Photo: Illustration by Monika Walaszek

The Law of Gravitation

By Anna Leonowicz

Autumn had arrived. A girl was walking on the pavement covered with a thick layer of dry leaves. Each rhythmical step made them rustle like waves falling quietly on a shore. Sparrows were cheerfully quarreling in the bushes over the remaining berries. The girl arrived at the door of her house where a fireplace was waiting to welcome her with the low sounds of steadily burning wood. But shortly before she entered the door she heard the lonely and painful howl of a dog somewhere in the distance, which made her body shiver.

Years passed by and the woman was now a grown up. Her life was filled with noises, buzzing sounds of phones and quiet meetings with books. Her grandma was getting older and more and more helpless, walking back her way to childhood. So at times the woman took her wooden flute and played a tune about hope that brought her strength and gentleness.

A day came when the woman accompanied her grandma to a hospital, watched her mouth striving to utter her final words and listened to her heavy breaths. The old lady passed away with all her history, the days of joy and the days of grief. There was no thunder to make people notice the difference of her presence gone. The white walls of a hospital remained the same as well as its daily routine. A human being disappeared quietly like a melting petal of snow.

In the country of loss no activity seemed relevant. The woman felt numb and deaf but for the call of one place, the house of music, her secret chamber.

As she entered the sounds were already there, circling around people, whispering into their ears, nagging at them, pleasing and teasing, searching for those who will let them in. She sat quietly and was striving to make a place in herself for those invisible guests. While she was slowly immersing in the music someone asked her to dance, so she got up to be closer to everything that was silently playing inside her. With the movements she felt the sorrow and harshness of harmonica, the tenderness and gentleness of piano, the incessant will of survival and the rhythm of life. The lonely howl of a dog met with the talk of a cheerful stubborn sparrow. It all had its timing and place. She smiled.

While she was dancing there was a voice of a wise woman in the air telling that music is nothing we create. It is forever present in relation between sounds, something to be discovered. As an apple falls down subservient to the Law of Gravitation thus feelings vibrate with music. Circling between joy, sadness, anger and love, the most complex composition is like a memory of a man who has gone through a lifetime of experience.

Back at home the cat was lying on the couch and the wet sounds of his licking tongue were safely resonating in the room. At the sight of a fly he got up, suddenly straight and focused. Squeaking sounds of attack filled the air. The woman turned on the water over the bathtub and the rich and soothing tune immediately began to massage her mind. She laid in the bathtub and let her head sink under the water. The sounds gained a new value. They were more distant now, yet still clear. She entered another world of meaning.

AKNOWLEDGEMENTS: This story emerged from experiences in dancing Blues and Tango as well as singing. Therefore I would like to thank dancers in Kraków for sharing their joys and struggles with me, my singing teacher, Joanna Słowińska, for being a constant source of inspiration, and my friend Weronika Lach for encouragement in writing.

The Legend of Charlie the Boot Maker – Ch. 2

We continue with our Project Pegasus fictional story about Charlie the Boot Maker. After being marooned on a desert island for a year in Chapter 1, Charlie is rescued by a group of fishermen. Will he continue on his journey to Texas?

Chapter 2

The ship was a fishing ship. The fishermen were amazed to find Charlie. They told him that they were sailing to another island, to harvest a special type of sea creature. These creatures, when crushed, made the most brilliant purple. It was the same purple that the senators of Rome wore. Most people in Charlie’s age thought that all of the creatures were long since gone, but the sailors had heard a story about one island where they still lived. The sailors told Charlie that after they had harvested all of the sea creatures, they would bring him back with them to their home port. From there, he would be able to take another ship to Texas.

After several weeks of sailing, they reached this island. It was a steep, rocky island. At the water’s edge, among the breakwater pools, were thousands of the sea creatures, holding tight to the rocks. The sailors were very happy. They would become very rich men. They bragged about who would buy the most expensive house and court the prettiest woman. Charlie didn’t care about expensive houses or impressing woman. Looking at the thousands upon thousands of sea creatures, he guessed the sailors would be harvesting them for days, if not weeks. He figured he would explore the island a little bit while the sailors worked.

The island was steep with cliffs, but not barren. Charlie thought it was quite beautiful, in a sharp sort of way. The rocks made walking difficult. He made his way up higher and higher away from the water, scrambling and even climbing at times. He felt like a mountain goat. The past year on the sandy island had prepared him well for keeping balance on the rocks. In fact, he felt no fear as he made his way ever upwards.

