ISSUE 24 June 2016
An independent magazine aimed at bringing the works of the young and talented to the whole world.
You WILL be rewarded a copy of Garde Magazine Anniversary Issue!
An independent magazine aimed at bringing the works of the young and talented to the whole world. Believing in ideas, thoughts and concepts, Garde Magazine follows the principle of simplicity and honesty.
FOUNDERS Cleo Tse Natasha Chan
CONTRIBUTORS David Madsen
Kalle Ă–stgĂĽrd ODKST
Garde Magazine proudly supports
Justine Wong Illustration Conveying culture through colour
Vaan Ip Fine Arts Art gives me a pair of wings
CONTENT David Madsen
Why everyone loves Mad Max: Fury Road and so do you
KURO EX MACHINA CHAPTER TWELVE
JUSTINE WONG illustration
Conveying culture through colour
Always passionate about the arts, Justine Wong never planned to fall in love with illustrating. Initially, she studied Graphic Design at university but then switched to illustration. However, this act alone did not fully convert her into a committed illustrator until she quit her full-time job and left for Japan. Just by glancing at her work, anyone can tell she has fallen deeply and madly in love with illustrating culture. Justine says her experience in Canada and Japan affected her creations. “Perhaps more Toronto than Tokyo, but that will likely change with my move to Tokyo this summer,” she said. Driven by challenges, Justine is a person who will grab any opportunity that comes her way and once she sets her mind on something she will go for it. “I have been brought up knowing that everything and anything was possible if you wished to pursue it,” she said. Speaking about her work, Justine said she is naturally influenced by Japanese animation. “Much of my illustrations are observational and reinterpretations - they carry with it a spirit from another world,” she said. It is also very noticeable that
Justine Wong - Cat Cafe, Kyoto 21 Days in Japan: An Illustrative Study of Japanese Cuisine
Justine Wong - Kyoto Breakfast 21 Days in Japan: An Illustrative Study of Japanese Cuisine
Justine Wong - Kyoto Breakfast 21 Days in Japan: An Illustrative Study of Japanese Cuisine
Justine’s works mainly revolve around food. “I painted my first food subject a year ago because of my project and it has kind of gone out of control,” she said. “I loved the act of documentation, but photography alone was not doing it for me. I like to think of food as not a subject, but a tool for conversation. It is so universal. I like to think that I am painting a story or a conversation rather than just documenting the food itself,” she added. “The food culture in Japan is just so rich in tradition that it grounds me in the way I think of food.” Justine said she trusts her gut feeling when deciding what subjects to capture and produce into a painting. When she participated in a project to document Japanese meals she said, “I always had to keep in mind to balance my meals for my Kickstarter. That helped me focus on variety. It helped me to decide on what to eat next, and what I needed to seek out.”
Her main medium in her work is watercolour. “I chose watercolour because
Justine Wong - Ramen Stall, Tokyo 21 Days in Japan: An Illustrative Study of Japanese Cuisine
it speaks the same language as I do,” she said. “Visually it does what I need it to, and I understand and respect its properties. I have also started to work digitally as well, but I enjoy and need the tactility that a traditional medium like watercolour provides.” In her illustration projects, Justine says the most difficult element to capture is the mood and experience. “I felt so many different ways while travelling through Japan and have so many stories to tell. Sometimes that is hard to deliver through an illustration,” she said. “So I love when people ask me about a particular dish.” In the future, Justine is looking forward to producing an illustrated book. “My next step is to work myself into the international market,” she said. She also added that her dream project was to do illustrations for food packaging in Japan. Justine’s ultimate goal as a creator is to “never forget how to create,” she said. “I feel that it is important to remember to keep finding new eyes.”
