Epilogue, or the Bear, the Wolf, and the Man In the Long Black Coat by A. N. Gretly

​It all comes down to the three; the Bear, the Wolf, and the Man In the Long Black Coat. I have thought about it time and time again, during periods of deep brooding as a result of constant insomnia, or bouts of loneliness. This constant battle of the mind, thoughts that run and hide, shivering or in shellshock. Paralysed by the actions of the enemy. Those sly buggers that undergo guerrilla warfare against the innocent and the docile. And I hereby call the security council for a vote that would decide the fate of my humanity. And I hereby elect myself as head of said council. And I hereby unanimously vote for an immediate ceasefire.  And I hereby vote to veto said vote. And I hereby vote for the ending of this council, for I am the enemy.
I sit back and watch it all go to hell.

“He was the Bear King,” I thought “And now look at him!”

I can see blisters on the fabric of this endless night. I can see stretchmarks on my old soul. I howl at the moon as I grind ancient books into a fine powder. I am king and beggar. But then again, what is the point of knowing that the story has already been written. Let them put down their pens, let the ink dry. Let those who are lost wander, tonight and forever. This infinite forest of the mind. The howls and the hoots and the growls keep them company. I snort the hearts of every tree in this forest, and dive off the cliff once more.

“See him run ahead of the pack,” Someone says “What pride!”

And I look yet again when I have been asked a million times not to. He is blind but he sees. The man knows, the man knows. He knows that I am looking, but I am never sure. This constant presence, always. He lights a handrolled cigarette, and for a moment, just for a mere moment, I see the face. That face, with deep valleys running here and there from old age, and those deep wells for eyes. Dear me, what fright. But I please myself by looking, the fear tugging at my insides. He tips his hat and walks away.

To hell with him, I say. To hell with me, dear me. But I know that the silence will reach into my mouth, and touch my heart with its cold fingers. And I stand in the middle of the middle of the m-middle. And I look up and see the stars shimmer and wink, celestial and proud. And I try to swallow but my throat is dry. And I try to speak but I have forgotten my mother’s tongue. And I hear the troops marching. And I hear the sounds of their war drum syncing with the beats of my heart. And I hear them sing their songs of freedom and national pride. And I hear them reassuring me that they will be my salvation. And I understand their words but the masks are cheaply made, and the blood on their hands seeps through the fabric of their gloves. And I know by now that the stage has been set, and the bear is now a rug, and the wolf is a luxurious coat, and only the Man In the Long Black Coat remains, forevermore.

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About Ahmed Gretly

Ahmed Nader Gretly. Construction/Site Engineer, fiction writer, poet, psychopath, researcher, a book addict, and a daydreamer from Cairo, Egypt. Currently doing Construction Project Management, MSc, at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh.
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