Shakuhachi, страница 1
By Jessica Mulholland
Copyright 2014 Jessica Mulholland
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Table of Contents
About the Author
Adam rolls his eyes and looks around the nearly empty shop, carelessly rearranging items on the shelves in front of him. He pushes his shaggy hair out of his eyes and glances at his watch before sighing heavily. The door opens with a bang and he watches as a strange, older man in a long hooded jacket quickly makes his way to the counter carrying a large cardboard box. The stranger drops the box onto the counter and mutters a few words to the shop owner before turning for the door. He locks eyes with Adam, sending a sharp shiver up Adam’s spine and making him flinch. The man narrows his eyes for a moment before turning away to hurry out of the shop and down the street.
“Adam! We’ve got some new donations I need you to sort and price. Make it quick! We’ve only got half an hour until close and I want you out of here on time tonight.”
Adam watches the stranger disappear before shaking his head and turning back to the counter. “Alright Mr. Goldberg, I’ll get right on it.” He makes his way to the counter and takes the box, tucking it under one arm. His fingers begin to tingle, and he looks around, confused. He shrugs it off and heads to the back office where he sets the box on an old, worn desk. The tingling stops as he lets go, and he stares at it for a moment before digging in a drawer for the price gun.
He hooks the desk chair with a foot and slides it under himself, plopping down and bending over to peer into the box. He frowns at the miscellaneous objects, reaching a hand in to shift them around a bit. A spark of electricity buzzes up his hand when he touches the items, and he pulls away quickly, shaking his hand as the feeling dissipates. “What the hell?” he mutters, staring into the box and its seemingly mundane contents. A flash of something catches his eye, and he reaches in again cautiously and pushes some of the objects over to one corner to reveal an old, beaten up wooden flute. He stares for a moment before reaching toward it, a powerful jolt of electricity shooting up his arm the instant his fingers bend around it. He gasps and pulls it out of the box, his eyes never straying from it.
“My God,” he whispers, as a strange feeling of power resonates through him from the flute. He stands and looks around the office quickly before slipping the instrument into the inside pocket of his jacket and zipping it closed, one hand held against the leather to feel the flute’s hard outline. Sparing a last glance at the box, he pushes away from the desk and quickly moves out of the office and into the shop. Eyes down, he avoids Mr. Goldberg’s curious gaze as he makes a beeline for the door.
He speeds down the street, his eyes constantly roving, taking in his surroundings anxiously. He turns the corner nearly at a run and crosses the street at a diagonal before rushing up the walkway of an older, slightly dilapidated house. He turns the doorknob and pushes the door open, keeping his head down as he practically sprints through the living room and down a back hallway. An older female voice calls after him as he shoves the back bedroom door open and frantically jumps into the room, slamming and locking the door behind him. He goes to the window and pulls the blinds down after flipping the latch on the window to lock it. He works hard to catch his breath as he drops onto the edge of his unkempt bed and unzips his coat, pulling the flute out of its hiding place.
He holds the instrument gingerly with both hands and stares at it, feeling its power filter though his fingertips and up his arms. As if in a trance, he brings it to his lips and begins to exhale slowly, his fingers moving to the flute’s holes as if they had been playing for years. A slow, hauntingly beautiful melody begins to play, and after a slight pause Adam starts playing more fervently, rocking back and forth in time with the music. He closes his eyes and allows himself to be taken over by the music, letting it flow through him and overpower all of his senses.
A soft purple haze begins to emanate from the flute’s end, wrapping Adam in a thick coating and slowly settling down onto his skin. Adam shudders, unaware as the purple haze seems to absorb into his body and his grip on the flute tightens. The music begins to play more rapidly, the purple tendrils continuing to pour from the flute, snaking their way through Adams room. As the tendrils reach the walls they seem to transform, spreading out in vibrant, colorful swirls that envelop every bare inch of space.
Several small tendrils move toward the houseplant on Adam’s desk, licking at the leaves and slowly penetrating them, causing the entire plant to vibrate wildly as the tendrils force themselves into its being. The deep green of the plant’s leaves slowly shift to a bright orange, with streaks of yellow running through them into their stems. As the sound of the music gets louder and more urgent, the plant’s leaves begin to shift in size and shape until they are nearly unrecognizable. The entire plant begins to grow and shift, causing the thing clay pot that once held it to crack and fall apart, unable to handle the pressure. The plant’s roots stretch out from the pieces of broken clay, pushing dirt onto the floor as they explore the desk’s surface.