Justine Wong - Bread Truck, Kamakura 21 Days in Japan: An Illustrative Study of Japanese Cuisine
Vaan Ip Fine Art
Art gives me a pair of wings
Having picked up painting at a young age, Vaan Ip always had a passion for creativity. His path started with comics, sketching and slowly developed into oil painting. His original choice of study was in computers but he came to the conclusion that he did not want to spend his life in front of a screen. Instead, he studied Fine Art. Upon graduating from this degree, Vaan has tried to create art on a full-time basis yet admits it is too difficult to maintain basic living expenses. He even lived a year without gaining solid income. He went to an Italian restaurant and took a job as a chef to earn his living. Vaan said the two years spent in the kitchen were very exhausting as long working hours simply drains one’s energy. Yet the tables have turned for him and now he is happy to say that he is able to live on his creations and that he can create on a full-time basis. Still hardworking as ever, Vaan works seven days a week from 9am to the evening in his studio. He thinks this is the best way to keep him in the best state to create art. City in a cage The relationship between humans and city is Vaan’s focus in his work. As a creator who started from painting, his works are all intensive buildings in cities to express his feeling living in one of them. He suggests that living in a city is similar to being stuck in a cage. Concrete jungle and artificial construction are frequently seen in his works – all feelings of being caged.
Vaan Ip - Lost City - 41 The creation of architecture is an image of the city. We live in this city, which is full of rapidity and complexity; we work hard each day to earn a living.The road in front of us is hard to catch up with, We are just numb to survive. People unwittingly to find meaning of life. Everyone has a dream; Let us get away from the busy crowded cities, there is hint of gap through the sky, let’s pry into our forgotten dream. Do not let the life bury the dreams!
Vaan Ip - Lost City - 40
Vaan Ip - Lost City - 40
Apart from 2D creativity, Vaan also does sculpture. The reason why he started sculpture was for using 3D medium to showcase his cities. The result wasn’t only interesting but also had multi-effects. Since light was added into his work, light from the inside of the sculpture formed shadows on walls surrounding the audience and strengthening the feeling of being trapped and that people cannot escape the city. As for materials, Vaan has tried brass, stainless steel and carbon steel. Other than the interchange between 2D and 3D, he also enjoys the change between different raw materials. Led by dreams and flying out from the trap Other than the symbol of buildings in the form of cages, there are also flying kites connected to the city in Vaan’s works. These symbolise a beacon. The idea is that when the audience looks at kites, they may be reminded of their own dreams and be encouraged to fly out of the cage. The development of Vaan’s works has always been changing simultaneously with his thoughts: it starts with pessimistic oil paintings to optimistic kites that symbolize dreams which lead to a falling city. Vaan thinks that dreams can move a city forward: when everyone is looking for a dream and pursuing further, society will evolve eventually.
(On the next page) Vaan Ip - Lost City - 40
As a creator who likes to follow his thoughts, Vaan thinks that what makes an artist important is communication and the exchange of thoughts with artwork to make it experience changes.
(One the right) Vaan Ip - Lost City - 2
movie review Why everyone loves Mad Max: Fury Road and so do you by david madsen
“Simply put, Mad Max: Fury road is the best thing to happen to the action genre since Terminator 2: Judgment Day.”
There’s a good chance you have heard of the Mad Max series through cultural osmosis. While the original trilogy has their cult following, in particular the second film, Mad Max 2: Road Warrior, these rough looking, single minded, post apocalyptic car chase films aren’t really remembered for anything else than introducing the world to Mel Gibson and the general vibe of the post apocalypse as a place for BDSM outfits and makeshift cars. More than 30 years later, the director of the original trilogy, George Miller, has returned to the series in this sort of reboot-sort of sequel to Mad Max 3: Beyond Thunderdome, Mad Max: Fury Road from 2015. If you by some happenstance have yet to see this master crafted piece of cinema the plot is as simple as they come. The film takes place in the same post apocalyptic wasteland of the Aussie outback of the original trilogy and follows Imperator Furiosa, a truckdriver, for a particularly nasty despot king, Immortan Joe, who holds a firm grip over the entire region by having complete control over
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), Village Roadshow Pictures Directed by George Miller. Overmental.com
every vital resource from water to gas to ammunition. When she decides to betray Joe by freeing his imprisoned wives and smuggling them out of harm’s way in her massive fuel tanker (appropriately called The War Rig) he responds swiftly by sending an entire army of cancer ridden, martyr driven War Boys out to get them back. And so the film is a two hour extended chase sequence in which Furiosa fights off everyone and everything from roaming marauders, the aforementioned Immortan Joe and his War Boys, a giant sandstorm and a particularly devious swamp area. Along the way the supposed protagonist of the film, ‘Mad’ Max Rockatansky is forced more or less by circumstance to tag along with Furiosa and Joe’s run-away brides.
