Hush, baby, hush
Beethoven – Moonlight Sonata – First Movement
The date is 28th of April. The weather is nothing but hot and humid. We step on the first stones to cross to the other side of the mountain. The bus left us by the grassy roadside, where the old and rotten wooden board with the wasted words, “S. Village Station,” hang lowly by the bushes. There you go, the bus driver said, Here is as far as I will go.
And thus, back to where we are, the first stones to cross to the other side of the mountain. The weather is nothing but hot and humid.
I wonder if this is the same place S. ended up. I wonder if he had gone down the same unpaved, rocky road. I wonder if I look any more closer, the three of us will find his cold corpse somewhere amidst the growing greens and the buried rocks, staring at us with his empty eyes, his flesh rottens, his bones showing through the decaying skin.
It’s been three months since S. started his investigation into the disappearance of young tourism in the S. village. And he is nowhere to be seen.
Hey man, you hear anything? M. says, tugging on Z.’s sleeve.
What? Ain’t nothing to be heard in the forest?
No, for real man. Listen carefully. There’s something in this forest man. It’s familiar. It’s like – It’s tugging on my mind, I can’t figure it out but it’s familiar. It’s like –
I stand straight up, inhale deeply, and look around. A faint melody rings in my ear. It sure sounds familiar. I close my eyes, trying to dig through the foggy my memory to find out what it is. Weird. I usually can pull out the name of such classical tune. Blindingly stepping in the direction of the melody, my feet seem to glide on air, and when I come to, I really did glide on air.
Man, you okay there? Z. comes up to me, followed by the heavy footsteps of M., who is shouting that there is something gripping firmly onto his feet.
You were walking like you were on air.
I sit up and look down. Under my feet is –
Shit, man, they are human corpses. Everywhere. Fucking human corpses, M. shouts, falling on his back.
Ah, now I remember. The melody. It is Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. The first movement.
Beethoven – Piano Sonata No. 17 “Tempest”
The date is 28th of April. The weather is nothing but hot and humid. We come to S. village when the sun is coming down and settling itself under the mountain. There is no one going out to meet us, of course, because there were no appointments made for the three of us to go out here. The shops are all closed, except for some night diners and a few motels. It seem the modern age has left this town alone for quite sometimes. The electricity is scarce and the wireless network is almost nowhere to be found.
Man, this place gives me the creeps, Z. shuffles the bags on his shoulders and whispers under his breath.
Don’t mention it. You will remind me of the pile of corpses out in the forest.
Hey, I say, tugging on M.’s sleeve.
Is it still on?
What is still on?
The human skin. Is it still on the bottom of your shoes?
Man, you sick or what? M. shouts at me and walks in anger to the first motel in sight.
You shouldn’t have said that, Z. walks by me and sighs heavily, The man is traumatized enough by the scene.
Yeah? I know, I say, But I keep on having that vision.
That if we keep on looking, closer, we might have found his corpse.
Whose corpse? S.’s?
Don’t be so negative. The man might still be alive. I mean his GPS is still on and stuff.
We walk to where M. is standing, negotiating with the motel’s owner. I keep thinking about what Z. said. During those three months of disappearance, S.’s GPS was always on. That’s how we knew he ended up in this shithole place. But that was it. Only the GPS. No news. Not messages. No mails. We got nothing else from him except the little shiny red dot on the screen telling us where to find him, dead or alive.
So really, Z., how can I not be negative?
Hello, are you the new tourist here?
I look over. By the stone wall, there is a group of three (or four, I don’t know, it is getting dark, and I don’t even know why they are still outside at this hour of the day) students. Among them, the one to speak up is this shy, timid little boy, who must still be under eighteen. The darkness of the night heightens the deep shade of bluish-green of his dark, ravenous hair, and the dimly lit street lamp lights up his pair of quizzical eyes. I don’t think I have ever seen such beauty in a boy his age.
Sir? Are you the new tourist here?
Let’s go, Y. He’s dumb.
Yeah, let’s go.
But he looks strange, the boy called Y. says to his friend, like he’s lost, Y. turns to look at me as if to make sure of what he just said.
Yes, I am a new tourist here, I reply, But I come with my friend, and I am not lost.
He tilts his head to the side, takes a closer look at my dishevel figure as my friends start to come around, and smiles. Not a usual smile where I often see in the city. I guess it’s different in villages.
Man, is there something wrong?
I look at the boy’s smiles and again, blindingly say, Nah.
The boy’s half-moon eyes glisten at my simple statement and coincidentally, both him and my friends say, Are you sure?
Yeah, I say, Pretty sure, though I am not sure who the answer is pointed to: the boy or my friends.
Okay. See you later, Mr. Tourist.
M. stares at the shadow of the boy as he walks away with his group of friends, laughing; his eyes squint at the black costume like the color of S.’s coffin that I always see in my dreams.
Be careful with the boy.
Why? He’s just a boy.
Don’t know. He just gives me the creeps.
Like the corpse forest?
Man, don’t bring that up.
You don’t understand what we are putting ourselves into, do you?
What do you mean?
Like you are lost.
Since S.’s been gone.
Dude, there’s no certain proof that S. died.
Anyways, he sighs heavily, Don’t get involved with that kid. He’s weird. Or better yet, don’t get involved with anyone in this village.
I walk inside the motel. The rooms are all lay out for us with new bedsheets and welcome drink. Tired and worn out after a day of climbing the mountain, I changed my clothes and lie down. Between the darkness of my eyelid and the strangely yellowish light of the street lamps outside the windows, I keep thinking of the boy’s figure as he stood between the shadow and the light. He stood there, tilting his head to the side, his dark eyes glistened, his smile lit up on a forest of corpses. Behind him is the figure of S. on the electric piano inside our tiny apartment. He’s playing something by Beethoven, his favorite composer. Both the boy and S. ask me, Are you sure?
I remember the melody instantly this time. It was Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 17 – “Tempest.”
Yeah, I reply, and ever since S.’s disappearance, I cry on the motel’s cheap pillow like a 3-year-old child again as if I had found his arms amidst the decaying arms of the corpse forest. As if I had found his eyes, still staring sweetly at me, amidst the eyes sockets and the anonymous skulls. As if I had found him, dead, but still him, in my embrace, in our tiny apartment. And he was still there, forever there, playing Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 17 – “Tempest.”