The Other Place
(a semi-musical Steampunk Goth hybrid story)
Blog Four: The Winding Stairway
He finds himself now staring through a wispy wall of fog down a winding stairway. In the distance he can see the shadows of buildings. In his head plays the barely audible beckoning sound of harp strings. The scar on his chest begins to move rhythmically. Although he can’t see his hands, he can still feel them. Closing his eyelids, he focuses on the proprioception action of buttoning on his shirt. Next, he puts on his vest and trench coat. He raises his transparent hands before his now open eyes. As an albino he was always told his skin has no colour. Now he wonders if he is truly colourless. Tangible but invisible.
Fully clothed, he starts to walk down the steps. Anger fills him at the thought of being drugged by Lady Elsewhere. When he was younger, he often had to fight to survive. Both his parents have vitiligo, and he knows they were often treated harshly. But no one considered them magical, until he was born. Perhaps that was why, when the traveling Impi warrior, Msizi found them huddled behind a rock on the shores of Victoriara Lake, he took pity on them. Msizi fled his homeland, Zululanderra, after it was conquered and renamed. He was the tallest man Dimoso had ever seen, and his own parents are tall.
As they traveled together towards Tunisiarra, to find a ship to Londonerra, where his parents hoped he would be safe, Msizi taught Dimoso the Bantu language. One day, he saw Msizi standing on a knoll with his assegai spear and cowhide shield, staring into the distance while singing. He walked in front of Msizi, so the warrior would know he was there, and asked, “What is that song?”
“Rage,” the warrior replied in his baritone voice. “Stand beside me and learn it while I watch for enemy and game.”
They say I am weak for not inhaling cohoba
And seeing what is hidden
They say I am weak for not drinking mampoer
To the point of oblivion
But I am stronger than they
For I am always full of rage
It lurks inside waiting to lash out
I am strong for not inhaling or imbibing
Because if I wasn’t
You would be dead
There’s something you don’t understand
Rage doesn’t care about the vessel it uses
Rage doesn’t care who it destroys in its path
Over the half year it took to reach Tunisiarra he learned to read and write from his parents and how to track and fight from Msizi. Only a few times did he see his mentor rage. Msizi warned him ahead of time to stay away. “It is not when I’m shouting angerly but when I go still,” Msizi explained.
He didn’t have that kind of rage inside him thankfully. But he also never wanted to find out. So, he stayed away from laudanum and the underground opium dens that filled the catacombs of Londera.
One step after another, he goes further into this strange place, and as he does, the harp strings beckon to him ever louder.
Lupita Nyong’o’s documentary on albinism:
Dr. Oscar Duke
Steampunk and other art