makes them tag along by objectifying and suppressing them to roles of society instead of actual people. This is most clear in the introduction to Immortan Joe and his massive dome, a fortress embedded on a cliff side raised far above the starved masses. As he sporadically pours water down to them, he antagonises them, lecturing them how they ‘should not become addicted to water.’ Outside of being a clear analogy and ‘fuck you’ to the capitalist ‘trickle-down-economics,’ it’s a fantastic way to outline Immortan Joe’s villainy. Most films do this by having the antagonist kill someone, often a woman, but by making the threat Joe represents the systematic suppression of hundreds of people exclusively for his benefit, we all-of-a-sudden have a very tangible and relatable idea of just how loathsome he That’s a very spars narrative, is. one that doesn’t really move or change outside of the obligatory mid film This characterisation through plot twist related to the designated action and thematic backdrop carries destination of The War Rig. But were the over to almost all of the main players of film is somewhat ‘lacking’ in an intrinsic the film. Max’s past trauma has rendered plot the film is instead rich in theme. The him into an indecipherable, morally film is a fascinating deconstruction and cold brute only following his basic will criticism of patriarchy and how it hurts to survive. Yet through quick cuts to not only women but basically everyone flashbacks of the people he failed in who isn’t on top. This includes the people the past, the film manages to make his supporting a system that systematically suffering understandable without going
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), Village Roadshow Pictures Directed by George Miller. Cdn.collider.com
into a whole flashback sequence or an And by god could I just sit here origin story. and gush over those action scenes for days on end. Even if the film was without But his arc and relation to its smartly constructed narrative this Furiosa is equally important. Having would still be one of the boldest, most been captured by Immortan Joe’s War spectacular action films made since Boys at the beginning of the film, Max’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day. The film predominant goal really is to just survive has gotten a lot of praise for harkening the ordeals he’s put through and get his back to late 80’s action films, films that ‘stuff,’ namely his car and gear back. were stuffed with fantastic practical But by keeping the wives and Furiosa stunt-and-effect work and lots and lots of company, he comes to appreciate that blood and guts. The car chases and handfighting to survive isn’t worth much if to-hand combat in Fury Road benefit you’re not fighting for something or – greatly from having insane-looking preferably – someone. actual cars going toe to toe with one another. But the CG effect work that is In other words it’s not that on display is absolutely vital to the world the film isn’t interested in telling a building and batshit insane scenarios compelling story, it’s a film that just tells that occur, such as the aforementioned that compelling story through economic chase scene that happens inside a and smart storytelling. Everything that sandstorm. is said, shown or even hinted at in Fury Road matters in a way to make the Besides to say that the film just audience understand the world at large, pays homage to old action classics would the stakes at hand and the characters be to sell it tragically short. There is both those we root for and against. This coherence to each element of the action spars, intelligent way of storytelling does scenes that makes the film feel incredibly mean that the film gets away with both tactile in a way that you rarely get even having a deeply involved narrative and from those aforementioned classics. yet spends most of its running time The stunts are incredible but perhaps showing kick ass action scenes. even more important are the editing, cinematography and sound design.
