Snippet of a much larger piece I'm working on. A chinese ghost story in the making
The lone wolf carried on through the bustling Kowloon streets. The Chungking Mansion on Lower Jordan was a popular spot for backpackers and migrant workers because of it’s cheap lodgings.
“You, you, you!” the touts jabbered, swarming him like army ants.
“Me? Me what?”
“You want room?”
“Yes, I would like.”
The Mansion its self was hardly a mansion. Its name could not be more of an irony. It was, in reality, a rundown, hulking monstrosity. A bewildering cultural mishmash, dominated by Indian and Nepali vendors, hawking food, magazines, tailored suits, fake watches, hashish, opium and whatever vices you could imagine.
Up they went through the looming complex, to the 13th floor, following a dingy linoleum-paved corridor, entering another hallway, leading in to a hostel like complex. “Here your room sir,” said his guide. “You call me later if there trouble.”
He was presented with a spartan chamber with just enough room for a bed, shower, and even a high perched TV. What luxuries. With bags unloaded, he curled up for a nap. His sleep began dark and dreamless, tinged with heavy smoke. Soon the visions started again, an open door, a yawning chasm. His line of sight toppled sideways and cracked open, spilling out serpents, dragons, and horned sea-turtles surfing on a primordial soup of black, oily waves.
A few hours later, he awoke with a jolt, ears pricked up and belly rumbling. He sniffed the air, but all he could notice was the spicy mix of chili’s and garlic wafting from the next room over. Nothing alarming about that….
Downstairs, line upon line of workers waited for the ‘mansion’s’single elevator. Pungent and sweaty Nigerians, Sudanese, Congolese and even Mongolian workers queued up. Their day was ending, but his had just begun.
* * *
Again, he awoke. Startled. This time, there was cause for alarm. This time was different. He was fully clothed. There was blood on his fingers, dirt in his nails, and a hot, heavy thickness lined his throat. Hung over, with his head pounding, he went for the shower, washing away the muck and sweat and noticed two long and crusted zigzagging scratches along his sternum. What the hell happened last night?
As he left the hostel, his eyes locked head on, with one of the local workers. A knowing look, an empty stare; a hollowness that chilled him to the bone. The man headed off quickly
The wolf shivered and shuddered inwardly, lost his step and nearly fainted as the previous night’s memories came crashing back, jarring his psyche like
Two sickly looking men. One of them, heavily tattooed, shaven head and Asian. The other, the Nepali (who had just crossed his path), jet black hair, sunken eyes. Both in their mid-twenties, uncannily aged through years of drug use..or was there more…?
“Come smoke with us,” said the decorated one. After a lonely night carousing the after-hours, the offer was more than welcome. The twisting feathered serpent on his neck beckoned. He was led down another maze of corridors until they reached a common area outfitted with molding wooden chairs. The joint was lit. The smoke was taken. From no where, the room was abuzz with the chanting of monks and cicadas.
“Om jae Shiva, Om jae Durga, Maha Kali Maha Kali, Om”
The two men stared through him with that same empty gaze.
More smoke, more blackness.
* * *