Folyosó Autumn 2020 - Page 4

Danse Macabre

Lilla Kassai

Ivory Mars had been a widow for a long time. Her husband, Michael, had died three years ago at the age of ninety-seven, in his sleep. Well, many people would say, three years isn’t so long, but for Ivory, every day without him was torture. She felt an emptiness growing in her day by day. She became numb because she couldn’t feel her beloved next to her.

Still, she was smiling every time she walked in the garden of their mansion. It was built in 1947, after the war, from the remained ruins of the house, which had been destroyed by German bombs. They built their new house together; it had cost plenty of time and energy, but they made it through.

The mansion was located at the furthest corner of the little town, halfway in the pinewoods. It was painted black on the outside and had a round window on the second floor, facing the street. Whoever walked past their home would start to walk faster immediately. At first glance it seemed like a home of demons and monsters, but Mr. and Mrs. Mars were neither evil nor unfriendly. They had their own style, which kept the weak people away.

Mrs. Mars walked out to the garden. It was her favourite place: the grass was dark green, and every morning it was glistening with water drops. Behind the house was an enormous rose arbor filled with black roses. She smiled every time she peeked at the big, fragrant flowers. She breathed in the air filled with the smell of the roses and sat herself down on the bank under the arbor. The bank was guarded by two gargoyles, which had been sculpted by her husband. Ivory stroked their heads, knowing that her beloved had worked on them from morning to night, to surprise her on her birthday. She wanted to be with him, feel his strong arms around her, while cuddling, listening to his heartbeat, and kissing him passionately.

These were her everyday thoughts, even on the thirty-first of October. The black roses and the deep purple petunias were no longer  blooming. It was autumn; nature was preparing for winter, The leaves of the trees turned brown, red and yellow, and started to fall from the branches. In the window of multiple houses, Jack-O-Lanterns appeared. It was Halloween, Mr. and Mrs. Mars’ favourite holiday. They loved to carve pumpkins together, and always awaited the kids with plenty of sweets and candies, but they never went trick-or-treating.

That day, Ivory Mars was decorating the house with stone skulls, in which she put candles. She put them into the windows. She put up the little lights through the rose arbor, and lit candles in the gargoyles’ mouths. Her garden looked like the meadow of Asphodel. It had a special, underworldly, dark beauty.

“So many people are living in the light, under the sunshine, and now they have forgotten how beautiful the darkness can be… It’s not the same beauty that you see in everyday life.  Oh, my beautiful man… How many times did we dance in the moonlight or in the rain under this arbor… How I wish you were here….” she teared up, and smiled. “Don’t worry, my One And Only… You don’t have to wait long now… We’ll reunite soon….” she mumbled, and then lit a candle next to a painting she had made after Michael Mars came back from the war. They were young, happy and crazy in love.

“Happy birthday, My Dearest!” she bellowed and then sat in the window, scrolling the pages of the photo album, where they had put the pictures of their life.

Around midnight, she heard a soft knock on her door. She slowly rose and went to open it. In the door, a strange man stood in a black coat. Ivory couldn’t see his face. The cold October wind was howling, the branches were creaking, and there was no sign of anyone else in the street. Then there was dead silence.

“Sorry Mister, can I help you?“ asked the old lady, shivering in her clothes.

“Yes please,” said the stranger, but his voice made Ivory tear up again. She would recognise this voice anytime. She gasped and was able to speak only a minute later.

“Mi…Michael?” she started to cry.

“Yes, my Love,” answered Mr. Mars in a low, soft voice. “May I come in?”

Ivory could only nod, and moved away from the door. After her husband entered, she closed it and followed him into the living room. When Michael saw the painting of them, he smiled with tears in his eyes.

“I knew you’d never forget…” he mumbled. “May I ask you to honour me with a dance?”

Ivory was sobbing. She nodded and held her beloved’s hand. It was real, and then they stepped out to the garden. When Ivory saw what the garden looked like, she couldn’t do more than blink. The roses were blooming like never before, the spiderwebs were sparkling in the dark, and the fireflies, bats and owls were flying in every direction of the garden, or just resting on the roof, gazing at the couple.  But that wasn’t the most surprising thing: Ivory started to feel different, and as she threw a peek at her beloved, and herself, she almost fainted. She became twenty-three years old again. She got back her short, raven black hair and her slender but curvy figure. She wore the same long, black dress that she had worn long ago, as they celebrated the end of the war together.

