I am quite late in posting this, apologies, my brain doesn’t function well in such humid heat as we’ve been having of late, which means editing seemed almost a foreign task for a few days.
Anyway, here it is, part four of chapter one. If this is this first post of mine, or of my story ‘Mad About You’ that you are viewing, please go to my post feed and start from “Mad About You Ch. 1 Pt. 1”, otherwise you’ll be quite lost.
Feedback is always appreciated, this book is far from ready to be published, but I wanted to share the first chapter over a few weeks with you all. Thank you, and I hope you enjoy!
Mad About You
Chapter One, Part Four
By: Patrick Hart
It was impossible to tell what progress the train had made after he had been knocked unconscious. This was due to a severe lack of landmarks in the strange country that lay before him, which in turn caused him to ponder why a train would have any need of anything but straight rails if no obstacles were in its path. Turning to his left, Samuel saw that he was in the caboose of the train, for outside the door at the end of the car, that monochrome world was framed by the door’s small square window. Walking up to the door and peering out of the window, he saw tracks disappearing into the horizon behind the train, curving every now and again. To his right, another compartment lay between his hospital room turned involuntary sleeping quarters, and the exit to the next car. As he moved toward the exit, Samuel stopped at the other compartment door, gave the handle a try, and found it to be locked.
“Ah, you’re finally up, good, good, good.” A bodiless voice bellowed, surrounding him.
Samuel whipped around, startled, and saw nothing, or at least, the shadow of nothing. Out of the corner of his eye, if he concentrated–like his perception of the world outside–he thought that he could almost see someone to his right, but whatever it was disappeared as soon as he turned to look at it. He didn’t think disappear was the correct word to use, it was much more fluid than that, like fog. He thought it more apt that the shadow seemed to dissipate as soon as he tried to look at it straight on, as it wasn’t an instant disappearance, and likewise didn’t linger.
“Peter, I gather?” Still trying to see his apparition face to face, and feeling like a crazy person in the process.
“Aye, so I am, so I am, to yourself at least.” The voice boasted.
“I don’t follow you.” Samuel responded.
“Well, my boy, to many I was he of the name Charon. Then to one man, I of the name Virgil. But to you, sir, Peter Blackburn at your service.” He sounded smug in what Samuel took as his strange résumé.
Samuel felt cynical disbelief at this, it couldn’t be true, the stories that fit those names in this context were fictional. Still, this place was so vastly different than what he had been brought up to expect, that he felt his footing on the factual was slippery at best. He found himself caught off guard, not a great many things had surprised him as the shadow of his life had become long. Near the end, bitterness, guilt, resentment, and regret were all so strongly a part of him, that it had been rare to find himself stunned, only weary and apathetic. He managed to come upon a reply he hoped would come off as coherent, “No. That’s impossible, those were only stories, characters written of fiction and myth.”
“I’ve known a great many that’d disagree with you, laddie, and a great number more that would have cut you down right where you stand for implying as much!” The voice grew loud and incredulous.
Samuel rubbed at his temples, “Still, I have no reason to believe a man that I cannot see.”
Peter burst into boisterous laughter amidst his reply, “I see yer point. In truth, ye caught me. A small joke to lighten the mood. That one never gets old, ye should’ve seen yer face.” He must have seen that Samuel was not as amused as he was, and stopped his laughter with a clearing of his throat, “I’m sorry, that one usually gets a chuckle out of folks, and it’s been so long since I pulled it, you understand I’m sure.”
Samuel thought himself quite glad that his hallucination was having so much fun at his expense. He had not been one for breaking the ice for a great many years. He felt that a joke so deliberately deceitful, especially given the circumstances, was bad form on whom he had marked as his host’s part. “Could we, perchance, get to the point where at least some, or all is explained about where we are, and why in blue blazes I can’t see you or whatever is outside these windows save for a moment when I turn my head away?”
“My, if you aren’t an impatient one, sure has been some time since I came across one of your lot.” Peter’s voice still sounded friendly enough, certainly more friendly than Samuel felt at the moment. “Alright Sammy, I’ll ans…”
Samuel gritted his teeth at the bastardization of his name, but was recognizing the man’s intent was not one of condescension or insult, so he tried his hand at addressing Peter tactful manner, “Samuel, please, if you will. I never could stand childish nicknames.”