The Legend of Charlie the Boot Maker – Ch. 1

One of our agents almost lost her life securing for us an original manuscript of the Legend of Charlie the Boot Maker. This legend is important to Project Pegasus. It goes something like this…

 

There is a legend in Texas about a boot maker named Charlie. Charlie could take just one look at your boots and know a lot about you. He even kept a little black book with your numbers in it. This story is about how Charlie got his gift.

Chapter 1

Charlie wasn’t born in Texas, but he did get there as fast as he could. It took him 10 years.

He was born in a land far away, across a wide ocean. As a child, he was fascinated by cowboys. As a teenager, he dreamed of the wide spaces of the West. As a young man, he decided he couldn’t wait any longer and had to try his luck in a new world. He bought himself a cowboy hat, kissed his mother goodbye, and hopped on a freighter bound for Texas.

However, this was the time of a great war. Enemy submarines hunted the seas. As fate would have it, one such submarine came upon Charlie’s ship. As Charlie watched from the deck, the submarine shot its deadly torpedoes at him. Terrible explosions rocked the ship and it began to sink. Crew members scurried about in chaos. Charlie felt the ship shudder under his feet and lurch to one side. He thought that it was now or never. Taking one last look over his shoulder, he put a hand on his cowboy hat, grabbed his belt, and threw himself overboard. The water jolted him. He desperately grabbed at some floating wreckage, pulling himself halfway out of the water. He looked up to see the ship slipping below the waves. The sounds of battle faded away until nothing remained but the sloshing of the ocean. Charlie was alone. Hours passed and he drifted with the waves, his strength slowly, but surely, fading.

Another Missing Studio Owner

One of our agents has a friend. Let’s just call him Frank. Frank knows his stuff. You should listen to what Frank has to say. You might learn something about Project Pegasus.

Detective Frank Bottom let out a sigh before switching off the studio’s sound system. The player had been stuck on shuffle. Who knew how long the music had been playing. These were dark times if even dance studio owners were disappearing now.

Frank looked around the place. It was as if an entire late night dance party had simply vanished. Drinks lay half-consumed on tables. Dance bags cluttered around the front door. The tip jar was even still full, bills poking out in plain sight.

But no sign of violence. Nothing broken, no blood, no bodies. This was the third time in a little over a month that Frank had been called in on case like this. The thing that was gnawing at him was that he could normally get a feeling if foul play was involved or not. His gut was telling him nothing now, and that bothered him.

He shuffled over towards the back of the studio. It was well kept. He could tell that the owner lived in the place. Built into the studio was a little room with a bed and a desk. Frank felt the bed. It was cold. He went over to the desk and started looking through the drawers. The owner’s wordly possessions were there. A phone, a wallet with some cash and worn business cards in it, and old laptop. Nothing out of place.

What was it about these dance studio owners? Why them? Frank had met a few in his line of work. They always seemed more or less normal. Maybe a tad odd, but nothing more than what you got with your standard artist. Hell, he had even let his daughter date one for a while. Now it was if Gabriel had blown his bloody horn and called them all away.

It was then that Frank noticed a door behind the bed. It looked as if it had been forced open in a hurry. His gut started tingling.

He peered inside. What did studio owners keep hidden in their closets? His eyes slid down towards the floor and fell onto an empty spot there. He let out a small chuckle. So this was the one thing that the studio owners were taking with them. Frank wasn’t a fan of poetry, but even so, he found it a tad charming.

Frank pulled out his phone. He had to call his boss. Favors were going to be needed. The only question that remained was why in God’s good name had all the studio owners decided that now was the time?

The Riddle of the Sphinx

One of our agents found a shred of parchment in an antiques dealer in Cairo. Faintly legible, the following may shed some light on Project Pegasus.

One day, Ozymandias was traveling in the desert. He came across a statue, long since worn almost to dust. At its base read the words, “God Save the Queen.”

Ozymandias thought this was an odd thing and carried on his way.

Soon after, he came to a large crevasse. Guarding the path across was the very Sphinx, itself.

“Halt!” cried the Sphinx, its terrible claws drawing sparks from the desert stone, “I will not let you pass unless you answer my riddle.”

Being the wisest king of all the lands, whose feats would be known forever across the sands of time, Ozymandias replied that he was not afraid and that he would answer the riddle.

“Fail to answer correctly, and I will throw you to your death,” warned the Sphinx.

Knowing that his mind had never failed him before, Ozymandias bid the Sphinx to continue.

“What is zero in the morning, full of numbers in the afternoon, and infinity in the night?” asked the Sphinx.

With a smile, Ozymandias told the Sphinx the correct answer. He passed by the Sphinx and over the crevasse, to continue his journey on into the history books.

What did he say?