Diary of a Genocide
The youth ascends the stairs that, like a snake, weave their way through the garden that clings to the hill's side. In his hands he grips the silvered tray, richly engraved with designs and ornamentation from lands the boy has only imagined. Upon the platter lies a single vellum envelope, his task it is to deliver into his Master's hands. Gardenias, white as the snow that crowned the encircling mountains, line the stairwell path like an honour guard, as if their scent alone would be enough to make the defences of the Royal Hill Station inpenetrable. With one last bound, he leaps upon the veranda of Luncheon House No. 3, with a start stopping and sliding over the veneered planking as the suppressed memory that the next few minutes will be…distinctly uncomfortable flood back. The door of the hill house is open, the interior of the single room shrouded in darkness, a bluish wisp of sweet smoke winding skyward from within. With faltering steps, the youth proceeds to the doorstep and freezes again….there upon a simple army cot lies his Master, naked, ancient flesh failing to cling completely to a frail frame, a pile of richly carved pipes discarded in an anarchically on the floor. The Master's head is bald, save the few strands stronger than their fellows at resisting the constant rubbing of the powdered whig, which too has been discarded onto the floor, where it lies like some sleeping terrier. The Master stirs….
"Are….you an assassin?"
The nervous youth, enshrouded in the light that spills through the doorframe, is startled and takes a step back.
"No my Lord, it is only a simple Houseboy of your staff. I…I am here to deliver your daily correspondence."
With considerable effort the Master props himself up. Eyes squint at the boy balking at the doorway.
"Yes…yes…I have seen you before. Come in, come in….do not be afraid. How many letters do I have today, boy? Was it difficult to carry the weight of them up the mountainside?"
On the cue the youth raises the silvered tray and, with bowed head, moves ceremoniously towards his Master. At the foot of the cot he stops, and with a flourish lowers the tray to the level of the Masters eyes. Voice cracking, he delivers the unfortunate news: "There is only one, my Lord."
"One?" the Master booms then, with a whisper and frail fingers stroking a hint of chin, "Only one…."
The boy remains still, head bowed, tray proffered. One misstep now will trigger a whipping, or worse.
"They are afraid, boy. Yes, afraid. Afraid of what I may say, the truth I might reveal in a manner that spares no diplomacy. Do you know what they call me, boy? The Great Orator. Renowned I am, renowned…all over the world. A Fool it is that tries to match wits with me…."
The Master says no more for many minutes, his fingers wandering from his chin to nervously pick at some imaginary scrap caught between tooth and gum. The boy remains still, but terror seizes him and his body trembles of its own accord. As if the fear is contagious, the Master too begins to quietly shake and sob.
"Where is my son?" he says through a coarse whisper.
"Where is my son? I must speak with him."
As a toddler might, the Master looks up expectantly at the boy, who is finally afforded the chance to straighten. With splayed fingers, each tipped with claw-like nails that have not been clipped in many months, the Master reaches out and grips the youth's arm.
"My son…where is he?"
"He…he…is at rehearsals, my Lord, for his latest play…"
Out of the darkness a hand shoots forth, signalling the boy to silence. It is the Bodyguard, who has stood silently in the shadows. Mouthing wordlessly he cues the boy on the proper response. The boy, concentrating profusely, repeats it out loud.
"My Lord...your son...is...at..rehearsals...with..with..the Army. Yes, he is out with the Army, and they are rehearsing their battle formations."
"CHRISTIAN…..MY BOY! Yes! A hero I've raised. He'll do it, he'll restore our fortunes. I should not have doubted some of it would rub off on him. The Lion! The Lion of India! ME! Not that imposter from Bundelkhand! I AM A ALEXANDER'S HEIR AND SO IS MY SON!"
The Master returns to silence and to digging at the imaginary annoyance in his gums. Minutes pass and the quiet sobbing visits again.
"I did it for Christian...yes, for him. They won't call HIM a Butcher's son. I was going to be a man of peace….yes…peace. My last, great act. A concordat of two worlds. Well….their world and the proper Volk of this. Strange lot though, those Barsoomies. Ruined now. The jealousy of a small and petty man. Yu-shen...my FRIEND. Who is it from?"
"The letter? Who is it from?" The youth looks down at the vellum enveloped letter. The script that marks it is flowing and cursive, and in a language not his native tongue, but he has been taught, and he manages to make out the European script.
"My Lord, the letter is from a Captain...Ultio...Persequor."
"Persequor!?" The Master's eyes wander off into the distance. Voice rasping: "He overplays his hand. Yes…he overplays his hand by far. I… I…have nothing for him today…no…nothing."
Climbing off of the cot, the Master attempts to stand on his feet, but his body betrays him. The Bodyguard rushes to his side, catching the frame ravished by age.
"Read it, boy."
The youth stands still at first and then, slowly, places the silvered platter by his pinson-covereed feet and picks up the envelope. Despite his trembling, he breaks the seal easily, and after a moments gathering of courage, plucks the letter within out. Holding it up to the light of the doorway, he silently reads the letter's contents so that he may elucidate it his Master perfectly. But something strikes the boy as wrong. He lowers the letter to his side and begins to back up once more.
"What is it, boy? Is it long?"
"No my Lord. It is but a single line."
"Well? Out with it! What does it say?"
"...Von Hessen, your services are no longer required."
Boy: Rahul Gupta
Master: Klaus Kinski
Bodyguard: Amrish Puri