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Cracks in the Sky

March 9, 2015

June 7th, 2015. 10.30 pm. The tapping of my leather shoes is echoing in this hall of silence. It paints the room with constant, rhytmic pattern, it’s beautiful. At least, for me. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. In rhytm. It was only me, my pair of shoes, and countless locked doors in the hallway. The moon has shown her full face. It’s beatiful, hanging there in the night sky, accompanied with sparkling stars around her. I can see it through the giant window in the middle of the hallway. I stopped there for a brief moment. So does the echoing rhytm of my shoes.

I stare at the moon in awe. As a child, I always wondered, why does the moon comes in many sizes ? The first I remember, it was in a full circle, then gradually getting smaller, and smaller in a few days, and then gradually getting bigger and bigger in the next few days after. But then I found the answer in the science class. It wasn’t so fascinating at all. Sometimes, things are better left unexplained. Let the imagination paint the picture of what really happened. I always wish that it’s not the moon’s orbit that made it bigger and smaller, but rather a big giant keep eating it and spitting it out. It must be funny. The giant can’t never be satisfied by the taste of the moon and keep spitting it after he ate it. But then he ate it again because he forgets how does the moon tasted, and so on. But no, the science proved it the other way around.

I started to continue my walk, ignoring the moon. Pretty sure when I’m come back, over the window, she’ll still be there. Poor thing, have nowhere to go. Unlike human, moon never had a choice. She will always rotate on her orbit, going around and around the earth. It will never change. I wonder how she thinks about the earth ?

After a few seconds, I realized that the tapping is back. Still in a nice rhytm. It follows me everywhere I go. I just went from my friend’s hospital room, I want to sip some cold coffee from the vending machine to keep me awake. I need to finish my article. The deadline is on 00.05 am on June 8th. It’s a football article to be published on a well known football site. It’s about Everton’s disastrous 2014-2015 season. One of the hardest article ever for me. It’s always hard to openly criticize your own favorite team, for the sake of objectiveness over subjectiveness. It’s a challenge for me. I love challenge though. Walking alone in the hospital hallway in this hour is also a challenge –for most people. Although, I am not entirely sure about that. I mean, don’t you agree that hospital is the safest place on earth ?

I’m gonna explain it briefly. First, whenever something is going wrong with your body, hospital is the first place to come by. When you got an accident, you’ll go to the hospital. When you accidentally or purposedly cut off your arm, you’ll go to hospital. When you had asthma attack, you’ll go to the hospital. It’s really the place to go when your life is in danger. But, it takes time for you to go to the hospital. When it’s a matter of life and death, a few seconds could be fatal. Blood clots can be deadly if it’s treated a few seconds late. So does with brain dead, or other injuries. We can cut out those precious time if we’re already in the hospital. I know that the hospital isn’t always be able to save everyone, but at least, it’s a first step. That’s the first reason on why hospital is the safest place.

Second, in a time of war, hospital is one of the few places that can’t be attack by any means. In modern conflicts, I often see some hospital is being bombed since it become a stronghold of a combatant party. Well, that’s when hospital has lost it’s own meaning. So it’s not really a hospital. The true hospital wouldn’t store anything as dangerous as weaponry.

Third, hospital provides you the cleanliest things available. They separate dangerous trashes and normal trashes, so you don’t accidentally got stung by syringe that were once used by a hepatitist patient. You might get one in regular thrash bin. Trust me. They also mop their floor with special cleanser that will kill bacterias. You know, the familiar smell of the hospital. It’s the smell of safety for me.

Those 3 reasons for me are more than enough to make the hospital as the safest place on earth. What about contagious dead bodies ? Well, it’s technically safer than a police station where you don’t know when an angry mob will strike at will to release their leader. It happened, right ?

