Thursday, November 3, 2011

193/365 --Playlist Story-- inspired by "42" by Coldplay

The lawyers of the defendant, a pharmaceutical company that had interests in seventeen countries, surrounded Imogen in the courthouse women's lavatory. One of them snickered at her disheveled appearance and the obvious fear on her face.

"Drop the suit," said another, in a low, raspy voice. He lit a cigarette, and looked every inch a ratlike version of the Marlboro Man. He sucked up steadily on the cigarette until the cherry glowed almost white, eating up three or four centimeters tobacco. He flicked the ash to Imogen's shirtfront, then blew an unnervingly precise stream of smoke into her face. She cringed and looked away. "You'll never win anyway," he continued, his voice a dark cello, "but you could save some face for your clients."

"Never," said Imogen meekly, coughing.

"Fine," said another lawyer, her eyes slits, her mouth two thin strips of taut red. "We curse you."

"We curse you," said all the opposing lawyers together, baring their brightly white teeth.

"You will live with your clients forever," said the smoking lawyer, before rubbing his cigarette into the tile on the wall right next to Imogen's hair. He leaned forward, millimeters from her skin, and sniffed deeply. "Stupid hippie," he said acidly.

"They're dead..." whispered Imogen, trembling.

"Of course they are," he said, grinning. He pushed away from the wall, winked at Imogen, and he and the other lawyers sauntered out of the lavatory.

When they were gone Imogen started panting rapidly. She ran to the sink and dry-heaved, shaking.

"We'd like to thank you," said a small voice.

Imogen spun around, then ducked down and looked for feet under the stalls. There was no one in the room. She stood up and looked in the mirror, then screamed, stumbling back. On the other side of the mirror there were thousands of faces peering back at her. She turned around again, in the echoing emptiness of the lavatory.

"Don't be frightened," said the faces in unison, equally concerned, their mouths moving in precise synchrony.

"How can--"

"We were nowhere, but now we are with you," they said.

"Who are you, what?"

"We died," they said. "You were the only one who noticed. Who cared. Who fought for us."

"You mean, they actually...cursed me?"

"It would be a curse to them to have a thousand faces inside them. Is it to you?"

"I...I don't know."

Imogen touched the glass, feeling it's hardness, coldness, solidity.

"I will still fight for you. I will still fight this case," said Imogen.

"You won't win," they said.

"Maybe that doesn't matter," she said, closing her eyes and trying to steady the cadence of her breath.

"Thank you," they said. "A hundred thousand times thank you."

Imogen nodded, then straightened her clothes and strode out into the hallway, her teeth gritted and her hands in tense fists.

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