Five Hearts Prologue
A worm has five hearts, but put all five of them together, and they fall far below the complexity of a single human heart. Maybe it’s better than way. Life can be simpler, expectations less, and satisfaction more easily achieved. Maybe the worm knows the secret of life.
Not so for the human who has only one heart. Even less, if the human is the victim of the worm, as happened many times before. A worm is powerful and negligently underestimated. Its prostomium is pointed and firm, preceding its toothless yet tremendously muscular mouth.
The prostomium is an ingenious invention of God. In a garden, it hacks slabs of mud, permitting food into the mouth, then grounding it down with mega pressure. The process lasts until the food is dragged down the length of its body, from heart to heart, with the droppings falling off the worm’s anus.
Equation: five Hearts = five times the mystery, five times the evil. My father told me that the worm thrives in human blood. The blood’s moisture gives it breath and sustenance as it eats your cartilage, a bone, crosses a vein, bores through the intestine lining, your kidneys, your liver until everything inside of you dissolves. You think, at last, your suffering ends and you are free.
But you are not. Instead, all your innards regrow systematically, a perfect ecosystem that is encased by your bodily skin. The liver pops back out. The veins reemerge and patch together. The heart pumps. And the process of the worm eating you up begins again. You are the worm’s eternal sustenance. You are in hell, after all.
Jabez Waldo woke up trembling, sweat dripping. He struggled to breathe, counting 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 with each inhalation. Morning will come, morning will come, Jabez whispered. The dream came when it pleased, sometimes daily, sometimes gone, then re-emerging after a year. Jabez reached for the Ambien and the bottle of water that he always kept beside his bed. This would lull him to a dreamless sleep.
……. ……. …….
Some 28 kilometers away from where Jabez slept lived an old woman with a unibrow. She got out of bed as she heard the wind hiss. She went to the front window of her house, looking into the night. The hiss of the wind was overwhelmed by a gentle embrace. The tree beside the window shook. A bat lived in that tree. She could see the curvature of its upside down body hanging on a branch, its long tongue licking nectar from a flower, an arm’s length away.
“Things will not be the same on Bamba Pera street,” the woman whispered sagely. To the left of her house was her sari sari store (a Filipino convenience store) in the place that should have been a garage. She had no car.
The Unibrow lady lowered her curtain. As she walked away a stampita (Catholic prayer card) of the Virgin Mary fell to the ground. The stampita depicted the Virgin Mary, but the artistic style was Hindu in nature. She heard the stampita softly flutter to the ground. She turned around, picked it up, and rearranged the rounded piece of scotch tape that was behind it. Then she patted the stampita back on the wall. She smiled. “Soon,” she told herself, “He will come to live on Bamba Pera street. Very soon.”
Across the street from the Unibrow Lady’s home, Kit Kultihim sat in front of the television monitors that comprised his elaborate CCTV system. Kit could view all activity taking place within the entire circumference of his house. Right now, he watched the movement at the window of the unibrow lady’s home. He adjusted his camera for a close up. He saw her look upward, then stare at the upside down bat on her tree. Then she dropped the curtains, concealing his view.
There was something strange about this woman, her movements, and in general, the subtle activity that characterized Bamba Pera street. He’d been observing everything for years, and in particular, had an excel sheet that marked the daily activity in the sari sari store in front of his house. He detected patterns – a tuna can, some bushes, and seven suspicious customers who frequented the unibrow lady’s store.
It was all subtle, but to the perceptive eye, strange. Kit put in the last notes for the day on his excel sheet -- the date, the time, the wind, the bat, and the peculiar look on the face of the unibrow lady. He opened a desk drawer and pulled out a clear book. Inside, he had printouts of every expression on the face of the unibrow lady through the years. This latest image seemed different.
He looked at the pupils of the unibrow lady’s eyes. They were larger than usual. Overall, she seemed to appear expectant, knowledgeable and somewhat weary. He suspected that she knew a secret. But she always knew secrets, followed by strange, subtle changes occurring on Bamba Pera street. Kit studied the lines on her eyes, the brows, which were thicker than normal. She would doubtless trim them the following day. She had three unibrow styles, he perceived, from his collection of her photos.
Kit put the new picture back inside the Clear Book. Then he turned off the light and went to the next room. There was a mattress on the floor where he liked to sleep. He lay down and dreamt many dreams.
This is the prologue to my novel. Thank you for reading this far. Your comments would be most appreciated, especially criticisms and comments on how this work in progress can improve. Thank you so much.
Proceed to Chapter 1 in the link below:
- Five Hearts Chapter 1
The chapter after this prologue