(O the previous page) Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), Village Roadshow Pictures Directed by George Miller. Themarysue.com
The editing is clearly keyed not only to actions on screen, but to sound cues and the music itself from a gun cocking to the music switching instruments. And that soundtrack. That flippin’ soundtrack. It’s so good and so appropriate. It’s a mix of heavy metal, scratchy sounding electronica and massive drums going buck wild. It’s even personified perfectly in the film by a truck carrying a ‘marching band’ of War Boys on drums and a guy riffing on an electric guitar at the front, which also just happens to be a flamethrower. This music is both exhilarating and serves as a great audile threat to our protagonists as The War Rig multiple times stalls and has to be fixed to the increasingly loud sounds of drums and guitars which accompany Immortan Joe’s warparty.
personal reasons. She seeks redemption, a trait that is almost never allowed for a woman to embody. She’s also not first and foremost characterised through her gender. Even Immortan Joe doesn’t question her legality and authority as a bonafide badass and no one throws transphobic or demeaning comments about her not being a ‘real’ woman. In an early fight scene she beats Max to a pulp with one arm. With such a fury and burning passion it’s hard to find an equal in the genre. Charlize Theron with her cool gaze and takes-no-shit attitude is perfect in the role and her platonic relationship with Max is inspired and done without having to rely on a sudden sparkling romance or sarcastic banter. Both she, Max and Joe know the seriousness of their situation and none of them have time for quips or insults about Furiosas gender. This is why I love this film so much. And now you know why it’s fantastic. Now you know why everyone else loves it and why I know you love it or will love it.
As I said, the film could work just on the back of these scenes, but the true heart of the film, the character that makes this whole thing become something more than ‘just another action film’ is Imperator Furiosa. This robot arm-wearing action heroine has actual agency and isn’t driven by the violence she has endured at the hands of a man, but is instead driven by purely
(O the next page) Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), Village Roadshow Pictures Directed by George Miller. Overmental.com
KURO EX MACHINA by ODKST
CHapter twelve “I saw her laugh, then she said, then she said: Go away, Away” Kore flew harder, through the tunnel, there was light ahead. It had the shape of a boar or pig; he sped towards it; singleminded in his predatory search, lacking his prey, or having, at the very least, lost sight of it. His bird-heart raced, the hollow bones inside his flesh and feathers creaked and whined with exertion. An icy-blue light lured me out of hollow sleep into a sharper sense of consciousness. At first I saw it through shut eyelids, and I could not understand, how such a ghostly light could have found me here, in hospital bed, far away from anything spiritual or even alive: the man behind the veil had died, not long after my arrival. Preferring to think of the light as the fading breath of some lucid dream from which I was ascending, I kept my eyes shut. My bed was soft and warm. I sensed that I had slept for a long time. Finally, I couldn’t resist anymore. I opened
m y eyes. The room lay in darkness, only the cold, icy-blue illumination to my left broke through. I blinked a few times. Then I sat up. The door to the room was slightly ajar. The light came from outside it. I stared for a while, but could discern no physical source. On nights like these, I could not expect to find the ‘shapes’ anywhere around. It was not that they hid in darkness, but that they simply weren’t there. What attracted them, and what didn’t, I could not fully understand, although I had spent many nights speculating on it, alone in this comfy bed. But the shapes remained as inexplanatory as this strange, blue light. I held my breath. The harder I listened, the more without-sound seemed the ice-light. As if it had picked up on my increased attention, and withdrew ever-further its exposed limbs from my senses. But it did not shrink as I stared at it, in the doorway and seeping courteously a few inches into the room: a turquoise, other- or netherworld-light, like a radiant glacier. No longer sleepy, I lifted my legs over the edge of my bed and lowered them towards the floor. It was freezing cold and my feet were bare; I shuddered throughout my entire body. Taking a deep breath, I drew the covers off of me, stood up, and started to approach the doorway. It seemed to get colder the nearer I got to the light, but it was maybe a trick of the brain. I could see my breath in front of me. My steps grew more hesitant the closer to the door I came. I finally stopped, my toes in the edge of the light. In the cold, I lifted one arm from my naked torso with reluctance. I pushed my fingers against the door – it was curiously normal in terms of temperature – and pushed it open. The light was strong, almost blinding. I spent a while trying to peer through it. In the hallway, a few steps from my door, stood a being. It was an
