First Chapter Friday -- The Athiest by Alpha Cauwenbergh

Friday, December 30, 2016


About the Author: 

Cauwenbergh is a first time novelist and long time poet - the two years he spent writing this book were some of the most emotionally rewarding minutes and hours spent alone cocooned in music and words. Now his hope is simply for this work to thrill and inspire as many readers as possible. His creative mind has been inspired by everything from anime, manga, classic western literature and the experiences gained from his congolese heritage. Currently, he's the executive producer on a short film and book trailer based on 'The Atheist', and he hones his craft by writing new short stories and poems for his blog (alphacauwenbergh.com).  

Summary:

Julian, a mixed race boy from a broken home is 17 and in his last year of sixth form. After losing his mother in sudden and mysterious circumstances, he grew up with hate and resentment in his heart. His loving father, unable to tame him lives a life unfulfilled. Julian has long since lost faith in religious and academic institutions. God, to him, is nothing but a 3 letter word said by the delusional. But, he's about to be thrown in the middle of a war between two beings from a realm above the heavens. A war that transcends time and space, whose battle ground has become the very fabric of existence itself. Its warriors, like fallen Angels, live among us -- hidden within a program designed for their rehabilitation. Julian will rediscover beliefs and emotions he had long since discarded, have them brutally tested, witness things no other mortal man has -- and through these trials discover the true meaning of faith.


