The Last Hope
The Last Hope4 mins 180 4 mins 180
Samsa sat cross-legged on the cold stone floor, the lamp's flicker casting his hunched shadow on the bare wall behind him. The pitter-patter of the rain and the shrill notes of crickets contributed to the serene ambiance. A soft wind blew, picking up pace and subsiding like a colt frolicking. It was beautifully calm, impeccable even, however, in strong contrast to Samsa's turmoil.
Samsa was distressed. Of late he had noticed blood in his phlegm. His eyes had become more droopy than before and his incessant cough was taking its toll. His dramatic aquiline nose and inconspicuous lips gave him the appearance of a sculpted deity. His scruffy hair told a story of their own. He knew that he'll be leaving the world behind soon. What scared him was not his death, but the fear that he would be gone without making a name for himself- unknown, unnoticed, just a face in the crowd. He rubbed his temples taking in a deep breath. Bending forward, he blew out the wispy flame.
The wind had picked up the pace and the lattice window rattled softly. The pages of his manuscript flew around a little before being scattered around his hovel. He blinked dimly but did not get up to gather them, instead, making some space around him, he lay down and was soon snoring. He simply did not care anymore.
Far in the market square, the church clock struck midnight and a lone owl hooted softly. The rain came down in pours now and even the crickets fell silent. That was when Samsa felt a presence in the room and he believed he woke up with a start, or so he would tell the townsfolk later in his life.
Rubbing his eyes with his sooty, scrawny fingers, he believed he saw an apparition in his room, a vaguely human form. He was too subdued by fear to form words, instead, he made inhuman guttural sounds in his throat. That was when the apparition spoke through Samsa felt as if the words were coming from his mouth.
"You have been working on this manuscript for a long time, Samsa." He said to himself. "It is time you told the world about this masterpiece, for these are the words of the Bard you speak, for I am him, you speak through me." Samsa fell silent and the apparition morphed. A different voice, feminine, spoke " For I am Brontë, and I have seen you toil, I say you give it for publication. You do not have much time left."
He stopped, squinted at the inexplicable presence, and continued in the same voice, " Come join us, Samsa, be immortalized, be celebrated, be one of us, be read, I give you my blessings."
Samsa was beyond perplexed, he could not understand if he was dreaming. He sat up and looked down at his frail hands, they were lifelike, it wasn't a dream nor a vision. He was at a loss he admitted. The apparition morphed again. A third voice spoke.
"Samsa, tomorrow is the only day you should go see the publisher if you want to not die unknown, unrecognized. For I am Chaucer, and I will guide you." With that, Samsa felt a weight leaving his body and the presence disappeared, he fell back into a deep slumber, undisturbed except by the torrential rain and the now howling wind.
The next day, he awoke with the first rays of the sun. Yawning, he reached for the pitcher which he always kept beside himself, and splashed water over his face and torso. That completely jolted him awake. He realized he still remembered the happenings of his dream or was he not asleep, he wondered. A small voice in his head told him that it was real. Remember what we told you, Samsa, follow what we instructed and be one of us, an ethereal voice echoed in his head. He felt weirdly rejuvenated, a new spring was in his step, even his cough had momentarily stopped. He caught his breath and touched his face. It felt fuller- younger, lively. The sunken eyes had almost gone, his lips felt healthy, his hair voluminous. He was confused, scared, and felt an enthusiastic wave of curiosity and liveliness run through him. Am I insane, he mused? However, the impulse to pick up the scattered papers and run-up to the publishers was too strong for him to resist. So, he did what his mind desired, what the voices in his head wished him to do.
For years, the disregarded, the ostracized Samsa had lost all hope of being successful. At sixty-five, one did not wish for fame, one just wished for a painless demise. However, the apparition had motivated him, he mused, as he felt his feeble legs lead him towards the place he had always dreamt of going… to the publisher. He was finally going to be an author, a published author, and adulated author, a celebrated author. He exulted in his momentous happiness, in the warm feeling of hope- his dream was on the verge of finally coming true.