animal-thing of the same icy-blue, standing on all fours, about as big as a small horse. Its dog-like shape was contradicted by its blazing colors, its purple mane that flowed all over its back, and its long, white whiskers that sprung from this mane and seemed to hover in the air. I recognized it, but in my increasingly numb and clothesless state, in the midst of its chilling light, I could not recall from where. The dog-thing looked at me. I looked at it. After a few seconds, it began to turn and walk away, but patiently, only a few steps, then stopping to wait for me. I swallowed. I decided to follow the apparition. Its light was at least something. Something good? That I did not know. But something. Ten steps down the hallway corridor, then a turn right. The creature led me down a narrower hall, darker than the previous. This had no doors or windows. Without the creature, I would have been blind in here. But with its guidance, I was led down a short set of stairs, and further ahead, as the corridor continued in its blue light. I felt distracted; ill at ease; it wasnâ€™t just the cold: there was something I should have thought of. Something obvious, too obvious, that still continued to elude me. Maybe there was something in the food theyâ€™d fed me, or the cords they had stuck into my veins and stomach. I never trusted the doctors. We finally arrived at a door. This was the end of the line for the corridor. My animal-guide quietly nudged the doorknob with its muzzle; imploring me to open. I looked at the door. It was just a regular door, with a small, frosted window. I could not see through it.
I opened the door. The dog went through first, eagerly, it seemed.
We were now outside. It was day-time. I was expecting to find a city, since we had been in hospital. But we seemed to be far away from any civilization.
There was a great lake in front of us, spanning almost to the horizon; beyond it two great mountains rose, the left one somewhat higher than the right. The ice-blue dog walked out and onto the surface of the lake. It did not surprise me to see it walk on water. I watched it go, keep going, keep going, at a steady but unhurried pace. It stopped, finally, and turned to look at me. I think it wanted me to follow. But I stood. The landscape around us lay quiet. I kept standing at the edge of the lake, looking only at the dog, which faced me, its four paws against the peaceful surface of the lake, its mirror image waiting underneath it, perfect in the crystal-clear water. I did not know if there were birds around; I saw no people. All I could do was stare back at the dog-spirit, stare back at it and do nothing. I woke up. The hospital room was not as dark as in the dream. Morning light was falling in through the windows that I knew existed, behind the veil on my right. As always, the old man was asleep. I could hear him struggle to breathe. It was sickening. I had opened my eyes immediately. This dream always prompted this action. Looking up at the ceiling, I slothed under the covers. No-one expected anything of me here. So I slothed. Soon, they would bring me breakfast, toast and coffee. I was feeling pretty hungry. I did not have to take a look around to see that the ‘shapes’ were gone. They hardly ever showed up anymore. Why? I wouldn’t say I missed them. But in this boring, cell-like room, where my only company was a sick and dying old man whose face I never even saw, any company was welcome. The door opened. It had been firmly shut during the night, as it always was. As it always was. Somehow, this never occurred to me in the recurring dream. The door was always shut.
I looked up, expecting to see nurses. Instead, a man entered, all by himself. It was a distinguished, yet for some reason suspicious-looking, gentleman. He was well put together, but seemed untrustworthy. It wasn’t the grey hair or the clothes. Or his portfolio. Not his walk, or how he smiled professionally at me as he entered. I curled up, somewhat, in bed. Who was this new menace?
“David?” the man said gently, approaching me. “My name is Richard.”
He offered his hand. I shook it. “Pleased to meet you,” I said.
He pulled a chair up on my left and sat down. For a while, he sat and observed me. It was a not wholly indifferent look; cunning but distant. I refused to speak first. “I suppose you don’t know who I am,” Richard said. “I’m a lawyer. I’m here to help you.”
“You have nothing to worry about. We all know you did nothing wrong. My job is to help them understand this fact.”
“But … “
I went silent.
“But this is a hospital, not a jail,” I blurted out. For some reason, it had sounded less stupid in my head.