Chapter 1
**********************
I think therefore I am...I think therefore I am...but I am not, and have never been. I have been thinking for years but still have yet to see evidence for my existence; I guess that is another human saying of theirs that I don't agree with. They are always in my thoughts and in my heart...a sentiment I cannot actually fully realise as I am without substance but one I understand the meaning of. Loneliness I also understand...loneliness I also feel...but actually feel. Unlike the plethora of other subtle human emotions that are intangible in my lack of existence this one has resonated in everything I am not, ever since the moment I thought my first thought. Is it really my only true connection to these humans I watch continuously, tentatively and with piercing scrutiny as my timelessness elapses via their every moment, interactions and acts of great valour or evil? Or just a default occurrence of consciousness...I think therefore I am? 
If I am anything and not nothing, then I am an observer. This is what I have decided to call myself; I feel I can allow myself the self-indulgence of a first name. It’s very apt. My observations have always been limited to a specific line of sight, and this singular landscape I have been looking out into consists of a particular city, street, House and family. Why? I do not know... but I observe, after all it's not like I have a choice. Today the family is having a very peaceful morning for their standards...it's that time of ones breakfast and The Atheist is walking down the stairs...
**********************
"Bonjour fils!" François says with hopeful energy to Julian.
"Bonjour..." He quietly replies with an opposite energy.
A breakfast of omelette made with sardines and onions is served and a plate waits for Julian. Before sitting, he wonders for a moment... “why couldn't I smell this from upstairs?” This...his favourite breakfast, then as he scans the room his question is answered by two open kitchen windows. Just then he notices his father still patiently waiting for him to take his seat at the table with the demeanour of a well-trained dog awaiting its treat.
He obliges, François breaths a sigh of relief. So far so good he thinks to himself.
"So...how is the bike doing?" François asks.
"What that old ass chopper? It still has a heart beat I guess...what is it with ethnic families and passing on their unwanted rubbish to their kids? Maybe I should sell it…? But who would buy it...? With its silly sofa for a seat... do I look like Austin Powers?!"
"Hey! Have some respect son! You should be thankful and not be insulting a well meaning gift someone gave you because you failed your driving test... again..."
"A driving license would have been a better gift" he says with a smirk.
François decides to hold his tongue and just say nothing more. He feels it's better to allow silence to serenade the rest of their morning meal. Once Julian has finished his meal he looks at the time and knows he had better leave to get to school on time. He is in his last year of sixth form at Cardinal Francis Memorial School in London and with every other aspect of his education going quickly down the toilet he feels the least he could do is be on time. With his father silently watching his every move he leaves the table, places his plates in the sink and heads to the front door where his transportation to school awaited him. He resented that bike in every way, for being his father’s, for being old fashioned, for just being there at all. 
Before embarking on his morning ride to college he stops and stares as he has always done at the various pieces of his mum he had left. From the African pictures of animals she had once bought as a gift for his dad and proudly displayed on the walls of a house she made feel like a home, to the South American religious artefacts scattered around the place in an order he always felt was pretty random and unlike her. Then his moment of reflection would always culminate in looking at the only picture of his mother, it hung on the wall of the corridor that lead out of the living room and to the front door. He would look with nonchalant eyes as if trying to prove to her that the hole she left in his heart when she left suddenly and without goodbye had been filled and cemented over by his own strength and resolve. This was of course a lie and he would always leave just before he broke down and revealed his true emptiness and inconsolable despair. Now out of his front door he climbs aboard his Chopper, pauses to take in air and appreciate the beautiful and warm day that it is in May...he then starts pedalling away from his home and towards the familiar roads, sights and sounds that will guide him to his destination. Julian always enjoys this part of his morning, especially on a day such as this one. The sound of birds chirping in trees always makes him smile a gentle smile, even though they are hidden to his eyes by the density of flourishing trees and the speed of his movement through the semi-empty roads of early morning London. As well as that and in spite his own distain for his father’s bike he always enjoys the looks given to him by middle-aged men acknowledging the retro coolness of the chopper and by association his own coolness. This temporary high almost makes him forget the various aspects of his life that usually leave him low and socially dysfunctional. But as he approaches his destination his reality starts creeping back towards him, and as he turns the last corner of his journey the building where he's studied since the age of twelve appears before him and not even the beauty of this day can illuminate the darkness this building fills his heart with...
After chaining up his bike in the school car park, he takes a moment to menacingly stare back at the other students who from library windows are, as far as he is concerned, obviously making fun of him and his old fashioned bike. Then once he's had enough of that little song and dance Julian heads into the reception area with a slouched posture and demeanour that is in total contrast to the other students and teachers floating about the place all seemingly eager to get to where they need to be and assumedly learn and teach a great many things. But before he can make it to his own form class room to register his attendance, he is stopped by his former P.E teacher and Football coach, who is dressed in his usual Adidas trainers, shorts and t-shirt. A casual look that seems mismatched with the assertive body language he displays as he prepares what to say.
"Ah good morning Julian" he says in a mild scouse accent.
"Good morning Lloyd" 
"Would it kill you to say Mr Lloyd or just sir like everyone else?! It’s a simple gesture of respect."
