Here’s an excerpt from my 4th novel, La Llanta, which is actually a follow up to my first, After Delphi. La Llanta means “The Wheel” in Spanish and it is centered around the son of After Delphi’s main character. In this part of La Llanta, the main character is succumbing to the pressures of a few things simultaneously: a modern plague that he feels responsible, his girlfriend’s strange addiction and other issues with his father:
YP felt truly defeated. Defeated and confused and utterly unsure of his conspirators and his foes, but feeling fairly certain that the latter greatly outnumbered the former. Thoughts of Leticia came and went. When they came he only saw the part of her that had so quickly faded. He wanted only to sleep, but even this decision gave him alloyed feelings. Yes, there he might see her angelic form again, untouched by the evils that had drawn her in and he might once again bathe in the soft beauty that so easily had radiated from her soul.
On the other hand, he might have those nightmares again where people – everyone – are screaming at him with burning lungs, eyes wide open and throats straining so much as to appear about to burst from the skin and tendons that only so precariously contained them, but not the sound. In those dreams he would hold his ears, close his eyes and cry. He had mostly had those nightmares as a child in times of a bad fever. But for some reason, now, he feared the reemergence of whatever force unleashed itself during those terrifying times.
He didn’t feel well. YP was scared of what lay around the corner for him, literally and figuratively. There was such pressure that he had never felt before. He had not only allowed his beautiful Leticia to succumb to the outer reaches of this plague, but he felt he was letting down society and his father. In truth, there was no basis for this feeling. Nevertheless, YP succumbed to it as easily as Leticia was taken by the call of the future.
Finally, YP was overcome by sleep – a type of sleep that he had never felt before. It was one that bordered on madness, coma, sickness and fear. It was his only form of escape. Yet this time, the escape was worse than that which he was trying to flee.
In a dream during this extended hibernation, YP found himself walking down a tranquil street lined with dormant lights that were visible only by the reflection of the moonlight off of the puddles in the gutter. As he passed them, they blinked on then burned brightly.
Next, he found himself in the attic of his childhood home. He sat looking at the skeletal walls and wooden beams supporting the ceiling at a diagonal. His attention was drawn to the pieces of wall directly to his left and he peered closely, although there was really nothing to observe. He did hear, somewhere on the floors below, some activity and this made him a bit nervous as the activity below gave him feelings of negativity. He felt the voices building – the voices whose evil screams would soon be directed at him.
But then the wall drew his attention again, for it was changing right before his eyes. Unable to believe what was happening, he stared, bug-eyed at the nails that banged themselves in with only the sound of the friction produced by the metal rubbing on the tiny fibers of wood. Nail by nail he watched the pieces come together seemingly by an invisible hand whose only intent was the construction of the wall – like a quiet force with a strong purpose.
YP was intimidated and no longer heard the voices below. He thought that maybe he was witnessing the future forming before his eyes. That maybe he was receiving some kind of sign. At that moment, he noticed out of his peripheral vision movement above him. And he saw near the ceiling a cloud-like substance, blue in color, that fumbled about itself, rolling slowly, its outer portions dispersing in stratus-like licks that disappeared once they roamed too far from the center, which grew in density not rapidly but at a steady rate.
YP immediately recognized this, subconsciously, as the creator – of existence, Truth and the Universtance. He was bewildered and taken aback by the vision of reverence personified. It was beautiful, this simple blue cloud. But it made everything better. It brought calmness and certainty. Softness with firmness. Care with the stern forbiddance of the voice below that opposed it. It drew him within, churning and brewing fantastically.
He didn’t know how long he sat in that bare attic looking at the blue god, but when he finally pulled his glance away, the walls were no longer bare. In fact, he was no longer in the attic at all, but on a long winding staircase that dangled between multi-tiered floors, like in a large hotel, each topped with Japanese style roofing. He felt as if he was in the middle of a large dollhouse or temple, but it was still dark and hard to view details. He looked for the blue cloud but no longer could see it anywhere.
YP looked below the suspended staircase and saw what appeared to be a very beautiful and carefully maintained garden. It was then that he realized just how precarious his position was on the dangerously swaying stairway that lined from one far corner of the temple, diagonally, to the other.
He saw, or felt, dark shadowy characters running by him, some brushing by him, others just stirring up the air around him. Their footsteps echoed in the large open chamber in the courtyard of the temple.