Michael became young too. His short, dark brown hair and muscular figure made him look twenty-five again. He wore the same black suit and his army coat that he had worn that time. He held Ivory’s hand, and they started to waltz.

“I missed you so much, my Beloved,” said Mr. Mars, hugging his wife tight to his chest.

“Me too,” cried Ivory. “Promise me you won’t leave me alone again!”

“I promise you, Darling,” whispered Michael into her ear, and started to sing.

“Sunday is gloomy, my hours are slumberless. Dearest the shadows I live with are numberless.”

Ivory was sobbing with happiness. This was the song they had danced to the first time. And  when Michael sang this to her back in the day, her heart was fulfilled with joy, anytime.

“Angels have no thoughts of ever returning you, would they be angry, if I thought of joining you.”

Ivory was overwhelmed with felicity, although she knew it was her “Danse Macabre.” By the time, the clock hit midnight, they stopped the dance. They looked in each others eyes and kissed each other softly but passionately.

“You’ll never be lonely again, I promise you,” said Michael, holding Ivory’s hand. “Please come with me! But you know, that means that you.…”

“It’s okay,” interrupted Ivory. “My only desire is to be with you again. No matter what.” She smiled and walked off with her Love of her Life. By the next morning, their footsteps had been washed away by the cold November rain. At the same time, Ivory woke up in the middle of a forest, lying in the arms of her One and Only.

What Could It Be?

Lili Forgács

Lisa is a fifteen-year-old girl living in a detached house in the suburb of Manchester. She lives with her parents, but one evening they got a phone call from work and needed to leave. This meant that Lisa was left alone for the night. She wasn’t surprised and frightened at all. It wasn’t the first time, as her parents were doctors and got emergency calls very often.

She had a great evening plan: watching her favourite series on Netflix while having popcorn and chatting with her best friend on the phone. It was perfect and she had a wonderful time, but nicely and slowly she fell asleep.

She was dreaming about a Safari tour with her parents, where they saw exotic animals like elephants and giraffes. She was stroking a sunbathing cheetah, when she heard a strange noise and got up immediately. She listened carefully, but she heard only silence. “Maybe it was just in my dreams,” she thought and started to go back to sleep, when she heard it again. It came from the attic. Now she was a little bit nervous.

“What could it be? Maybe a robber? No, in case of robbers I would hear footsteps, but I’m sure that the noise isn’t the sound of footsteps. But then, what? Maybe Magna? According to legend, a giant (called Magna) lives in a forest which is really close to here, and maybe he got hungry and came here. No, it’s impossible. There is no food in the attic.”

This was her train of thought. She became more and more tense but curious at the same time. She created many alternative possibilities, but none of them seemed real.

“I should check it out. But what if I never come back again? That’s ridiculous. Lisa, you are almost sixteen, giants don’t exist and you won’t die. Pull yourself together!”

This is how she decided to find out what the source of the noise was. She grabbed a torch, put her phone into her pocket, and put on her dressing gown and slippers. She started to go upstairs. The closer and closer she came to the attic’s door, the louder and louder the sound became. She took a deep breath and opened the door. She didn’t expect the sight at all. A little bird had gotten trapped somehow in the attic and wanted to get away.

“Oh, sweetheart! I’ll help you” she said and opened the window. The bird flew away.

The next morning Lisa told her parents how bravely she had behaved and how she had saved a life. Her parents were really proud of her and gave her a kiss on her head. Since that time, every evening before going to sleep, Lisa has been checking the sky to find out if she will see the thankful little bird. Most of the time, she does.

Duke Reynaud

Dániel Dancza

Duke Reynaud grumbled to himself, “Why must I visit this godforsaken city alone?” But he already knew. After that stunt he had pulled back in the capital, the emperor wanted him punished, and dearly. He knew the story behind this place, how everyone suddenly disappeared overnight only to be slowly found, torn to pieces. He could smell death. Another body had shown up. “The king wouldn’t send anyone to help me clean it up; I’ll probably have to carry it back to the city.”

