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Nine Floors Up

The mind is it’s own place, and it itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.

The mind is it’s own place, and it itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven. John Milton

John Milton, a man of letters, was one of the greatest poets to grace the face of the world during the Renaissance.

Well, I think it’s rather rhetorical, that sentence. Every great painter, writer, sculptor to ever arrive, all lived during the Renaissance. Sure, times were tough. But those tough times brought out the genius in men. Literature was never more beautifully decorated than by the people of those time.
Recent times have seen only technological advancements which has indeed noticeably caused people to lose their sense of imagination and capability to think and have forced them to reject their spiritual values by yielding to bestial appetites or violence. I myself, am no different. I have used my intellect more to fraud or malice than to create. What can I say ? It’s not that easy to be a writer these days. Ideas and inspirations are hard to come by especially when the entire society is being engulfed by the wave of unnecessary and redundant amount of technological advancements in the entertainment world.
Thus at this point I have started to grab each and every opportunity I have been provided to write or showcase my worth. For a guy almost midway in the journey of life, freelance work is not exactly the best thing in the world. But that’s how my life is. I spend the mornings in front of the typewriter barely writing a few words, and the nights in clubs and bars, not because I’m an alcoholic with no steady source of income or a wife or a family, but because the food in clubs and bars are extremely cheap.
So according to readers’ expectations, this incident also starts from a dark and gloomy bar. The bar I am frequent at/to is filled with non achievers like me. We never talk to each other or engage in group activities, instead everyone sits there minding their own businesses, drinking alone. So on that Thursday, a fairly old fellow came up to me and sat on the stool next to mine. He broke the ice by introducing himself as a writer,a failed one ofcourse. I followed suit. As the conversation continued, I started to become more and more uncomfortable and surprised. In a room full of people who couldn’t care less about one another, a stranger walks up to me offering to help. Since I was at a point in my life from where I couldn’t go any further down and also because the three glasses of inexpensive booze was starting to kick in, I kept nodding to each of his questions. A few minutes later we were on our way to meet someone, who according to the stranger was an eminent publisher of some sort and was willing to help out struggling writers.
We took a cab and arrived at this place, which was quite appropriately called The Inferno Club. I had driven past it several times. This place is always full, with queues of people waiting for a chance to get in. Quite astonishingly this guy, who had introduced himself as Mario while we were in the taxi, had special access and for once I felt like a VIP. As we were about to walk in through the doors, the entire crowd of unknown faces started shouting and screaming. It wasn’t very long before the commotions started to break into fights. We hurried our way into the building. I got informed the our guy’s office was at the top floor of this nine storied building. And to our contempt there was no elevator in the building, or maybe our drunken heads were too heavy to locate one. Nonetheless, we started to stumble up the crowded stairs,clearing clouds of smoke from our face which had filled the entire passage. IMG-20180316-WA0021Even though I have never published a single story and am an absolute failure as a writer, I still possess more than average observational powers. As we started to move up to the second floor the crowd of indifferent faces started to reduce. As we came to the second floor I could hear screams of women from behind the closed doors of the small rooms along the corridor. However it was difficult to understand if those screams were of pleasure or pain. We quite shuffled along. By the time we arrived on the third floor, I started to grab a hold of the kind of place I was in. The stairs and floor were littered with people passed out on drugs. Some were bleeding, some were muttering strange sounds while staring at the walls. There were so many of these people that it had gotten difficult for us to climb up. These passed out people weren’t the only ones we had to be careful of. From what I saw it didn’t take more than a light nudge to start a brawl which gradually started to spread like wildfire. By this time I was starting to get more and more convinced by the name of this place. By now we were on the eighth floor. Suddenly the drunken atmosphere had passed away. People here, were sitting quietly, whispering to one another. Many of them were quite familiar faces. I was asked to wait here.
For the next fifteen minutes I wandered about trying to overhear people’s conversations. To my horror and disgust I started to realize where I was, who these people were and whose office I was about to enter. The small bags in everyone’s hands with visible stacks of cash cleared my remaining doubts. But being the man I was and having lost the number of opportunities I had over the last decade I decided to keep shut. Soon we both were asked to enter the office. There inside was sitting a man wearing a black shirt with an almost burnt out cigar in his left hand. His face was still hidden in the dark shadows. His deep low voice asked us to sit down. The man declared that the conversation we were about to have never took place and threatened to have us killed if anyone ever heard a word of it. He introduced himself as Lucifer. He was running for mayor. He offered me a job which he quoted as being “slightly on the other side of the law”. He added that I would have to write false statements and articles about other candidates and do the reverse for him. He wanted to be regarded as “a war hero”, a “saviour of the people”. I got more and more scared as I listened to the words coming out of his mouth. This man had no sense of compassion or respect. As far as I know, the other candidates were no better. Men like him are allowed to take responsibilities of the society. Men like him are allowed control of everything. I wanted to refuse his offer at the first chance I got. But suddenly something flashed infront of my eyes which blacked out my sense of judgement completely.
I agreed to everything he said and offered. I could see myself becoming one of them. I could feel myself being engulfed in the flames of the Inferno.

-Prithwijit Chowdhury

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