The plant uses its roots to lift itself up off the desk, first sliding to the edge and then jumping down to the floor. It slowly moves across the dirty carpet to the middle of the room, continuing to grow in size as its leaves and roots stretch and explore. One of the roots brushes up Adam’s pants leg, pulling him out of the music’s trance and making him drop the flute. Another root juts out and catches the flute before it hits the floor, cradling it gently.
Adam shakes his head in confusion, his eyes taking in the room around him as his mouth hangs open, his jaw slack. His eyes trace the beautiful swirls of color along the walls down to the plant in the middle of the room and he jumps back onto the bed, swatting at the root still exploring his ankle. The plant holds tight, yanking Adam back to the edge of the bed. It holds the flute up, all of its leaves tilted toward him expectantly. Adam pushes the flute away, his eyes studying the clock on the wall as he realizes hours have passed in what felt like mere minutes. The flute begins to vibrate and sing out to him, and his hands ache to hold it once again. He reaches out to take hold of it, shivering, as the echoes of its beautiful music seem to make their way down into the depths of his soul and settle into his bones. The flute pulsates in his hands, begging to be played. Adam turns away from it, setting it down next to him on the bed before standing and crouching in front of the plant.
He stretches a hand out tentatively, stroking one of the plant’s soft leaves before the plant recoils from his touch. He stands again, moving to run his fingers over the swirls on one of the walls. A haunting echo from the flute draws him back to it, and he moves toward the bed once again and sits at the top, pulling his legs onto the mattress and leaning against the wall, legs crisscrossed. He reaches out and takes the instrument in his hands once more, turning it over and inspecting every inch of its wooden body. He finds small, almost unrecognizable symbols etched into its base, and he runs a finger over them to feel the indentations in the smooth wood. It calls out to him to be played, and he nearly puts it to his lips, but he stops himself at the last moment and thrusts it away once more.
He stands back up and skirts around the undulating plant, brushing the remnants of the broken pot and its contents to the floor before pulling the desk chair out and sitting down. He reaches for the laptop in the middle of the desk and flips it open, jiggling his legs
After what feels like hours he sits straight, his eyes wide as he takes in the information on the screen. He jumps up, sending the chair flying backward until the plant’s leaves grip it and gently push it back toward the desk while Adam moves to the bed, taking the flute up and staring at it for a moment. “Shakuhachi,” he whispers reverently, “could the stories really be true?” He holds the flute in front of the screen, matching it to a crude hand-drawn image of what looks to be an identical flute surrounded by ancient Japanese symbols on an old, decaying sheet of paper. He holds the flute to his chest gently for a moment before slipping it back into the inside pocket of his jacket. He heads for the door, his head down and pace quick.
Adam wanders aimlessly through town, his heart racing when he finds himself sitting in the middle of an abandoned, overgrown park. He positions himself in a clearing surrounded by trees and takes the flute out, setting it on the grass before him. “Please,” he whispers, “let this work!” He takes a long, deep breath and reaches down to take the flute back up. He closes his eyes and balances the flute evenly in both hands, letting the electric feeling flow through him and pour out to warm the ground beneath him. He slowly brings the flute to his lips, relishing in the power emanating from it as he begins to exhale into the instrument. He allows instinct to take over as the air fills with the flute’s haunting melody. Rocking slowly to the beat of the music, Adam lets go of every reservation, opening his mind to let himself and the flute to meld into one being, giving all of himself to its needs and wants.
The flute works through Adam and forces him to open his eyes, allowing him to see the world from its perspective. Adam shudders sadly as he sees a viscous black fog that seems to weigh the trees and grass down, permeating everything it touches. He begins to play more desperately, his eyes going wide as he watches the purple tendrils begin to flow from the flute and attack the darkness. Excitement pulses through Adam as the flute’s powers strengthen, pulling from the now cleansed earth below him and escaping through the flute’s openings in stronger, thicker tendrils. Streaks of gold begin to filter through, working alongside the purple haze to beat back the darkness faster and with less difficulty.
Any last shred of reservation dissipates from Adam as he watches the changes the flute’s influence cause. He grins as the grass and trees begin to thrive the moment the flute’s tendrils find them. The earth beneath him begins to hum as the spots of darkness become weaker and start to disappear altogether. Eventually the flute allows Adam to drop his arms and he stands to turn around in circles, an immense sense of accomplishment filling him. He looks down to the flute still clutched in his hand, determined to follow it to the ends of the earth in order to fulfill its quest to return to the world the beauty it once had.
About the Author:
Jessica Mulholland is an aspiring writer who is currently studying at Full Sail University, working toward obtaining a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree. Her most recent collaborative transmedia project, When Stick Men Dance, is currently available for viewing online. Jessica enjoys playing tabletop games with her family and spending time with her animals. She resides in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, and would never dream of turning down a good cup of coffee.
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