I used to be a normal human being like you, but not too long ago a good friend of mine betrayed me and told a big secret of mine to the entire school, Basically I found this mobile phone on the floor after physical education and took it with me since no one was around apparently the owner of phone wanted it back and called the phone through his other phone, I shouted e.t phone home into the phone and changed the sim so he couldn't call back. My friend told this guy that I had his phone and he came after me with 3 of his friends carrying crowbars, earlier that day I accidentally broke the phone by letting it drop on the concrete floor. So the guy found me and asked for the phone, I gave it to him and he got pissed of at me, and started hitting me with the crowbar, one of his mates dropped me on the floor and they came at me with their feet, knuckles everything, my friend was looking at me from far away and shouted, you stole the phone you ****ing deserved this man, then when they were done kicking and punching me, the guy whose phone was broken, sniffed something I don't know what it was but he went crazy, he started shaking and drooling and came towards me with his crowbar, he took the sharp edge and slowly ripped my skin off, he kept going while his mates asked him stop this man its ****ed up, he whipped his crowbar against his own mates knocking them out, and then knocked my face in too. Everything went black I thought I was dead, but when I came to I was in a white room, my hoyo was standing next to me crying JAMAL JAMAL, can you hear me JAMAL, I said "is this real life?" hoyo cried and hugged me,
After 2 weeks I finally recovered but my face was in such ruin I could barely recognize myself in the mirror, so when I returned to high school they called me the boy with the lost face, my face was gone, and I couldn't find it back, it had left this world and left me behind. I saw the guy who smashed my head in he was on a photo where it stated that he was take to a juvenile placement for gross violence and drug possession. Later that week I also saw my friend who betrayed me, he told me I deserved it, I deserved to get my face ripped off like a filthy swine. I didn't understand how he could hate me so much just for stealing a phone. He was no longer my friend I detested him. I felt angry, almost suicidal but I knew that life was cruel I should endure it. after walking around I saw a shop where they sold masks and such. I saw this beautiful pearly white mask, it looked like it was meant for me, the shop owner told me "young man you who have lost a face are you here on a odyssey to obtain a new face? I told her no, I have no face and don't need one any more, I'll remain voiceless like the children of Palestine, she said then here I shall hand you a mask reflecting the voices of the voiceless may you be their ambassador and she handed me a box clad in black veil, inside the box was a white face, a white mask she called this mask phantom, I held the mask high, and the mask held me, I wore it over my melted skin and we became one, I am no longer a ghost I am a Phantom.
It was morning I woke up as usual, brushed my teeth as usual, and realized as usual that I didn't have any teeth ever since I became a phantom meaning I was no longer a singular entity but a collection of voices so I should refer to myself as us. We decided to act under the cover of Jamal Abdisalam so to not cause worry to his hoyo, she was his everything, and that meant she was not allowed to know that Jamal no longer existed he was merely a voice for the voiceless. We ate breakfast as usual, and the most vocal of us spoke. "Voice number 1; I don't like cheerios why can't we eat weetabix!?", He was one of the voiceless, there were 5 regular voices who constantly spoke inside Jamal's head they were the previous owners of the mask and through the mask Jamal could speak with them. After we finished breakfast it was time for school, the body was still reluctant to return as it was a place of fear for Jamal.
it was a sunny morning, barely any clouds in the sky resulting in a over heated bus, we sat in the back of the bus to prevent any suspicion considering we already stood out enough wearing a white featureless mask with only holes for eyes. Many eyes stared, one especially stood out, they were the eyes of a somali man named Hashim, I remember him from the event that occurred 2 months ago where the recently rising tusbax gang had a incident with the Mafia gangs situated in New York, I was surprised why would a gang member be in a commoners bus, he stood up and started walking towards the back of the bus, it was too late when I realized he was walking towards me and sat down in front of me. He was carefully caressing the beads on his tusbax and said to me, I know what you are, but you don't know who and why I am here. He moved his hand into one of many pockets in his jacket and pulled out a card, on it there were details of a location. When I was done reading I noticed there was no sign of Hashim any more and the bus stopped.
