utmost chaos spurred the prison’s other inmates into action once more, the mob shouting and hurling abuse and encouragement simultaneously to rouse the guards on to batter the prisoner beyond recognition.

  What felt like several minutes passed in a blur of uproar and commotion, the audience of inmates
wildly cheering on the gladiators in battle who had lost all sense of time and place. The prisoner could put up barely any resistance to the mass of his beatings as he lay curled on the stone floor, limp and twitching. A barely audible whisper left his lips. “Seven...” he wheezed, as he continued his quiet ritual with his right hand as his thumb skimmed over his fingers. The Chief, content with his instigating contribution, stood smirking at the side of the group, overseeing the controlled anarchy. His subordinate looked on from the cell corner closest to the door, terrified and perturbed, staring at the paralysed heap on the floor.

  And then, in an instant, it all changed. The prisoner unexpectedly launched himself off of the floor and into the guards, slamming them to the ground with a powerful swing of his arms. He grabbed the security pass off of the subordinate, leaped through the open prison door and slammed the pass against the electronic lock. The Chief stared aghast as he watched this new disorder in slow motion, his mouth wide open as the cell door rumbled and slid shut just as the light on the electronic lock blinked from green to red and back to green. The electronic security system had just switched to its maximum level as per the automated nightfall schedule.

  “One.” the prisoner exhaled.

  “That one second for which I have waited... calculated,” he panted. “From hours to minutes to seconds. Everything has its value... bless that clock that hangs upon the head of the dungeon staircase through which I came.” He swayed slightly on the spot, grimacing, his fresh injuries glistening in the light of the corridor.

  The guards, sprawled out across the cell floor on the other side of the iron bars, stared at him, horrified, none more so than the Chief. The prisoner had jammed the door in closing it in the tiny window that the red blink of the lock had offered. The security cards would not work to open it, at least not until the same transition the following morning. The dumbfounded guards were locked in the cell for the night. And the maximum-level security prisoner was not.

  “My patience has been rewarded. And your lack of it punished. Learn to control yourselves, gentlemen. Haste not to pastures of fury, they manifest in poor decisions. Perhaps it would be better not to follow this so called fool of a Chief so blindly, for he tonight has been the fall of you all. Now, I must excuse myself, for there is much to be done. The night is young, and purpose old. I bid you farewell.” He grinned malevolently.

  And with that, he was gone, through the unmanned first wave of security stations, security pass in his left hand, poised fist in the other, ready to tackle any remaining obstacles with both.

 
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