The Video Tape - part 6 short story
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The Video Tape – part 2 – Michiel van Laarhoven

The Video Tape – part 2 of 6

By Michiel van Laarhoven

The night was deep, cold and quiet, as if we had gone miles under the surface of the ocean. The old town contained about as much life as a waterless desert, and yet it felt somehow better; it was clearer.

Electra and I slunk through the forgotten streets and alleys that made up our home once.

‘We should go to our old house,’ Electra opted. I felt my insides shrivel.

‘No.’

‘Just pay it a visit, see what’s it like,’ she pushed. I stopped dead in the middle of the road, looking sternly at my sister.

‘No.’

She stopped, too, looking cheekily at me.

‘No? Just no?’

I stared right back at her. My insides seemed to be coiling like a snake under a rock. There was an invisible wall right between us.

‘Is that all I’m gonna get?’ She said fiercely.

I nodded curtly, and I started walking again.

‘It’s important to me,’ Electra said calmly. ‘To remember him.’

‘There are different ways to remember him,’ I said, thinking of the shadow in the fumes. I kept walking, but Electra stayed put.

‘I understand you’re scared to go there.’ I stopped walking.

‘I’m not scared, Electra.’

Foot before the other foot, Electra slithered closer to me. The synthetic glow of a street light made it seem her scar was smoldering. ‘All that revenge… Why? The blood we shed… To repair his memory? And yet, you’re so scared to visit a real one?’

‘To repair the city,’ I whispered, as I circled around her.

‘The city isn’t broken, nor is it whole,’ she hissed. ‘We just drink poison in the hope the antidote will be at the bottom of the glass.’

I squinted my eyes, not sure whether we were about to attack each other like wild animals or about to dance.

‘Look around,’ I said. ‘Look around at how everything you and I once called home is gradually ruined by the teeth of a spreading fire.’ The fire, inflamed by the leash holders, that was intended to bring us light and comfort, but is now beginning to destroy lives just to keep our hands warm. ‘This is not just revenge, this is about getting the city back to the way it used to be. The revenge just keeps us functioning.’ Are you still lying to yourself when you know you’re lying to yourself?

‘Functioning? Like when you play drums on the wood of a shattered piano, is the piano still functioning?’

‘What?’

‘I just – I’m…’ She didn’t finish her sentence, and she didn’t have to. Even though we were so close to the end, so close to the finish line now, so far along in the race – Electra had sprained her ankle long ago and she finally tumbled down. She was broken.

‘Once we kill him, it will be over,’ I said to her. ‘We will feel better, I promise.’ I felt sick once I said it, but quickly I tried to think about the pulsing pimple. The eyes that looked back at me were hopeful. We had to finish the race together, or at least I wanted to.

‘I just wanna see our old house one more time. Just see.’

‘It will only tarnish our memories, Electra,’ I said, and the coiling snake now slid from under my kidneys. ‘Let’s just get the video tape and end it.’

I extended my hand to her, and she hesitated.

‘Remember the way you felt a few hours ago. Your happiness.’

‘That wasn’t happiness,’ she replied, but she firmly took my hand.

The Video Tape

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