Many people say that hospital is scary because many people died there. Of course it’s painful to see people goes. But, a battlefield is way scarier. Severed head, body full of holes, part of arms and legs, bloody torso, anything you can hardly imagine. Ghost ? Pfft. Ghost ? Come on. The tears and screams of people who lost their family or colleague in the hospital is painful. But, do you realize, that the prayers that are being recited in the hospital is somewhat more sincere than those in the mosque, or church ? The hospital wall heard more sincere prayers than the wall of mosque and or church. Because those in the hospital are really praying to let or not letting someone goes.

While hardly thinking, about the hospital –I already forgot about my article, I finally found a vending machine. It’s a standard model I saw once in Japan when I went there with the company trip. I wonder how they exported it here ? Legally, or ilegally ? But since, there is a customer service number provided by the big soft drink company, I’m pretty sure that it is legal. I bought a can of cold coffee, since I can’t stand hot coffee. I put my 20,000 rupiah bill there, press the button, and there goes the can and the changes.

The tiny drops of water are all over the can. It’s cold. Just like what the button said. Cold. The button never lies. Machine never lies. Unlike human, they function perfectly. When the creator says A, it will do A. As long as it is not broken. And when it got broken, just replace the broken part, and it will be back to normal. Human, when the creator says A, it will do A, or what might be A, or what might not be A, or B, or C, and so on. So, which one is perfect ? Human ? Or machine ? The other voices in my head screamed: “HEI ! DID THE CREATOR REALLY SAID A ?”. I’m not gonna answer that.

I opened the can and start drinking. I always love the sensation when the sweet and bitter coffee touches my tongue. It’s cold, so it won’t burn my tongue. Perfect. The sweetness of the coffee sometimes left a bad, bitter aftertaste, but it can always be erased by the pureness of mineral water. Coffee is my best friend. I’m sure it’s every writers’ best friend. He keeps you awakes at night. He is always available. He never lies. He never complains. And he will always does his job as it is. His only weakness is that he can get expired in a few months. Human companion doesn’t. Sometimes.

I sit in the bench for quite while. A cold bench made of steel with no wood on it. Pure steel. I like this kind of bench. Doesn’t make me dozed off. Perfect place for thinking. Now, I have to think about the article. But then, suddenly I heard sound of choir. It’s in the middle of the night. Come on. It’s 10 pm. And it’s not a Christian Hospital. No reason to have a choir practice at this kind of time. I’m curious. So I go to find out where the sounds come from. Funny thing, my footsteps are tapping new sounds, accompanying the choir. It’s like I’m their beatkeeper. I’m Buddy Rich to his big band. When I finally reach the sound source, I was so disappointed. Again. The truth outgunned the imagination. I know I “pfffttt” on ghosts, but I still want to meet some. It was not a ghostly choir. It was the security man’s cellphone. He didn’t answer it quickly because he’s dozing off. Aw come on ! I missed my thinking time for that.

Then I go back to my friend’s room. He’s been sick for a while. Pulmonary Edema. Sounds sick ? Yeah, it is. He accidentally inhaled some toxic gas from a coal mine in Sunderland, England. He was on a family vacation when he went to the coal mine to learn more about the city of Sunderland and it’s famous Stadium of Light, which was built in honoring the coalminers that bring prosperity to the city. He’s been in coma for 2 weeks, and was able to be transferred back to Jakarta. Don’t ask me how, it just happened. He’s my best friend. A great friend since highschool. For tonight, I asked his family wether if I can be with him for all the night. On June 10th, I have to go to Italy for a next few months. AC Milan has exclusively asked me to be their South-East Asian scout, and I will get some intensive training for that. I don’t want to miss that. Ever. Of course I won’t let my current job goes, I can be a journo while also being a scout.