“If you’d like, Samuel.” Peter overemphasized the name. “By the great divine if you aren’t a hard case, anyone ever tell you that you have the funny bone of a dead man?” Samuel could hear the man’s smile in his voice as he made this joke, and chose to ignore it. He was beginning to feel that he had been paired up with the ghost of a second rate comedian.
“So, what would you like to know, Samuel?” Peter still overemphasizing his name. Samuel found himself attempting to ignore this maddening specter’s childish nature. Did this man knowingly heckle, or was he simply daft enough to think that they were having a good time? He didn’t know for sure, but he wished Peter to get to the point already.
“I already asked my first question, friend.” Samuel replied.
“Oh, so you did. Why you can’t see me, of course. Well, to tell it to you simple and true, it all comes down to faith, Samuel, cold…hard…faith.”
He thought about what Peter said for a bit, “When ever on God’s green earth has faith ever directly affected perception?” Samuel thought this was moving swiftly toward the corner of nowhere and fast. All this man had to say were useless quips and empty gibberish, and one thing that Samuel knew for sure was that he had grown quite impatient in his old age.
“Ah, but you kicked the old proverbial bucket if you do remember. Ain’t exactly on God’s green earth anymore. Normal rules don’t apply here, or rather things ain’t exactly held to those rules as strictly as they are back there.” Samuel felt relief that progress was at last being made, somewhere along this conversation’s track, like the train’s momentum, surely there might just be a destination, and understanding, he hoped.
Peter continued, “What gravity is to the mortal world, faith is to this one, that’ll be the closest I can get to a comparison of importance between that existence and this one. You have to be willing to accept the things you see, or can’t see as truth, the latter much more than the former. Truth that’s out of your hands, and trust that you aren’t being misled. For some, this’ll always be the hardest lesson to learn once they make the change. But, as mother used to say, ‘believe in the grace of god, for he won’t lead you astray’. In your case, and for your sake, you’d do best to understand, this is the most important lesson you’ll learn here. Anyway, I’m here, laddie, right in front of you, but you got to trust I’m really here.”
“So I’m to put my faith in you, a man who spouts nonsense, and chooses to mislead me for the sake of a joke, and this will somehow make you visible? I’m sorry friend, nothing you’re saying makes sense. Faith? Trust? What of fact? Reason? Stop wasting my time, and tell me the damn truth.” Samuel was angry and confused, which he knew made him stubborn. He hadn’t had faith, or trust, in any aspect of his life for the better part of twenty years. These things were foreign to him now, and to be told they were requisite here, made him feel helpless. Whether this man did speak the truth or not, in truth would likely not change his mind right away, anyway.
“Don’t you see?! THAT right there, your perception is part of it, and will continue to be a part of it until you learn. You aren’t held by the limitations of reality any longer, time means nothing, faith, Samuel, faith means everything, it’s what this here beauty runs off of. Her life’s blood.” Peter must have given the paneling of the train a loud, loving smack. Not being able to see him do it, Samuel’s heart gave a quick hot run. “Besides, even if I were all those things you said, ain’t I still here, talking? How hard is it to simply believe in something that’s out of your control, when it’s staring you right in the face? I am by the way, staring you in the face that is.”
“I don—”Samuel began to make his refutation when Peter suddenly spoke up, not quite yelling, it was calmer than that, but with authority, leaving Samuel feeling like a child.
“Enough, Samuel. I wasn’t privy to the type of person you would be, and for that I’m sorry. It’s obvious I should’ve approached things differently.” With that, Samuel’s ghostly companion came into full view, looking like morning mist collecting into the shape of a man, and then made solid, tangible. Peter was much younger than Samuel had thought he would be, late thirties from the look of him, five foot nine, stout, with black shaggy hair under a cap, and a short beard.
Samuel opened his mouth to continue his protest to all of the smoke and mirrors if his host could have simply shown himself in the first place. Peter caught wind of Samuel’s mounting frustration and said, “Consider this an act of good faith, an ever loving olive branch if you will.”
(Photo credit: Patrick Hart, Location: Maui)