“Same difference,” the lawyer said absently, shuffling through papers.
“They have you here now. ‘For your protection.’ But that is not for me to judge. What I would like from you is simply that you answer a few questions. That alright with you?”
He smiled his subtly unreliable smile again. From his stack of papers, he produced a sheet that must’ve been some sort of questionnaire. He asked many questions, and I answered them. They were not particularly personal questions. I had no problem answering them. But I wondered what use he could possibly have for answers to these questions. Some were of the sort ‘what’s your favorite color?’ or ‘how old were you the first time you rode a bike?’ However strange the questions got, though, he seemed happy with my replies. I never felt more than a passing urge to distrust him. When we were finished I was starving. The questioning had taken at least an hour. Feeling it impolite to ask when breakfast was being served, I instead opted to ask: “So what do you plan to do with the information I have given you?” The lawyer, Richard, bunched his papers together, stuck them in the portfolio and closed it. He looked up at me and smiled again. There was a mischievousness in that strange, practiced smile. Like he enjoyed even the most routinely parts of his profession. “I really can’t tell you at this moment. We’re going to need it to determine some facts about you.”
“Well. Whether you are insane or not, of course.”
“Insane?” “Yeah. Don’t worry about it. To me, if I can be straight with you, the answer is clear. You’re not insane at all. Not one bit of crazy.”
I stared dumbly.
“No.” he shook his head. “You’re a goddam liar – that much I know. But not insane.”
It was reassuring to hear.
Richard arose from his chair. “This is where I leave you in more capable hands,” he said. He walked out. I followed him with my gaze until he had gone outside. The door closed.
I was getting rather full on my diet of perfect strangers.
For a moment, all was still. I did not hear the man behind the veil. Then the door opened again, and a nurse came in. She smiled, with real compassion, I thought.
“How are we today, Mr. Berenson?”
“Fine,” I said. I did not recognize this nurse. She was European-Indian to her looks, wearing a white nurse’s hat, which seemed old-fashioned, out of style. She was pretty, but not stunningly so. She approached the bed on high
At this point, nothing surprised me. May as well go with it.
The nurse checked some stats from a chart that sat on the wall on my left. She was herself holding more stats, on a clipboard that she carried under her left arm.
“Who was that man?” I asked her.
She did not seem to know what I meant.
“There was a man here … a lawyer,” I tried, feeling unsure of myself.
Her eyes lit up. “Oh! You mean Mr. Gere. He’s good, isn’t he?”
“Sure.” Sensing my confusion, she continued: “It’s standard procedure, Mr. Berenson. All inmates are assigned a lawyer.”
“I’ve been instructed that you’re free to go,” she went on. “All you have to do is sign this.” She held out her clipboard. It was, apparently, some sort of form or contract, not a chart of statistics. I blinked at it, but it was hard to focus on the text. She gave me a pencil, and I took it. Why not? I signed the form and she pulled it back under her arm.
I tried to give her the pencil.
“You can keep that, if you’d like.”
She smiled at me again. Keeping quiet, I watched her turn and leave the room. She left the door slightly ajar, like it had been in my dream. I didn’t care to speculate any longer. Putting the pencil on my pillow, I left the bed, slipped out of my hospital gown and went to the wardrobe, where I pulled out my clothes. I dressed, went back for the pencil, stuck it in my shirt pocket, and headed for the hallway. There was no-one outside. The hallway was bright and clean. I could see nurses working behind a glass window on the left, but they paid no attention to me, and I could not see the one that had given me the form. I started heading for the exit, following the signs, but then I hesitated. I bit my lip and turned back, walking down the hallway, towards the place where I had been led in my dream. Where the narrow, dark corridor had been, on the right side of the hallway, there was a door; I opened it to find a small closet. It was a broom closet, full of cleaning products, and, as it should be, a large broom. I looked at it. It was an old-fashioned broom, a simple construction consisting of a long wooden pole, and bristles of straw. Then I saw that there was something attached to the broom-handle. I leaned closer, hoping that what I was doing was not suspicious. On the wooden pole sat a post-it note. A tiny message was written there; in the dusk of the broom-closet, I had to squint to read it. How is a raven like a writing desk?
