To step into the Darkness, Episode 1

          Daniel Bertridge was walking down the street with no regard for the aspects of the passersby, whether known or unknown, nor for the aspects of the radiant summer day, for the invitingly flimsy dresses that the dissolute breeze was chatting up, unashamed. Driven by some reflex, he hardly knew where he was heading, mindless of the first day of his first university vacation. He seemed to be shrouded in the veil of heady impressions which unraveled and drank up his own thoughts. He was exalted, shattered and lost, all at once, aware that his soul would be asking (was actually asking) for something magnetically vague that had been left behind in the picture gallery, in the canvases of Felix Thornton. Perchance, all around them. 
          Once back home, Daniel felt no relief. He craved nothing but the painful joy that had taken possession of him there. There was nothing for it but to talk to himself. Nay, not so much talk as relate his impressions to his other self that was listening... that much he was sure of. ‘Should I go back to the gallery? Peer into those... into that weird world? And... get lost there? If only I could suddenly become one of those thousands of brush strokes. Felix Thornton, I wish I was a stroke of your frenzied brush... Should I go back... ?’
          Daniel never knew how he found himself in the bathroom, took his time washing his hands, then undressed, went to the shower and stood there as if waiting for that phony rain to wash off the day. ‘Where are you, my... old homeless folks? How I wish I could join you... You’d be chattering nineteen to the dozen. I’d love to have gone down the depths of your dig... and furrow my way into it. To hell with the gallery! May this Thornton go to hell...’

But Daniel’s old folks were on an archeological dig, same as most of the time in the course of his nineteen years, and could not hear him. ‘A good thing though they aren’t around—no nosey parkers to fight off...’ Daniel looked in the kitchen. He wasn’t hungry. He opened the fridge and took a pack of orange juice. He used a straw to take a swallow or two and headed for his den, never pausing at the living room: it didn’t look inviting. With a glance around the familiar walls, he grinned and landed full-length on the sofa. ‘Infected,’ he groaned. ‘Infected by that daub.’ Daniel got up and went to the window: it looked somewhat... ‘It’s okay. This calls for a look. Another look—that’s the ticket. Stop in front of that daub and look. Genius. He’s got genius, this Felix Thornton. What have I got to do with it? What... what? I can feel it... Ugly. Everything’s ugly. I’ve got a feeling that the genius had dipped his brush in my gut, sprayed me and smeared 7 me all over the canvas. I’m there now. Two or three strokes at least. And I want it that way. I’m here and there now. That’s why I’m being drawn there, me in my entirety... I’ve caught the bug, and I’m driven mad.’ Something has to be done, thought Daniel—the one of the two who was listening. He took the receiver and dialed one of his favorite numbers. ‘Yes?’ said the familiar voice.
           ‘Chris... hi. Listen. I... I’ve got something to tell you. I can’t help it. Don’t answer right away.’
‘That you, Dan? What’s wrong? Your hi sounds like no hi, and your voice is somewhat...’
‘It isn’t just my voice. It’s... I mean I’m sort of... Chris, I need your help. Even if you’re busy or have plans...’ ‘Calm down, Dan. I want you to know I have no particular plans for the very near future, and you can depend on me.’ ‘Thanks, Chris. You know... you’re still your old dear self, the way you were... in second, fifth, seventh grade. And thanks to you I’m coming back.’ ‘Where from, Dan?’ Chris chuckled.
‘Where from... ? From a parallel world... Does the name Felix Thornton ring any bells?’
‘Felix Thornton... ? Why yes. I read something the other day on the Art. Riddles and Discoveries site. The Eifmann Gallery’s about to exhibit his pictures. They must be displayed even now; I read the article three days ago. You been there?’
            ‘All in good time, Chris. I’ve been there and seen... well, that can wait. What do you know?’ ‘Next to nothing. A man, whats is name, did his best to have that collection displayed in galleries all over the country. Some of those galleries won’t have them shown for a variety of reasons though, you know, the writer hinted that this Thornton was controversial and shrouded his name in mystery, I think. Truth to tell, I didn’t think it anything much. Just what’s your interest, Dan?’ ‘Everything!’ cried Daniel. ‘All there is about him. Whatever you can find. You see... I don’t know what’s happening to me. I don’t know what he’s done to me... what his La vue en dedans has done to me—it’s the work of a genius.’ ‘Why La vue en dedans?’ ‘Because that’s what his exhibition’s called. Each of his pictures is called that.’ ‘Sorry, Dan, it quite escaped me, but the name of the exhibition was mentioned several times in the notice. I thought it was nothing much at the time, but now you’ve mentioned it, I’m quite intrigued. You don’t have to ask me to visit the exhibition right now.’
               ‘It isn’t just that, Chris. Please, find out all you can about it. All you can. Make it your priority. As soon as you can. I should’ve done it myself, but I’m psyched out.’ ‘Dan... Dan, I ask you to calm down and keep out of the parallel world. I’ll do my damnedest (always hoping I can) and call you right away.’ ‘Yes, thanks a lot... Hold on, Chris...’ He had meant to say something else but lost it and had to sign off. ‘See you.’ Daniel found the gallery number in the directory and dialed it. ‘Hi. Could you tell me how long the Felix Thornton exhibition will last? Thanks... Tomorrow’s the last day,’ Daniel echoed the gallery voice. ‘That means we’ll meet yet again, Felix Thornton.’

     to be continue.............

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