The cube and the cog, Watercolour on paper, Artwork size: 27 x 37 cm, 22 July 2014

List of chapters in 2014 “A walk on the dark side”:
Jan – Dark Night, Feb 2014 – The Tunnel, Mar 2014 – The Invitation, Apr 2014 – Underground Palace, May 2014 – Foxy Gentleman, Jun 2014 – Crystal Lizard, Jul 2014 – Three Little Mice, Aug 2014 – Mr. Mad, Sep 2014 – Chess Game, Oct 2014 – Lost Children, Nov 2014 – The Garden

Foxy gentleman

I felt a little embarrassed admitting it, but I couldn’t remember what happened after I answered Christoph’s question. I found myself waking up in a glass room, hanging a metre above the ground.

To my right, I could see a man with his leg chained to a pole in the middle, and he was
pushing a large cog around and around endlessly. He looked exhausted. I could hear him counting “981, 982, …”. I knocked on the glass wall, trying to get his attention. He glanced at me but he didn’t seem to care enough to stop.

The mechanism looked like a grinding mill, somehow it reminded me of scones. I had to admit choking on a scone once, as I’d taken a very large bite, but I couldn’t say I didn’t enjoy the choking.

As if he’d heard my thoughts, he paused for a second and looked at me, with his greyish blue eyes. He then continued to push the machine. After another few rounds, he stopped. The cuffs on his ankle opened on their own and he walked towards me. “Who are you? How did you get here?” he said.
“I … sometime wonder the same question …” I said.
“Only people who are afraid of themselves stay in the glass cage.” He said as he smiled at me.

“I can’t wait to get out of here, if I know how.” I lowered myself to a position near the opening at the bottom of the glass cage, from where his voice had travelled.

“Alright. Let me find something to get you out of there.” He turned around and started searching. I could see his broad shoulders as he turned around, that somehow gave me a little extra confidence. He did sound friendly at the same time, so I was convinced that he could do something to get me out of here.

“What is this place anyway?” I asked.
“Didn’t she tell you?” He was still looking around the space.
“No … I mean, who are you talking about?”
“The Winter Queen.” He looked back. “Wasn’t it she who let you in?”
“No, a man called Christoph invited me in.”
“Oh, yes. That guy.”
“Who is he?”
“I guess he serves the Winter Queen, like most of us here.”
“I see. So what do you do?”
“I have to turn that damn cog 999 times a day, so the whole underground can run.”

“So this Winter Queen, she must be powerful?”
“You can say that. She can grant you many wishes.”
“What kind of wishes?”
He paused for a second and said, “Anything you want.” He looked away.

I felt that I might have asked too many questions, so I looked around the space. It was like some sort of cave with dimmed light. It looked very different from the room I was in earlier. Suddenly he turned around,”wouldn’t you be able to escape through that opening? If you lose that jacket and all? I can put something under the cube, so you can rest on it while you slowly move out.”

“Like a rat creeping out of the hole in the floor?” I laughed.
“Hey, I didn’t say that … but If you put it that way.” He smiled. “I think the opening might be big enough for your tiny frame.”
He moved a table under the cube. “There you go.”

“Hmm…” I stood up, took off my coat and started to climb out. There was a gap between the glass and the table, so I slowly followed with my body and landed on it. The shoulder was the hard part as I had to position myself properly, working around the space to make sure it can get out. That was when I realised I might be half stuck at my waist, if I couldn’t push my hips through the space.

I was somewhat embarrassed with my posture, so I had a quick glance at this man I had just met. Luckily he seemed to be occupied with something else and not looking my way at all. So I proceeded further, almost sliding my legs towards the opening, and finally, I could feel my hip move through the space without too much bother.

“That wasn’t so bad after all.” I retrieved my coat while the man turned around.
He smiled and said, “that was too easy. I’m Dan by the way.” He offered his hand but I was already off the table by then.
“I’m Yeok.” I said, “this is quite a strange way to meet people but, thanks for your help.”
“I didn’t do much really, you are just good at escaping.” Dan said.
“So how shall I meet this winter queen? If she had a plan for me to show up here.” I immediately felt naive saying it as Dan’s face didn’t look so relaxed anymore.

“No, you don’t ask to meet her. She will ask for you when she feels like it. Some people wait for months for this to happen, and she certainly has her way to make you wait.” Dan seemed a little stressed. “Anyway I’ve got to go for the day. Good luck with whatever you want to do.”

As I saw Dan walking out, I started to look around the room. There were things lying around the place carelessly. There was also a lot of dust on them, as if everything was forgotten for a very long time.

When I got bored of that place, I started to explore outside. I was a little surprised how quickly Dan left. I should have asked him about this place before I had to explore it on my own.

The second room directly outside was not as well lit, but from far I could see something glowing in the dark. A little creature was sitting on the floor, and its skin was glowing a cold white light. As soon as I realised it was a boy, I said,”Oh hi …” He didn’t respond. So I continued,”hope I’m not interrupting.” He looked up, and stared at me for one second. He had a perfect face, innocent, and strangely beautiful. And suddenly he opened his mouth, extended his jaw and made a disturbing and sharp sound.

It reminded me of a lizard.

I was scared at first, but realizing his neck was chained to the wall, I remained and waited, trying to make sense of it.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt you.” I slowly approached him.

He closed his jaw, as if it never happened. And he gave me a small grin. “You were scared weren’t you?”

List of chapters in 2014 “A walk on the dark side”:
Jan – Dark Night, Feb 2014 – The Tunnel, Mar 2014 – The Invitation, Apr 2014 – Underground Palace, May 2014 – Foxy Gentleman, Jun 2014 – Crystal Lizard, Jul 2014 – Three Little Mice, Aug 2014 – Mr. Mad, Sep 2014 – Chess Game, Oct 2014 – Lost Children, Nov 2014 – The Garden

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