He had never actually seen the corpses himself, but had heard that they were not a friendly sight. “What could be causing this much death, and why? Why are the bodies showing up randomly, and why always in the strangest of places?” the duke wondered. Following the stench, he entered the old inn, once filled with laughter, now empty. As he ventured into the building, the doors slowly started closing; however, he didn’t seem to notice.

The stench came from the basement, so the duke followed it. “Strange, the bodies usually show up outside, at least according to the captain’s reports,” he thought. He contemplated waiting outside for a day, before returning to the capital, hoping he wouldn’t receive more punishment, but for whatever reason, he decided to wander into the basement. By the time he entered, the doors had completely shut, locking almost all the sunlight out of the room, save for a few rays seeping in through the shattered windows.

As he went deeper and deeper into the building, he saw less and less. Deciding that wandering around in darkness wasn’t favorable, he picked up a lantern and lit it. “This is bloody filthy, I should have worn some dammed gloves,” the duke said out loud. “The body better not be in too many pieces. I don’t want to get blood on this outfit.”

Around him, the shadows twisted and turned, like a dark void craving another soul. Behind Reynaud, the shadows formed a little girl, his sister, who was visiting a friend here, without her brother, who was busy trying to find a way to join the nobility. No matter how much she begged, Reynaud’s lust for power was too great, even as only a minor lord.

Even though he failed to admit it, he felt guilty for his sister’s death; he blamed himself, as he hadn’t been there to protect her. He might not say it, but the darkness knew. Something clearly moved in the darkness, even getting the dukes attention. “Who’s there? Show yourself!” he ordered. Through a little girl’s voice, the entity laughed. “Why do you care, brother? You never cared to come with me or protect me,” it said.

The duke recognized the voice. “Sister? Is that you?” he asked. The shadow said nothing, instead forming the same girl, this time in front of the now terrified duke. “Lena, oh my god, it’s you! I – I’m sorry I couldn’t protect you,” he said on the verge of tears. “You left me to die, you were too greedy to be with your sister!” the shadows cried out. “N-No Lina, you don’t understand! I wanted to improve life for both of us!” the duke wailed, dropping to his knees.

“All you caused was death, brother. Look what you’ve done!” The little girl screamed, pointing in front of Reynaud. It was her frail, weak body torn to pieces, the face barely recognizable. “No, sister! Whatever did this to you, tell me so I can destroy it and avenge you!” the duke said, now standing. “If you truly wanted to avenge me, you would have come sooner, and of your own free will, but fine, try to avenge me,” she said before disappearing, the shadows retreating to reveal a demonic creature. It stood on two thin, hooved legs, its arms were covered in razor sharp blades, with the fingers themselves being great claws. It growled at Reynaud, who unsheathed a small dagger, ready for a bloody battle.

He made the first move and swung at it, hoping to kill it quickly before it had a chance to end him, but the beast was faster; shifting to the side, it slashed his side with one of the many blades protruding from its arm.  The duke’s eyes went dark; hand trembling, he looked at his dagger, which now looked like a severed arm. Letting out what sounded like a deep laugh, the beast slinked into the shadows, which transformed into walls covered in gore, and a podium appeared in front of him. Lena’s head was sitting on it. The last thing he heard was the beast letting out a howl of victory, stabbing him through the heart with one of its clawed hands.

The next day, a messenger arrived to tell Reynaud that he was allowed back in the city. All he found was his corpse, dismantled, pieces hanging above the inn’s door, still closed shut.

The Knife

Gergő Busa

At military camp everyone had a knife, but my friend thought it would be a good idea to carve himself a wooden one. So he did. After a few days he was ready, everything seemed fine, but soon this kid (Ferenc) came and accused Robert of stealing his wooden knife. Of course I believed in Robert’s innocence, but there was that gnawing feeling at the back of my neck, what if he is a thief.

Anyways we (me, Robert, and our friends) shrugged him off. After some time I got annoyed and asked around about Ferenc’s knife.

Well, who would have thought it: he DID have a knife (the Staff Sergeant had carved it for him in a day), but he used it inappropriately (he was waving it around carelessly), so the corporal took it, broke it in half, and threw the pieces in the woods. (Now my ambivalence was gone.)