Chapter 3; The Bewildering
The doors of the bus expanded and let in a spectrum of rays, perhaps one too many for it was uncomfortably bright, I stepped out but had to hold my hands over the suns glare, maybe it was for the best that it was so bright for it covered the faces of others too, but by covering the sun I allowed myself to see everyone again and normally would say it was a embarrassing experience, but why would a mask be embarrassed, a mask does not hold emotions after all such a thing would be ridiculous, perhaps even insane!? The school was a large building, a very concrete one built after world war two when brutalism was a popular means of architecture, it was supposedly meant to symbolize strength and masculinity but to me it merely appeared like a shell to hide away the fear felt by many when they came to realize that death comes to all of us. And that no matter what fortune you wield that it will not persuade the angel of death by any means for he does not crave material wealth. I entered the building, the interior was very glossy as is typically of a high school in new york and was greeted by my little brother Guled, he was always the strongest in our family but also the least intelligent although he did have a talent for puzzles and riddles. He asked me how I was feeling, ignoring the primary question that was why I was wearing a mask. And I told him we were fine, he appeared surprised but let it go assuming it was just a grammatical error, that I accidentally replaced I by we. He then told me of how joyed hoyo was, that she was calling family telling them of my good fortune, I was alive and well, but she didn't tell them of the face, the lack of face. And he left disappearing into the opposite corridor to attend his lessons like the good child he was.
It was late afternoon when I attended my last lesson, one I shared with the friends of Him, Him who had stolen my face, but I already forgave the child, he was merely a victim of himself, I looked into his family and saw that his father was a abusive alcoholic and a ferocious wife beater, she had already lost one child to him when he speared her abdomen with his shoe, I wasn't surprised when she didn't press charges it is a common incident for women to accept their husbands violence out of fear of being abandoned, sadly she was on the uglier end of that spectrum, the son was also abused, specifically verbal abuse, his father constantly told him how he was worth nothing, even less than the dirt under his shoes. The son started with cannabis at first and slowly climbed up to Cocaine, and to fuel his drug abuse he often stole from neighbouring students, telling them that the money was for protection when it was for offense. But it wasn't enough, soon enough their funds depleted and he needed more money, and he descended into the surface of the underworld of New York.
The lesson ended but not peacefully unlike the other lessons that day, the students approached me and asked why I was wearing a mask, and I answered them deceitfully but without bad intent that it was to hide my injuries and to prevent airborne infections which openly would affect me due to open scars and such. They appeared to accept this. It was on my way home that I stumbled, lights flashed brightly in front of my eyes, and I could see a desert landscape, a vague horizon, which separated vermilion sky from beige soil. And the lights disappeared, sweat seemed to have build up on my face, after all it was a frightening experience, a fragment of a dream experienced whilst awake was very uncommon without the use of hallucinogens such as magic mushrooms. And I was home, awfully tired I walked up the stairs until my hoyo asked me if everything was al right. I responded slowly;" Everything is going fine, how are you hoyo?", she responded normally; "I'm okay, you should know that I'm always open to talk with Jamal" And I nodded at her while stepping up the stairs, it is a very warm thing such a close relationship with your mother spoke Alvares, he was a prominent voice, he told me he used to a locksmith in the city of Barcelona until he died of a heart attack while driving. And now he was one of many voices in my head. His mother was a beloved baker, she used to make fresh bread every morning int he streets of Carrer De Badal, the sweet musky aroma of her morning bread calmed the hearts of many Spaniards as they went on their ways to work, until one sad morning a crazed driver crashed into her glass windowsill and broke her spine. Alvarez told me she no longer made bread and wished for death, and with that he no longer spoke with his mother. He spoke of many things, his first love, his last, his children and their children.
When I appeared at my room, the fatigue took over my body, and I fell into my bed eyes closed. And the Vermilion sky appeared once again.