Mr. Dan Stewart had been alone for so long, no one knew if he still existed or not. Actually, no one cared for Dan. Everyone he knew, and loved, were long gone. He realized that it was not long, till it was his turn, to make his way, through the aftermath of life.
His face carried the entire tale of his years. On his rather large head grew short grizzled hair and he had just completed shaving off remnants of his hoary moustache. His cheekbones gave his face a harsh character; but there was no harshness in his eyes, which looking at the world, under their snowy eyebrows giving the impression of a man ever alert to greet a redeeming proclivity in others.
Mr. Stewart resided in a small flat on the ground floor in the middle of a North London council estate. Everything in his flat was meticulously arranged and he tried to keep it as tidy as possible. The walls were full of paintings by distinguished artists and pictures of his loved ones; each one framed with a border full of engravings of blossoming gold roses.
He had himself bought every article of furniture in his room: two single wooden beds with two thick olive chequered blankets and a small white pillow at the top of each bed. The beds were placed beside a plain rectangular window with a calendar below it, displaying the date as “4th July 2012”. The window overlooked the rest of the foul looking estate. There was also a clothes rack, a small black bookshelf, which was made of plastic but made to look like wood.
It was full of his long novels and historical books, and they were arranged from below upwards according to bulk size. In the corner of the room lay his small white desk, with a matching chair, and on the desk was his all-important bible. Mr. Stewart was quite a religious protestant Christian, but he never attended Church. He believed that god was omnipotent, and there was no need to go to church, and that one could pray within the comfort of their own home, as long as they were faithful to the Almighty.
However, one evening, instead of indulging into another one of the numerous novels found in his timber bookshelf, he found himself standing in front of his bedroom window, watching a gardener hard at work on the small pitch in the middle of the estate. The cherry faced sweating gardener was struggling to save the parched trees shedding their dehydrated leaves, and the yellow grass dying in their masses before his eyes; as outside the red hot day of July had descended upon London and the intense rush of heat circulated the streets, devastating all in its path. The planet was warming up at a rapid rate, and no one seemed to consider decelerating the pace at which the earth was being swiftly ruined.
Dan began to chuckle. Not at the gardener, but at the world. The world, which had made him so cheerful and eventually so miserable. To Dan, the world brought illusory hopes and empty pleasures. Dan’s belief was that God made people to govern the world, but the people, instead of governing it attentively, the people were manipulating it, much against the wishes of God.
The consequences of senescence mixed with the exclusion from the world had acquired his body and produced the livid emotion he was feeling now. There was no doubt about it, he could sense it; he could feel his body scorching the same way his heart had been pierced and melted not so long ago.
However, his emotions could not explain to him the intangible sentiment surrounding his own room; his own small world, independent of the reality around him. He could feel some kind of ethereal presence in the room, but he could not pinpoint where it was. He started to sweat and his eyes began to blur his surroundings. He lied down on the bed and tried to gather his thoughts together. His thoughts were jumbled. It was as if an alien force had entered his mind and changed the way he contemplated. He couldn’t control his brain, or his fear; the fear that something was about to engulf him.
Before he could arise to catch himself falling into the power of the captivating force weakening him, his eyelids were drawn shut and the black curtains drew themselves maliciously, introducing a melancholy shadow of darkness and chill into the small possessed room.
He woke up, rubbing his sore eyes. It was dark, and something was calling him,
“Danny! Danny! Danny!” He recognised the voice, but couldn’t comprehend how he was hearing it. The surroundings brightened again, as if right on cue.
This was a complete contrast to his dark crowded room; he believed he was supposed to be in. There she was, at exactly the same place where they both met for the first time. Standing in front of him was a tall women, her face was lovely, fair with a soft white complexion and pink cheeks. Her hair shone of lustrous gold and her sapphire eyes glimmered at the sunshine glowing directly at her.
“Susan,” he called out, “Susan!” He stood there gazing at her, waiting for the reply he had wanted with all his compassion.
She smiled at Dan’s direction, but strangely she wasn’t looking at him. “Susan?” and with that she instantaneously vanished. This couldn’t happen again to him. He had yearned for this impossible moment for so long, whether it was in a dream or in his afterlife, to recall her angelic voice, her delightful face, her remarkable splendour.
He tried to run where she was previously situated, but before he could initiate a signal in his brain to start moving, he was back in the comfort of his dull flat. He looked at the bed beside him and looked at the picture above it. There was Susan smiling, with him beside her, at that exact spot he was at in his dream.
It had all been a dream. His life was built on the possibilities of dreams. But that dream in particular seemed so real. But, the dejection he felt afterwards was real, as well, and he had felt it many times before. Oh, how he wished he could turn back the clock and relive those unforgettable enjoyable moments with her.
As he was about to recall his eventful past and imagine his future, a figure stepped in through the door. He already had been burgled twice before, but now he had a new strong lock fitted, which would only answer to Dan’s well-crafted key. He looked up at the figure and recognised the hat, coat and trousers and as soon as he saw the man’s face, he was astonished; it was himself.
Dan couldn’t believe his eyes, or the other person’s either! The replica was the younger and evidently fitter Dan. He was much slimmer, had brown hair, but everything else was the same. He walked in, and totally ignored the real Dan lying dumbstruck on his bed, and collapsed into the bed beside him and started to cry.
Dan’s mind was in a state of denial and assurance at the same time. The world that was presented to him appeared so genuine, yet the figure slumped beside him was inconceivable. None of his experiences or books had taught him how to handle this strange encounter. Inquisitive questions developed in his head, to which he had no answers.
His brain lost its ability to cogitate rationally. He could feel himself drowning under the concentrated stream of sweat corroding his inanimate body. He had to get out. He had to escape the subversive force occupying his small-congested room and succeeding in bringing back the torment and suffering, Dan had been able to eliminate, with much of his time and effort.
He ran straight to the door, but it locked itself before he was able to get there. He turned round and faced the window, and saw the date on the calendar.
“5th May 1982?” The date rang a bell in Dan’s already throbbing head. It was another one of those memorable days he was unlikely to forget. It was the day, which initiated his subsequent anguish and mourning. It was the day after the Susan had taken her last breath of the air.
When she made her way to the heavens beyond the universe, Dan was all alone.
No one had come to his aid, in the time of isolation and sorrow he had to suffer. Actually, instead of letting him rebuild his life, the world seemed to dismantle his foundations. He couldn’t walk through his estate without either getting verbally abused or physically attacked by the young rowdy brats, who appeared to have more control over the estate than the council. He couldn’t turn a corner without seeing an incessant abundance of syringes piled in the alleyway near the estate entrance.
Dan sincerely tried hard to lead a normal life after Susan, in the hope that things would get better. But they never did. Susan was the last of his family and friends, after everyone he knew passed away. The people in the world were making it harder for Dan, and because of them, he was left forlorn with nothing substantial other than his trusted Bible.
He was a shadow of his former self. When he was young, Dan always longed to see the next day. To experience the perpetual beauty of the world. The progression of each day, kept Dan enthusiastic and ecstatic as it brought new challenges and fresh adventures. But as the future progressed more and more, and he entered his later years, he started to experience the huge losses of the things he had gained throughout his life. He thought it was due to the earth’s beauty being exploited further and further to the point, where the world’s future was at the point of degeneration.
Dan sighed and watched his younger duplicate fall into a melancholy sleep on Susan’s bed. He walked over to his own bed and look out of the then new window. The sun was setting in the distance amidst the crimson sky. He got into his own bed, underneath the olive chequered blanket, and having seen the main times of his life displayed before his eyes, he dozed off for the last time in the world, but his voyage into the undiscovered was just beginning.