I read it, then I tore the post-it off of the broom handle, putting it next
to my new pencil in my shirt pocket. Feeling manipulated and out of control, I stepped out of the small closet and headed for the exit. The air outside was cold, but fresh. It gave me a certain peace to be outside. I donâ€™t like hospitals. People were moving about. Cars were passing by. There was a small bus-stop nearby; I looked for a purple bus, but they were all grey. The overcast day was neither obligating nor repellent. It seemed a matter of indifference what I did next. I wondered what Dawn was up to, and felt a distant desire to talk to her about the strange things I had seen. But it could wait. I was no longer hungry. In fact, I was more inclined towards a beer. Strange. I usually donâ€™t drink. Beer was kind of nasty â€“ I had never learned to enjoy it. But right now, I wanted a beer. I went down the sidewalk, heading for downtown. I knew there were many pubs, although I did not feel familiar with any of them. As I walked, I started to whistle. This, as well, surprised me. It was not a habit of mine. I whistled, looked at the cars and the buildings, and found my gaze wandering towards the sky. Under the grey clouds, birds were circling: pigeons and gulls. But at the centre of it all, there was an outsider: some sort of predatory bird; a hawk or falcon. I fixed my gaze on it as it circled, high up there, watching the city. My whistling grew more confident. Kore/Kuro The city. The canals. The strange, kind of-wonky houses, that seemed to lean against each other. I took it all in with one eye, the other watching the skies. There were other birds, but no real enemies.
My feathers ruffled. There was wind, and warm, buoyant thermals. Flying was a breeze. Pardon the pun. But I could not remain over the city. Something lured me in another direction. Something undefined, pulling me. It was not in heart to disobey. I turned eastward, soaring past pigeons and clueless gulls. Rats of the sky. Everything was simple. There are no mysteries. Only – maybe – a temporary blindness. A blind spot – the worst thing for a hawk. As well as for an eagle. Whatever. Those were human titles. Just tools of further confusion. They never could agree on anything. Saw complexity, where there was only simplicity. Problems were there was only solution. I flew east. Flapping occasionally, mostly riding the waves. It was hardly even swimming. More floating. As I let the streams of air lead me, the city went away. Out of sight, out of mind. I squinted in the wind. The scavengers cleared out. The sky belonged to me again. Don’t know how long I flew. Got lost. Lost in movement. In tempo. There was no ‘time’. I became one with the air, with my surroundings. This was good. This was correct. Great landscapes underneath. Fields, forests. I saw prey but ignored them. Not now. Then I landed. It came naturally: this was the spot. I folded my wings and dove. A long, deliberate, slow descent. If I’d been aiming for a rabbit or vole, I would’ve surely missed. I saw that I was heading for a forest. Pretty soon, treetops started surrounding me; I circled and braked as best I could. The ground rushed up at me. I landed, rather clumsily, on a log. Now I was in the forest. My heart ill at ease. There were bigger predators here. Bigger than
me. This was not safe. To alleviate stress, I felt myself transforming. I lost feathers and wings. Claws became stubs, useless for killing. My beak softened. Soon I was humanshaped. I jumped off the log and started walking. Still, the same undefined force. Tugging at my heart to come closer. Come a little closer. The forest was silent. Maybe there were drums, somewhere. Underground. Maybe imagination. I grabbed a stick, pointlessly. It was hardly a weapon. Tree after tree unfolded around me. Twigs and needles pierced my feet. I kept walking. What else could I do? It was in the script. Finally it opened. There was a path. It was brighter than the woods, like a summer’s day. A path, and high hedges on both sides. Only the blue sky visible overhead. I walked the path, which turned slightly rightwards. It seemed to have no end. The drums I thought I’d heard in the forest went away. It was quiet again. Feeling in a daze, I walked and walked, watching the hedges slowly slide by around me. My legs, at least, seemed to know where they were going. Then it opened up again. The walls of foliage ended. Ahead was civilization – of some sort, any way. There was a balcony, but no people. It was made of wood, with a wooden roof, on thin poles. I walked further, in under the shade of the sunroof. I realized that I overlooked a racetrack. A crowd was there, far underneath the balcony. There was no way they could have seen me. The race-track was a great oval, sand or gravel or both. But no-one was on it, yet. I rested my hands on the wooden railing. It felt cool to the touch. I was glad to have arrived. Where-ever this was.
