Pass The Parcel

Entry by: writerYNKGHTYLDE

24th December 2015
BRIGHT white lights shone down from above. He could just about make out a figure standing over him.
A woman's head looked into his eyes. Checked they weren't blinking. She reached into the man's trouser pocket. Pulled out a donor card. Handed it to the woman next to her
Then she turned to those standing around her. "Pass the parcel please," she said. A figure next to her, another woman, picked a small, beautifully in-laid, wooden box, held it in the palm of her hands, and carefully passed it to the woman.
"Actually, leave it there on the side for a moment. I'll just remove the other one first," she said. Then she turned, lifted her arm, and thrust a knife deep into the man's chest.
He felt nothing.
He could see the woman carving now, thrusting her arm up and down, creating a hole in his chest. There was no pain. No blood.
Then accompanied by a deep slurping sound the female surgeon removed the man's heart and placed it on a cream-coloured muslin on the side.
"One heart, one careful owner, unused, good as new," she said, holding up the still-beating organ like some prized trophy. "That can go to someone more deserving now this old geezer has reached 50 and obviously has no use for it.
"Pass me the other parcel now please," she said. The same woman as before opened up the lid of the box, and clasped the jumping, jerking, metal contraption in her hands.
It was all springs, and coils, leaping about in all shapes and all directions. The man on the operating table instantly thought of playing with a Slinky on the stairs at his parents' home. He could remember the feel of the carpet beneath his legs, see its green and black pattern as vividly as if it was yesterday, rolling the Slinky all the way down the steps to the giant Christmas tree in the hall.
"Keep your hands firmly clasped around it," the surgeon said, "it's very delicate, intricate Swiss workings, this is pioneering work we're doing here folks."
When the woman unwrapped it fully the man on the slab could make out it was a compass. Only it had just the one symbol on it, a giant 'N', and a big red arrow.
Again the surgeon turned with a swivel and shoved the compass deep into the hole where the man's heart had been. She pushed down hard, while the other female medic bent over to stitch it up.
Suddenly the man was aware of it pulsing, clicking, flickering to one side, then the other, before settling down and gently clicking from side to side like a metronome.
The surgeon dimmed the lights. "Over to you, now Ailis".
The female medic moved to the man's side, bent down over him revealing deep blue eyes, the colour of the warmest ocean. She pulled out a huge syringe. Then she dragged over a silver trolley with seven enormous vials of colour.
Each one was different. Red, yellow, green, blue, violet, orange and indigo.
She plunged the point of the syringe into the red, and drew back as much of the liquid as she could, then jabbed the needle straight into the man's arm.
He could feel the warmth as the liquid started to flow around his body.
She repeated the process, with each of the seven colours. By the end he was drowsy, brimful of colour which was bursting out of every blood vessel, and seeing stars as he closed his eyes.
When he woke up, a third medic was kneeling by his hands. She was wearing a full headscarf, and all he could see was a single ginger curl creeping out by the back of her neck, and below her scarf piercing green eyes.
She was rubbing his hands with a white cloth stained with the blackest of ink. She massaged each of his fingers one by one. And rubbed the palms and backs of his hands with the ink until it faded into his skin, traces just about visible along the rivers of lines across his hands. Finally she leant over him and painstakingly painted the first nail on his right hand.
"That's all folks. We're all done," said the surgeon. "Let's give him a good send off."
On cue about a dozen medics gathered around the bed, the surgeon grabbed the scalpel as if she was holding a microphone and they all burst into Queen's "Find Me Somebody to Love."


Jack woke up in a cold sweat.
He turned in the bed. No-one was next to him.
December 24, 2015. Exactly a year since his wife died.
A year since he'd seen the world in black and white, mostly black,
A year since he'd got writer's block. Not able to write a word.
A year since all the music he heard was flat.
A year since he was completely lost.


Christmas Morning, 2015.
Jack staggered downstairs.
He saw the record sleeves scattered on the floor.
"Queen's Greatest Hits," "Mama, Genesis," "This Is The Sea, The Waterboys."
He saw the empty bottle of red wine. Chateauneuf, Mont Redon, 1971. He'd bought that with his dad when they visited the vineyard one summer holiday. It had laid untouched for all that time. But his dad was dead. Jack had obviously decided there was no point standing on ceremony, no-one to share it with, to hell with it, he might as well open it. He couldn't remember having a single sip.