Growing fearful of the dark, the characters, the stairway, YP began to run. He didn’t know where to, but he needed to feel as though he could escape whatever it was that threatened him and running gave him that perception as far from Truth as it might be.
In his mind he imagined himself in the cellar of the temple, strewn with dust and dingy from neglect and the uninspired passage of time. There were more wooden beams at odd angles and in odd locations as if they were randomly placed and nailed into place for some reason. Some formed little compartments that looked as if they might hold bottles of wine, but upon inspection only held cobwebs and more dust – and something that pulsed at the bottom of it.
It was his father, who had grabbed hold of him on the winding stairway, capturing him and bringing him to a halt.
YP could only stare into his father’s eyes screaming, “Who are you? Who!”
Pontius, not letting up on his grasp of his son said, “Wake up. Wake up YP!”
“Oh my god! I’ve seen some incredibly strange things in this temple father!”
Then he burst past Pontius with a rush of paranoia.
And he found himself suddenly outside. The stairway, multiple hotel floors were gone, the shadowy figures nowhere, the temple, removed instantly from above his head.
There was a wooded area, thick coniferous brush everywhere that licked at his face and the back of his neck. YP felt that there was a wolf or a similar type of animal that lurked nearby waiting for just the right moment to pounce on him and rip him open.
YP was looking for something. He didn’t know what, and didn’t really know how he knew that he was looking for something. Perhaps a house in the distance. Yes, a house with a winding river. A Trail that would lead him beside this house, this little mill house.
There’s the trail.
It was of a fine, powdery type of white stone that winded through the branches that still poked outward at him, reaching for just a taste of his skin. But as the trail opened up and sloped downward the brush no longer posed a threat. In the distance he thought he saw the figure of a house. Yes, there was the wheel that turned. Except it wasn’t turning. It was supposed to turn – but the water that turned it wasn’t there. The trail didn’t lead to any entrance of the mill house. It lead beneath the mill. He wasn’t walking on a trail, but a dried riverbed.
His head spun and he felt the imagery withdrawing as he spun away, only to find himself once again within the odd temple. Again, he marveled at its beauty – the ambiance, the fine care that emanated from the multiple tiers of doors, windows, walkways, one after another. It was so beautiful, was all he could think.
Still, he struggled to see in the darkness. There were no more figures around him and his father was not around, although YP did get the sense that there was other family around him.
Still nothing. This was not close family, but distant, disparate family that didn’t know him well. In fact, they didn’t know him at all. Most of them slept within the doors that lined far left and right and way up and down.
YP stood on the swaying, winding stairway, alone. But he was no longer scared. He felt a festive atmosphere within the temple now, as if he was on a midnight trek through a house after a party had wound down and all of the guests had settled into a careful slumber – the kind you can only have in a bed other than your own.
As he looked up he thought he saw, again, the blue cloud and he imagined that it was smiling down on him. He smiled back at it and waved, then felt silly.
Only then did he truly wonder where the hell he was? Was he dreaming? Hallucinating? Seeing things or effects of the plague? He definitely knew that he didn’t know.
Suddenly the many windows of the compartments began to shatter one by one as if being kicked out from within. The shards of glass flew outward, just missing him, falling at his feet. All he could imagine was that he was going to have to repair, by hand, each and every one of those windows.
With that thought, he fell into the pattern of childhood thoughts that had been the foundation and breeding grounds of his compulsive behavior. It was maddening. Maddening and without borders. There he was, on the floor of his childhood bathroom floor. The tiled walls towered above him and YP imagined that he had just completed placing the last one only to notice that one at the very bottom was crooked or cracked or otherwise needed replacement. To fix this bottom one he would need to remove all of the tiles, in what was sure to be a maddening task, one that would require undoing all that he had done and then redoing it once again, trying to get it right. The time, the effort, the careful placements would all need to be…done…again.
He could only cry, holding his head, and wish that there was someone that could help him with this task that lingered, hovered over him with immense intimidation – such intimidation that he doubted he could ever finish.
YP yearned for the lights that flickered and dissipated with his passing. That’s what used to happen when he walked down the street. The lightness and goodness in his essence, in the truth of his soul, would fool the sensors that governed the functioning of the lights. And they would turn off. Now, the lights sometimes went on, as if the abyss of darkness welling up within him was fooling the sensors in the exact opposite way. That the lights were trying to fill a void building within his soul, eaten away by the negativity that surrounded him.
He didn’t want to succumb but he felt he had no choice. He felt he couldn’t avoid it.