When I passed the big window that shows the moon, the moon is not there anymore. It is now shrouded behind veil of clouds. Beautiful. Sometimes, I argue with the clouds when he hides the moon, but this is one of the time that I don’t argue with the clouds, since it really is beautiful. But then, suddenly, the sky cracks. It cracks. Literally. Was it thunder ? No. It’s not. The sky cracks. It shattered in the middle. What behind the crack, I can’t really confirm it, but I’m pretty sure it’s black. Pitchblack. Like the blackest black possible. Suddenly, something is descending from the crack. A human ? No. Bird ? Too big. Oh wait, is it the Argentavis ? The giant bird of Argentina ? No, it certainly is not. Winged human ? Perhaps. As soon as the winged thing hit the ground, gracefully. The crack is starting to close up. And the clouds are all now cleared up. The moon is back there. Like a queen, she stands there magnificently. Great.

When I see my black seiko watch, it surprises me. 11.30 pm. Already. What ? I was staring at the moon for an hour ? Oh no ! My deadline ! I then rushed to my friend’s room, don’t mind the noises from my shoes, the doors here are all soundproofed. When I went there, the door is opened. Whoa. Is his family come over ? When I slowly walked into a very brightened room. My heart shattered. Crash cart sounds are filling the room. The beeping sounds that sounded like a broken pager, the doctors and nurses screaming “CLEAR !” accompanied with a big bumpy sound from my friend’s chest. He clearly is being resuscitated. Is he… died ? No. Not yet. They are trying to make him a Lazarus. Back from the dead. Come on. I know you guys can. You guys are awesome. The best in the country. And you know, when even the best failed, it is a destiny. My friend passed away. After 2 weeks in a coma.

I don’t know what to say to his family. Their father, son, uncle, died on my watch. No, not on my watch. I was gone back there. The doctor said that my friend got the flatline on 11.15 pm. Right in the time I saw the sky cracked. I didn’t see him leaving this world for eternity. Time of death is 11.32 pm. But I always think that the flatline is when his soul leaves his body. I don’t know. One thing I know for sure, he died alone.

The family comes not long after I call them and bear the news. His wife seems composed, I think she is ready. His only child keep on screaming his daddy’s name. It’s just painful. I never felt such lost. I was wrong about the hospital. It does hear more sincere prayers than church or mosque, but it also hear these heartbreaking screams. It’s painful. I think if the wall can cry, it tears must have been dried out.

=================================================================================================

A few weeks later, I finally settled in Italy. I’m starting to get over my friend. It’s good to be able to move on this fast. Maybe because I’m really excited with this new job. It’s only the training, but it has been fun. It’s Sunday now, so I went to a public library. I pick some books randomly, but then I found this very interesting book entitled On Seraphim written by Osvaldo Arquetta. Never heard of this book. But it is a pretty old book. It smells like… well, like an old book. You know, almost like the smell of the dried ground after it’s first rain. Petrichor-ish. Turned out, it is a mini encyclopedia about angels. Complete with names and pictures on it.

One name got my attention. Azrael. It sounds cool, so I read about it. Turned out, it’s the archangel of death in islamic tradition. Oh well, he’s known as Izrail in Indonesian. What surprises me next, is the image Arquetta drawn on Azrael. The exact, same figure that I saw descended from the cracked sky. Then, it was Azrael. It was the angel of death that came from the cracked sky. I’m astonished. I stay there. Re-read the page, and still, the most information I can get from the page is that Azrael is the angel of death in islamic tradition. Someday, in the last day of doomsday –which last for three days-, Azrael will be still alive after he ‘finishes’ his job –taking every beings’ live, and then he will take his own life. It is said, in the book, that his scream will finish every life –accidentally left on earth. What a faithful servant eh ? Almost like the vending machine. Is he evil ? I don’t think so. He’s just doing his job.

That’s the bit of information I can get from the book. I was shocked. Did I see Azrael back there ? That big winged figure, which is certainly not an Argentavis nor a winged human ? Since my friend died not long after that ? I don’t know. I place the book back, and promised myself I will never-ever read that book anymore, it’s creepy. I don’t want to know what I saw. I think the book can give me the answer, but that’s it, I don’t want the answer. I decided that it was all coincidence and pure illusion. Maybe. Then, I come out the library, look up  at the sky, and it cracks.

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