New Year's Day 2016.
Jack sat at the kitchen table. He stretched his shoulders, his arms, his legs. He could feel his body clanking into action. It felt almost mechanical. Like he'd got a Meccano body for Christmas.
Suddenly he had itchy feet.
He wanted to go somewhere. He walked out of the house. His mind wanted to head south. But the breeze wouldn't let him. Pushed his body back. Took his breath away. He gave in to the weather, and his heart, and headed north instead, he was being pushed along now, almost running, it brought a smile to his face.
That night Jack White logged on to the internet and booked a trip to the most northerly music festival he could find.


May 1, 2016. Jack's plane touched down at Sumburgh on the Shetland Isles.
He'd hired a car and headed up the coast road to Cunningsburgh.
The sea crashed into the rocks on the right as he drove.
This was spectacular scenery. He'd driven the Amalfi Coast, caught a train across Europe, Canada and America, but this was every bit as amazing a landscape. Starkly different. No trees. No gentle rolling fields. Just sea and rock. Nature in the raw.
Jack swung his car into the rough gravel car park next to the Cunningsburgh store and petrol station, which doubled up as the community hub for everything from supermarket to post office.
"Over for the folk festival are you Jack?" said Linda, from behind the till.
"Er, yes," he replied, his concentration doubly distracted by both emptying his shopping basket, and the postcard he had noticed on the noticeboard.
"Surround yourselves with those who want you to progress. Positive thinking art classes, Gord, Cunningsburgh, Tel 2235."
"Someone new to the village?" said Jack.
"Aye," replied Linda. "An artist from the mainland. Been here almost a year now. In her early 50s I'd say. People seem to like her. She's fitted in well with the locals."
Jack made a mental note of the number and headed for the door.


"That's some view," said Jack.
He was standing in front of a giant picture window.
He was in the home of artist Violet Green.
Her lounge was upstairs, with a floor to ceiling window, to take advantage of the incredible panorama, looking south over the crofts to Aithsetter harbour, across to the island of Mousa, and out to the wild ocean beyond.
The incredible vista all set beneath a dramatic big sky, bursting with showers, alternating between blinding sunlight and dark, thunderous downpours.
"If I lived here I'd spend all my time standing here, staring out of this window. I'd never tire of that view," said Jack.
"Well I'll let you into a secret Jack White, you'd be wasting your time. You'd be spending the rest of your life looking in the wrong direction," said Violet who was busy preparing her canvas.
She continued. "Do you mind if I ask you a personal question?"
"No, fire away," said Jack.
"Have you ever looked into someone's eyes. I mean really looked into them. So you can see their heart, their soul."
Jack looked down. Paused. He didn't know how to reply. " Not really."
"Can I ask you why not?"
Again he hesitated. "Well, er, I'd be afraid I'd open myself up to pain. I prefer to be distracted, keep looking away," and he looked again out of the big window.
"Well let me tell you Jack White that if you keep looking at the landscape you'll only ever find loneliness and solitude. You need to pluck up the courage to pick up your paintbrush, or your pen, whichever you prefer, and start painting or describing people. You might be surprised what you find."
"Jack looked at Violet now, as she sat behind the canvas, all the colours of paint on her palette, and he looked into her eyes. He felt like he'd dived into a brilliant blue ocean.
Then he noticed all around the room, coming from the sky over Mousa, the reflections of a dazzling rainbow.


Jack picked up his pen. He sat at the back of the hall in the music festival's HQ at Isleburgh in Lerwick.
It was 4.49am. Sunrise. He'd just heard the best music session in his life, and he needed to get the words down before the moment was lost. The club was just about to close for the night.
"You'll have to do that outside Jack. We close at 5am," said the doorman.
"Ok, just give me a minute," he replied. In that sixty seconds he wrote down the first words that came into his mind. His pen was on fire. He'd use that to build his story later.
The doorman gave him his final prompt.
Jack headed for the door and the dawn light.
Just as he got to the exit, a woman on the door with long, curly ginger hair and beautiful green eyes called him back.
"Mr White," she said. "A woman left this parcel for you at the door earlier." It was addressed to Mr J.White, author, Isleburgh Centre, King Harald Street, Lerwick, Shetland, ZE1 0EQ.
"I promised I'd pass it on to you."
He hurriedly ripped it open to find a compass, and a street map of the very spot on which he stood.
Written in jet black ink, a simple message.
"You've finally found your place, found the way to your soul, now pass it on..."