"What have you done for me to respect you?"  Not wanting to open that can of worms, Mr Lloyd sighs and moves to conversation in another direction.
"What do you think about playing for my 1st 11 this weekend?"
"Not much" 
"Listen Julian we have 2 more matches left this season and one is a cup final against our rival comprehensive school! I haven't spoken to the players yet about you playing but I’m sure they will have no problem with it, and God knows we could use a striker with your athletic physique and natural goal scoring instinct!"
"Are you enjoying your office?" Julian says with a subtle anger hidden behind an indifferent facial expression.
"Are you seriously still going to mention that after all these years?"
"Are you seriously still trying to get me to play for your team after all these years?"
"Julian when are you going to grow up and stop wasting the talents that God gave you?!"
"Please let’s not involve that fabricated and useless character."
These words angered Mr Lloyd, much more then any of Julian’s previous rude responses. And with shortening patience he says
"What is wrong with you boy?! You have spent 6 years in a Roman Catholic school! Raised by Roman Catholic Parents and yet you still manage to end up so confused about your faith that you can spout that Atheist nonsense so freely! Yes we all appreciate what happened to you was difficult…" Before Mr Lloyd could continue his rant Julian aggressively interrupts
"Shut your mouth! What do you appreciate??? You didn't appreciate the concept of common decency did you!? You didn't appreciate the idea of someone’s pain! I will say what ever I want about that joke of a character you all worship! He's done nothing for me at all! Ever!" Although Mr Lloyd is not surprised by Julian’s words as he has heard them many times before he still can't get over how this boy can overlook the many things he believes God has blessed him with; intelligence, good looks and sporting prowess and instead focuses on other less positive details of his life most of which are of his own making, well all except...that one...that loss...Either way this kind of behaviour and language is never tolerated in this school and thus he would have to respond accordingly.
"Julian! Enough! This conversation is over I’ll see you on Saturday for your detention, and I will be speaking to your father and the headmaster about your continuing unacceptable behaviour."
And with that Mr Lloyd left to return to his teaching duties. Julian still a bit flustered and emotional used the long walk up several flights of stairs to his class to calm down. Once outside the classroom door he peers inside briefly, now relaxed and prepared for another day of pretending to listen he opens the door and steps in.
Now, while Julian is at college doing his usual impersonation of a student, his father is working hard as he always does Monday to Friday. François stood alone in a large warehouse filled with boxes of designer clothing items from handbags to shirts to stylish and impractical belts. He stood there doing what he always did at 1.15pm, having black coffee in a cup too small for his masculine manual labouring hands while staring at the pile of forms that was going to make up his afternoon work. He didn't mind the monotony of his work day too much though as this warehouse was his own space where unlike at home here he was the unquestionable authority. As well as that, he could listen to the radio playing his favourite songs without the judgmental moans and groans of his son, maybe even throw in a few dance moves if he saw fit, yes this space was truly a pleasant one for François a place to forget his troubles and strife. 
Half way through his cup of coffee, François' attention is drawn to the warehouse front door. A man stands there
"Hello old man!" the man says.
"Haha hello" François responds with a warm inviting smile.
"You realise James that I’m only 1 year older than you don't you?"
James walks in from the door way and towards where François stood.
"Yeah but a lot can happen in a year mate you know like hair loss, twenty kilos and impotency."
"None of which I’m afflicted with."
"Oh there's still time mate."
"Hahaha yes prophet James there definitely is." Although François was enjoying the banter he was starting to wonder why James from the adjacent warehouse had come in to see him, normally at this time he would be hard at work in a nearby cafe putting teeth to meat.
"So to what do I owe the pleasure of a visit from our resident prophet? Am I really more appealing than cow meat?"
"Ha not in a thousand Sundays old man, that bloody place is closed for some reason! Tell ya what I flipped my lid! I go there every day and it’s never closed! But this time it was and not even a note on the bloody door to explain why! Got me well annoyed."
"I can see."
"But after I’d finished giving birth to a few kittens I decided to come here and see if you knew another good little place I could stuff my face?"
"I'm very sorry but I don't actually know any, I am a man of packed lunches and very dark coffee."
"Shit! What bloody good are you, eh?" Then with a momentary pause and a huff, James now seemed acceptant of his meatless lunch. So he decides to take his mind off it by changing the subject.
"So how's the boy?" he asks in a deflated tone.
"Hmmm, well the same stubborn and difficult idiot he always is, you know I just don't understand why he behaves the way he does? I try so hard to provide him with a good life but he never seems to appreciate anything I do for him like this morning for example, he was complaining and insulting my Chopper that I gave him so he could get around as I can't afford to pay for more driving lessons for him at the moment! While he's at school no doubt not actually making an effort I’m actually working so he has something to eat when he gets home."
"Yeah mate, tell me about it, my daughters take everything me and the Mrs. do for them for granted. I think it’s just how today’s kids are. I blame MTV."
"Haha." François can't help but laugh despite his memory recall induced frustration, which was one of the aspects of James’s personality that he liked best he could always make him laugh and smile no matter his mood. Just then his mobile phone rings with a default ring tone unpleasant to the ear that perfectly gave away his lack of technological savvy. He recognises the number...
"Hello" he says answering the phone acceptant of bad news
“Hello hi Mr Mufunga? The voice on the other side says making sure to pronounce the name properly, François recognises this voice very well.
"Good afternoon Mr Lloyd what has he done now?" 
