Mara's Mirage

Chapter 1

I found myself in a wretched state. My body felt like a cold heap of clay as I lay motionless upon a bright blue futon in a closet of an apartment; a glass of Gin in one hand, a cigarette in another…

Since when did I learn to smoke?

I stared at the smoldering tip of the cigarette. I watched as the golden embers consume the white paper coating along with its leafy innards and turning them into fluffs of gray.

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust…

I chuckled at the thought while I continued to stare at the now almost inch high ash deposit. Instinctually, I lowered the cigarette to the ash tray lying beside my face and gently tapped the end. Tiny flashes of amber leaped out; reminding me of one of those fire crackers you light on a stick. Without warning, that last thought triggered an incoherent slideshow of faces, places and conversations. But like the ephemeral ambers of the burning cigarette, these images quickly dissipate and leaving me to wonder; who am I?

Beep Beep Beep

The monotone ringer of a cell phone urgently cried out to me. I took one last drag of my nearly expired cigarette before jabbing the butt into the ash tray. It was then that I noticed that the ash tray was red.

Red…Why the heck would I have a red ash tray?

Still puzzled by the ash tray I picked up the phone. Without thinking, my fingers pressed down upon the answer button.

"Hello?"

I paused. Not because I was waiting to hear the person on the other line; I paused because I was startled by my own voice. It sounded strangely effeminate.

"Hello… Um is… Is Dorian there?"

The voice was female; there was a hint of fear in the way she said the name Dorian. Without thought, my lips began to move and replied calmly:

"Dorian is not here right now. He's… out of town for a while. May I leave a message?"

"No… I'll call back later… No wait! Wait…"

She hesitated; I could tell by her heavy breathing that something was wrong. I tried to make sense of everything, her voice, the name Dorian but before anything coherent came to mind, the female voice suddenly asked softly:

"Is…. Is this Ada?"

Ada!

Beep

The tip of my thumb effortlessly pressed the cancel button and terminated the call. Like a key unlocking a door, the sound of "Ada" began to unravele the tangled web within my mind. I slowly dragged my heavy body to a vertical position. Although I had a pounding headache, my vision was clear and as I scanned across the room something caught my attention. It was an orange bottle filled with tinny white pills. The cap was removed and the bottle was tipped over. Half of the pills lay strewn across the small wooden coffee table and the other half were sprinkled upon the hardwood floor.

The Doc told me to only take them when I wasn't working… I guess I must have forgotten.

I let out a deep sigh. I had almost wished that I hadn't answered the phone. Sometimes being able to forget was a great blessing. With another sigh I stood up and picked up a stylish camel hair long coat resting upon a modern looking chair beside the futon. As I slipped my arms into the coat I took one last look at the apartment.

It's a cozy place. Too bad he's not going to get to stay here anymore.

From the left coat pocket I took out a box of cigarettes and a sliver lighter. With a quick flick of my wrist I ignited the amber flame. As I lit the cigarette I couldn't help but feel sorry for him. Dorian Hensly, a handsome researcher who appeared to have the perfect life, a loving wife and two beautiful children. However, what people didn't know was that he loved himself and his science above all.

I suppose when you play with fire you will eventually be consumed by it.

I looked down at my lighter; the initials DH were clearly engraved upon it. I released a large puff of acrid smoke and watch as the misty gray curls enveloped the engraving before carelessly tossing it upon the futon.

Was it all worth it Doc? Did you find your nirvana? Or are you trapped within a nightmare?

I walked out into the hallway and closed the door. The wooden stiletto heels of my leather boots announced my every step as I made my way through the narrow corridor leading to a pair of shiny elevators.

Just as I reached the elevators, the door of the right elevator suddenly began to slide open. It was then that I saw her; a woman in her mid twenties. She had light brown hair and wore only a medical examination gown; her face was ashen and cold. I could tell by the glassiness in her eyes that checking for a pulse was just a waste of time. I stepped into the elevator and knelt down beside her. Instinctually I slid my hand into the coat pocket and lifted out a pair of leather gloves. They were a bit big for my hand but it didn't matter. I placed one gloved hand upon her face and forced her eyelids to close. I never liked to look into the eyes of the deceased.

Bravo Doc... I guess you figured it out didn't you.

I stared at the girl for a while. There was a streak of moisture upon her face.

I'm sorry hon, this is all my fault… It really should be me sitting here, not you.

I took another drag of my second cigarette and stood up. The elevator had remained motionless this whole time. I pressed the button for the lobby floor. As the elevator began its slow descent, my mind began to trace back to all the strange events that lead to this moment.

"You owe me one Doc." I muttered out loud as I flicked the unfinished cigarette upon the stained red carpeted floor. The elevator came to a halting stop. I watched as the embers of the cigarette die; the automatic doors silently slid open and without hesitation, I calmly stepped out towards the blaring lights of red and blue.