A day later he came back while we were eating and accused Robert again. But now we confronted him:

F – Hey you should give my knife back now!

R –  But wasn’t your knife taken, broken and thrown away?

F – Yes! I m-m-mean no!

Friend – Stop, just stop.

F – (Incomprehensible speaking.)

Then he pointed out the letter F in the knife (apparently they had a common first letter in their names).

After this he went away. Now you might be thinking it is over, but you are wrong. You see, he came back during the night and tried to steal it from Robert’s chest. But Robert thought of this and wasn’t sleeping; he was holding his boots and waiting for the right time to strike. Ferenc came, crouched down to grab Robert’s chest, and SMACK.

Robert struck him so hard he fell back and ran away. He never bothered us after that.

And now you are right. The story has come to an end.

Note: This tale is based on real events, but certain details, including the names, have been changed.

The Gift That Changed a Life

Áron Antal

Mr. Able was a proud citizen of Sanctuary; he was a friendly fellow, liked by everyone in town. He was a nice old man, polite and calm, did no harm to anyone in his life, and was totally healthy both mentally and physically, despite his age. He had only one son, who lived in California, a businessman, so much so that he hadn’t been able to visit in years. He wasn’t at Mrs. Able’s burial. She died five years previously, on the thirteenth of July, from a heart attack caused by a wild night-motorbike-rider, whose exhaust was so loud that it caused Mrs. Able’s end. That was the reason that Mr. Able hated bikers so much. He never liked them, even when he was young, it wasn’t his style; but he started hating them more when the Japanese sportbikes invaded America with their four-row engines and fancy paint jobs. These bikes were super appealing for the youngsters, who put loud exhausts on them and thought that the road was their racetrack. And he downright hated them since his wife had died from one of them.

He was about to turn seventy-five the next day, on the thirteenth of July.

– Five years have passed in loneliness – he thought. – My only wish is that my son could visit me. I haven’t seen him in the past seven years. He couldn’t even come to his mother’s burial; he was too busy. And since then I haven’t spoken a word with him. How could his job be more important than his mother’s burial? But perhaps I should forgive him. He was trying to establish his life. At that time he found himself a girl. I wonder what happened with their relationship? But since our argument we haven’t exchanged a word. I don’t even know that he can forgive me.

With these thoughts in mind, he fell asleep in his bed.

In the morning, he woke to the sound of someone ringing the doorbell. He put on his bathrobe, went to the door, and opened it. To his biggest surprise, instead of the postman, he saw his son.

– Father! I would like to apologize for how I behaved and what a jerk I have been throughout all these years! Please forgive me, for mom’s sake!

– Oh son, I will!, I will! – cried out Mr. Able in tears.

– You don’t know what a relief it is for me to hear that!

– I know it.

– Also, happy birthday, dad.

–Thanks, son. Have you…

– Yes I have visited mom, and said a proper goodbye to her. I hope that she will forgive me as well.

– I’m sure she has forgiven you already. But come on in!

They talked all the day through, about Shaun’s business, life, and about how he was going to marry his girlfriend the next summer.

– I’m so glad to hear that! I always know you would find the perfect one one day.

– Oh, I almost forgot! – said Shaun.

– Forgot what exactly? – asked Mr. Able.

– Your birthday present! Come out, it’s in my van.

They walked out to the street where Shaun’s business van was parking. When he opened the back door, Mr. Able was speechless. Inside the van was a vintage motorbike. But when Mr. Able was finally able to get a word out, his son got a phone call.

– Sorry, dad, but I have to go now, it’s very important, but I’ll come back as soon as possible – he said, pulled out the bike from the van, hugged his father, and drove away.

Mr. Able was standing, wordless. His son had given him the one thing he disliked the most.

– I shall kill what killed my wife, he thought, walked to his garage, took a gas canister and a lighter, and approached the motorbike. But when he was about to pour gasoline on it and burn it, he realised that his son did not know the circumstances of how his mother died, and it was a present after all, so he decided to keep it. He put it into his garage and tried to forget about it.