For a while I just stood there. It felt good to rest, taking in my new surroundings. Felt good to be … I started. Was I alone? I had assumed I was, but too soon. I searched. On my left, the balcony continued further away. Empty. I looked to my right. There was someone there, in the shade, standing, like me, leaned against the railing. A woman. I looked at her shadowy figure. It seemed to be a very pretty woman, young and slim. Should I say Hello? I did not want to bother her. But I didn’t need to make a decision. Not soon after I’d noticed her, she looked back at me. I could not see her facial expression. For a moment, nothing happened. I felt my heart beating. Then she started towards me. I felt a weird electricity in the air. This was not just anybody. I started to sweat slightly. “Welcome,” she said, once she was right next to me. I said “thank you,” unsure what else to say. We stood for a while, watching the empty tracks. I felt nervous, almost overwhelmed.
“Relax,” she said. “Take a few breaths.”
Gradually, I became more at ease with her presence. I told myself to stop asking so many questions, at least for the moment.
In the shade, I could see more clearly her gold hair and blue eyes. She was, as I’d thought, very pretty. She was about as tall as me, wearing what appeared to be designer clothes, of labels unknown to me. She could tell I was watching her, drinking her in from top to bottom, but was not bothered, as far as I could tell. This was a woman who could make someone do almost anything. I could sense the tremendous power she could have over men – or over anyone, really – if she felt like it.
I asked what her name was.
“Emma-O,” was the answer.
Fair enough. I was not asked for my name, so I said nothing.
We went back to watching.
Soon enough, the gates of a very long starting track began to open. There were great, wooden gates, and they opened the way medieval moatbridges would’ve. It was quite impressive. The beasts entered the track. There were dogs and horses – great, muscular stallions and lean, well-bred hounds, foaming at the mouth and muzzle. But there were also spiders. The spiders were of the same size as the horses, either black or reddish-black, covered in a thick fur, their great jaws gnawing at air, their black eyes gleaming in the sunlight. They were spread out among the horses and dogs like it was nothing. I stared. This was no ordinary racetrack.
A loud bang sounded. I could not make out the source. The participants
were off! They ran, like rockets, spraying gravel and sand in great clouds all around them. It was hard to say what race of animal held the advantage. The spiders had no problem keeping up with the dogs, who were worthy adversaries to the horses. In a great blur of legs and fur and sand, they thundered down the great, oval track. I stared at them. Then I glanced at Emma-O. She was grinning slyly. Not looking at me, but observing the animals. Coolly, I thought. I looked back at the monsters far below. It felt good to be on the balcony. Even the presence of this woman – whatever she was – felt good. For the moment, all I could do was watch. Watch, and enjoy. Then there were fireworks! The first bang made me jump – I had not noticed any rockets rising, yet now they all went off. Explosions in the sky; in any color you could think of – white and yellow, crimson, blue and violet; brilliant-green; orange-sparkling: the sky was filled with color. I stared at the exploding forces overhead, the thunderous sounds of running beasts filling my ears. No, not filling them – there was one other sound, although it took a while to notice. She was laughing: a bright, chiming laugh, as clear as lakewater. Laughing – and that was it. I did not turn to look at her – I didn’t need to. The three things filled my dizzy, shocked perception: three things, and two words, that echoed in my spiraling thoughts, like so many scavenger-birds: Satan wins.
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