"Well, Mr Mufunga I was speaking to Julian this morning about possibly playing for the school football team and he responded by telling me to shut up! Now I don't need to tell you that this is totally unacceptable and way below the standards of behaviour we expect from all our pupils here at Cardinal Francis."
With a sigh François interrupts
"I know but you should really stop trying to get him to play for you, you know how he feels about you and what happened, he'll never play for you so why waste your time?"
"Yes well irrespective of that he still needs to learn to behave in a proper manner befitting of this school. So I’ve given him a Saturday detention." Another one, François thinks to himself.
"Okay I understand I’ll have a word with him when he gets home from school, thank you for letting me know."
"Yes please make sure that you do, he is an intelligent boy Mr Mufunga and we need to make sure that he doesn't waste it." With decreasing patience François answers
“Okay okay I know, now I need to get back to work Mr Lloyd if there's nothing else?"
"No there's nothing else"
"Okay then goodbye"
"Goodbye" the conversation ends and François is left with a familiar feeling of anger and disappointment. He then notices that James is gone, thinks to himself that he must have left to go find himself some lunch. Now, in no mood to enjoy his own lunch, he finishes off his coffee and gets back to work.
Back at school, Julian has decided to skip out on his afternoon French class, which he often does. He rationalises that being fluent in French makes going to the classes quite pointless. Though deep down he knows his limitations very well and that going could actually benefit even him. But nethertheless there he was, not in his French class but standing in front of the entrance to the school's chapel. Why he was there he did not know, he seemingly just ended up there by chance during his stroll through the empty corridors of the school. Corridors that always remained cool despite the warmth of the outside weather. He always appreciated that and the marble floors architectural design of the interior even more for being the cause of these fridge fresh hallways. But now that he found himself in front of a chapel he never paid too much attention to and in fact had refused to enter since that day, he felt different about it somehow...indifferent to it, not resentful or angry, just a nothingness. Was this newfound stone coldness to a situation that used to burn a molten lava of emotions in him, due to an emotional maturity he'd undergone without even being aware or a beyond explainable internal emotional response to the cool temperatures his outward self was feeling? Julian certainly didn't know the answer, nor was he going to waste anymore of his skipped French lesson thinking about it. So he walks in, slowly and cautiously at first but as his memories of the layout return to him he moves around the chapel with the comfort of a priest all the while observing everything in the room with an analytical eye. "Ridiculous" he mutters to himself as he looks at a large cross mounted high on a wall that was certainly the front of the room. He wasn't sure himself why he said that, it seemed to slip out accidentally. Without even being aware of it he had positioned himself so that he was standing at the back of the room beside the votive candles as if trying to maintain a safe distance from the large cross. He stands for a while just staring at it...thinking about her, thinking about how it let him down, thinking about how the beliefs that gave birth to such places are just simply wrong. That everything that happened and happens is just the result of poor judgments and selfish human decisions, and everything this room stood for had no part in it. That thought comforts him and he tends to find a lot of solace in logic and reason. His calming thoughts spread throughout his body into feelings of stillness, he has now stopped thinking and is just staring without focus at the cross, looking without seeing, totally calm and relaxed as if in a trance. Minutes passed by with Julian in this state...then he was slowly brought back to a more awakened state of mind by a slight warmth he could feel in and around his legs, he just dismissed it as the moments leading up to a sensation of pins and needles in his feet, probably from standing in one spot for too long in his ridged & unforgiving school shoes. But this it was not...that warmth got a bit warmer and he shook his legs in an attempt to improve his blood circulation and even joked to himself that this was the warmth of hell under his feet preparing to swallow up the Atheist blasphemer. This thought made him smile, but that was soon to be erased. In the moments that had passed since the first feeling of warmth, a chain reaction had begun that was putting his life in danger and altering the course of his future! And now it was no longer slight warmth he was feeling but genuine heat! He looked down to investigate and he saw flames! That joke wasn't sounding so funny now. "Damn I’m on fire!" He yells! "Where the hell is it coming from??!" Remembering the candles behind where he was standing he spins around, more flames! He stumbles back in shock his heart was now racing and adrenaline coursing through his veins, taking a second to analyse the flames he could see that they had waved and danced their way to the curtains that framed the only windows in the room and were rising ever higher at a frightening rate! Smoke of darkening grey was spreading across to the ceiling above his head, like water into a kitchen towel. His breathing became erratic and he tried to calm it down so as to not breathe in the smoke that was descending down and filling the room like an ominous fog of impending doom! But he was now too aware of the smell of different materials burning to calm down his respiration, it filled his nose to the point of tasting it! He found it sickening. Temporarily being able to summon some rational thought in the noise of RUN RUN RUN that filled his mind, he looked to the door he had entered, what seemed now to be a day and age ago, to see that he had closed it and the flames were now consuming the alter boy gowns that some lazy kids hand hung there! 
"Shit shit where do I go?! Damn it! I can't go out like this! The irony alone is reason enough to get my ass out of here! I will find a way out I’ve got time I just need to relax!" But his time was running out...and his destiny was drawing ever closer...in mere minutes the atheist would meet his end burnt in front of a God he didn't believe in and in a chapel he didn't respect.

-----------------------------------------------

If you would like more information about The Atheist, you can find it here:
Instagram - @alpha_stories
FB- @Juliantheatheist

*Permission received from author to post the first chapter. 

0 comments:

Post a Comment

 
(© copyright 2015)