One month later, Mr. Able realised that he had a motorbike, and started thinking. After an hour or so, he came to a realization about why he never liked the riders; he actually did like them once upon a time. He remembered a day that he had long forgotten: he was standing by a motorbike shop with his friends in 1963, staring at a special limited Hungarian model: Pannonia MT63 motocross, which was a rare Hungarian import, said to be more reliable than any Harley-Davidson, sold with T1 models of the same trade. They talked about how from their saved money they would all buy one of these (they were way cheaper than other brands), but fate thought otherwise. The next day, his father’s station wagon broke down, which he used to commute to the next town to earn money for his family, and they had just renovated their house, so they had very little savings. Mr. Able thought he would help his family out, so he gave all his savings, the fruit of years of hard work, to his parents to repair his father’s car. This way he never had the chance to buy his dream, and he became envious of his friends, since they had such great adventures in which he could not take part. And this was the origin of his hatred of the bikers.

– Why are negative memories more likely to stay in the mind? – he thought. He became delighted and felt different. He went out to the garage and realised, just then, that his son had bought him his dream from the far past: a Pannonia MT63 motorbike.

– How could that have happened? I never told him about this ever! He became super excited and sat on the bike. It had a comfortable seat, a light suspension, and a lifted exhaust.

– What are you waiting for, dad? – asked Shaun, who  had just arrived back. – Take it for a ride!

Mr. Able hesitated a bit, but decided that now was the time to make up for the past. He stood up and kicked the kickstarter. The engine revved up on that characteristic two-stroke sound. He felt super nostalgic, pulled the clutch, put the transmission into first gear, and drove away towards the horizon full of joy.

This even changed his life through his new attitude toward riders. He still did not like the loud motorcycles, but he made new friends due to his new hobby and rode his bike almost every day, sometimes with his friends, whose relationship waved goodbye to the lonely days. All of this was made possible by his son, and he couldn’t thank him enough. He felt a bit guilty that he had become a rider, like the one who had caused his wife to die, but he thought that if Mrs. Able could be with him, she would be proud of her handsome husband for having a nice hobby at his age. And with these delightful thoughts he rode his bike and commuted with it everywhere, visited his son regularly, and rode for many years and more, always thinking: how an “unintended” present can change a life.

Grandpa’s Stories

Áron Antal

One sunny afternoon, my mother told me to go to my grandparents’ to ask them for some meat to bring home. They lived on the outskirts of the city, and I went with my scooter. When I arrived, my grandma opened the gate for me, and I parked in the garden. My grandpa had just stepped out of the house and started to speak to me. My grandparents’ garden was huge, and they grew crops and fruits in it for the family.

– Aaron, how are you?

– Fine grandpa, fine.

– Ya see my garden? See the potatoes? Look at them! Last year, you remember how big they grew? We could barely pull them out, they were so huge.

– Yeh grandpa, they were quite huge, but….

– Now, look at the tomatoes, how beautiful they are! They were so delicious! See how many beans I grew. There will be like a hundred kilos of them. And the apples, well, they’re the best in town, aren’t they?

– Yes, yes. – I said – and how are you?

– Fine, Aaron, time passes so fast, look at you how much you have grown.

– I don’t think I grew so much in one week, but if you say….

– Ya know, you always remind me of the times when I was young, I looked much like you back then. Me and my friends went to Moscow when we were in fourth grade in secondary school. We went there by train and it took almost a week to go there and back. I enjoyed it so much. The underground metros, they were so huge; the ceiling was like fifteen meters high, you could fit a town into there, and those majestic statues… But the place where we stayed… That was a bit nasty.

– I know, grandpa, you told me these stories like a hundred times and….

– You see, the apartment was full of roaches, literally full. They were everywhere. One night we stayed up and slapped them with our slippers. We killed a few hundred, but the next day they were back, hehe…

– I came for meat, grandpa….

– When I was young, like your little sister, me and my family used to live on a farm. But when the Cooperative took our land, my father decided to become a deliverer. We bought a wagon, because the Soviets gave us two of their horses in exchange for some food and alcohol, and we started the business. I helped my dad so much that I could barely stay awake at the end of the day.

– But weren’t you at school at the….

– We delivered almost everything: crops, coal, firewood etc. There were days when we went to twenty different places to deliver something. Once when my father drank too much, I was driving the wagon when I saw a piece of money on the pavement: it was a fifty-forint note! At the time when a scoop of ice cream was 1 forint. It was big money. But an old man on the other side saw it as well, so I fastened the wagon, jumped off of it, grabbed the note and jumped back in a mere second. The old man didn’t even know what had just happened! Ya know, school was much harder to get to then it is now. You see, when it was winter, sometimes the snow was a meter high and the temperature was freezing cold. My mother boiled potatoes when I was about to leave, and we put it in my pocket, so my hands stayed warm. Glove and snack for the trip. Very practical.

– It is, but I….

– Also we had cows and my mother made dairy products of them. But we had more than we needed, much much more, so we went to the local market to sell them. Sometimes me and my mother went to the Szolnok market by train to sell these products. It was astonishing for me back then. The streets were full of beautiful automobiles, there were huge crowds. At the market I saw ladies whose nails were painted and lips covered in lipstick. At the time it was a big deal, and I hadn’t seen anyone in our village do the same, mainly because it was very expensive to buy those things back then. And the smell, perfume everywhere! Of course that was even more unaffordable for the average person.

– I really don’t want to interrupt you grandpa, but I really have to go now, ’cause you know, I am err…. going to have a err… digitaal lesson. But I really enjoyed listening to your stories as always.

– You’re such a good listener, Aaron, a very good one indeed. Anyway, here is the meat.

I put it onto my scooter, waved goodbye, and drove away.

– It is always good to hear these stories – I thought – even though I think a lot of them are a bit tall, but there’s nobody to prove that. And maybe the honest “lying” makes them all the more enjoyable.


Áron Antal

On a cold winter day, me and my father started a conversation; we started talking about the old days, when my grandpa and his family lived in socialist Hungary: how they lived, what they did for amusement, how my grandpa earned money. My father began to tell a story about grandpa and what he did for a living:

– He worked hard in the TSZ, until he made his way up the ladder and became a leader, but when he was blamed by the government for things he never did, he had to leave and find a new way to provide for his family. So he thought it would be a good idea to buy bees and start producing honey. It turned out so well that in two years he had 200 families of bees, and could maintain his family, and had enough profit to buy a motorbike, with which he could visit the bees regularly. But when the 90s came and he could buy land for himself, he stopped working with the bees and concentrated on agricultural activities.

– And what happened to his motorbike? – I asked.

– He put it in our first storage warehouse.

– And is it there now?

– I think so.

– Can we bring it home for me? Please.

– Okay.

The next morning, we went out to the very outskirts of town, to my father’s yard, entered the warehouse, and really found it. It was overwhelming to hold my grandfather’s heritage in my hand. And on that very day, I got “infected” with an incurable disease: mechanic mania. It is a strange illness mixed with a bit of addiction. The patient renovates a motor, but while doing so, he buys another. Then he buys and sells, takes some apart, and feels splendid while doing so; he thinks: what a hobby! But after a couple of years, he becomes obsessed and spends every free minute with his business, which grows and grows until the point of no return. At least that was the situation with me.

Since the recovery of my grandfather’s old bike, almost four years had passed. I was feeling very proud of what I had achieved, fabulous in fact. But I realised that my hobby, which I really like, had become my job about a year ago. I started feeling ambivalent about my hobby, since I spent so much time with it. Around that time, I started wondering about the day when I would meet that special one. At that point I realised what I had done. I had almost cheated on someone; my hobby. I then realised that it was my life, my partner. It horrified me, and made me think about giving up this damn thing, and I settled.

A year ago, when my “addiction” reached a peak, there were days when I spent fourteen hours tweaking up bikes, couldn’t sleep, because of the thoughts about my projects. And now I see that I left the border far behind with this hobby. How could I have been so blind?

Since then, my life has taken a turn. I do much less work with my bikes, and concentrate on the real life going around me. Now I only ride my bikes, and do one, maybe two hours of work a day. My perspective has totally changed, and I am very close to curing my “addiction,” which has mostly faded away by now, along with my obsession, thanks to the encouragement and help of my family and my own consciousness. Now I have much more time for maintaining relationships with my family and friends. Now I see that my life is starting to change, getting back on the track of a positive future for myself and the ones I love, with me having a fun, part-time hobby, not an addiction.