Meridian – Story of Nitzam

LP > Nitzam > Short story > Jack Bartrop > Brighton

Demystifying the legend of Nitzam through a eight track concept album and accompanying short story.

As cars sped back and forth between Forest Row and Furnace Wood below, children walked clutching the hands of their parents, crossing the tall bridge leading to the Kings Centre. Safely on the other side, the kin took a sharp turn towards the leisure centre’s chlorine baths. In the other direction stood a shadowed figure crouched inside the frame of shallow metal half-pipe.

 

On the fourth day of September, the second day of following the end of the school summer holidays, the rain poured, keeping the figure’s surroundings deserted. Like many times before, the dark shape in the skatepark was alone.

 

The past weeks saw days in which the mysterious character known as Nitzam would stretch out in the sun. With his shadow always by his side, Nitzam watched the boys skating by, day after day, growing taller, testing their physical limits and performing plays they would recite as oldest friends. They were days to remember for many. But as sure as the sun would set, every evening Nitzam would retreat back inside the half-pipe frame, seemingly unable to comprehend any alternative place to be.

 

Unless the sun shone brightly, Nitzam‘s gaze rarely strayed from his shoes – a soft, worn black leather resembling the footwear worn in comprehensive schools across the catchment area. The cuffs and hood of his cloudy black coat fell sorrowfully over any defining features he may have had. Tall enough to look down on the youthful skatepark pilgrims, but always too distant to feel threatening, Nitzam stood alone. Nobody knew where he came from or why he was there, and nobody cared enough to ever find out.

Recent summer days had conceived the myth that Nitzam was a time traveller. Wearing the same clothes every day and forever anxious of his surroundings, adolescent boys and girls would gather around a single cigarette and joke that he was a time traveller who had become stuck in the present. The consequence of a turbulent trip through a wormhole, Nitzam had forgotten who he was, where he came from, or when and where he arrived. But even such youthful imaginations could not reach far enough to answer why he now spent his days at a skatepark in a leafy London commuter belt town. With ley lines as arteries, this civil parish was home to Rosicrucians, Scientologists, Christian Scientists, the Ashworth Dowsers, the Pagan Federation, Opus Dei and the Church of The Latter Day Saints, but the same could not be said for Nitzam.

 

Whether or not the skaters believed the myth, many of them would shout their theories from a distance after passing a bottle of White Lightning around. Nitzam was not able to admit or deny, reject or believe their story. Unlike the teenagers that returned home to their guardians every evening, he had nowhere to go. He had never known another place.

 

Some days he wondered; if, like the boys in the skatepark, he once knew someone, someone who knew who he was. But if this person existed, they would have to know more about where he was, than his version of life had allowed him to know about them. Without any memory of his past, he was travelling through time on the edge of consciousness. His birth was lost, leaving only the chance of finding death.

 

Sheets of rain cascaded from the sky. There was no sign of children arriving for their first after-school swimming lesson of the term. The metallic canopy marked with a hundred nicknames and insults kept Nitzam dry, but gave no clue as to where the sun sat above. The storm’s sibilation allowed only one of his five senses to perceive the passing of time.

 

Nitzam’s toes curled as water began to greet the souls of his feet, but his gaze remained fixed to the pool forming beneath him. His pupils swelled as he stared, suddenly expecting to meet his own gaze in the water’s reflection.

 

Before any shape could form at his feet, the reflection warped, rippled and fractured with the gale. His desperately curious meditation turned to dusk. All he knew was that he had lost the meaning of himself, and at some point in time, he had lost meaning to everyone else.

Time is the distance I made in mind

Time is the distance it takes ‘til I find

Heaven in hell ‘cos I never feel pain of death

Hell in that heaven ‘cos everyone I know has left

Meet me somewhere only we can know

I’ll take you somewhere only we can go

Space is the distance knowing where we start and we end

I lost the space between me and my only friend

Heaven in hell ‘cos I never feel pain of death

Hell in that heaven ‘cos everyone I know has left

Meet me somewhere only we can know

I’ll take you somewhere only we can go

Meet me somewhere only we can know

I’ll take you somewhere only we can go

 

The storm finally blew East towards Hammerwood, leaving puddles cast across the skatepark and neighbouring football pitch. A wet haired mother and son smelling of sodium hypochlorite began to argue in the Kings Centre car park. The sun was beginning to set.

 

A raw breeze crept through the small opening in Nitzam’s hood that exposed his face. Pulling his knees tighter to his chest, he looked up to see a small flock of starlings throbbing above the trees in the distance. Swaying across the ash coloured sky, the murmuration held no enduring direction. They danced between the treetops, slalomed between swamped goalposts, sailed above tattooed tarmac, climaxing with a dive behind the back of the Kings Centre.

 

In a trance, like seeing his reflection form beneath him, Nitzam gazed beyond the gate, beyond the lawn, beyond the clashing kin in the car park, until he met the Kings Centre’s red brick walls. Draped with a fire escape ladder, his eyes roamed upwards toward the roof in which the last starling vanished behind. Magnetised, he rose to his feet and paced evenly towards the skatepark gate, across the waterlogged pitch, between rows of parked cars, pausing at the foot of the ladder for a breath before ascending.

Where did I begin, when will it end and how long will this feeling last?

Paying for my pain the future with my pain in the past

It’s a long way down

It’s a long way down

A long way down

I cannot remember who I am or what my meaning was in life

It’s been hard since September because degrees they keep on falling night by night

It’s a long way down

It’s a long way down

A long way down

Me in my imagination is the most lonely place that I know

So far so good is what I told myself but now its So it goes

It’s a long way down

It’s a long way down

It’s a long way down

 

Nitzam gasped for air. Standing balanced on the edge of leisure centre’s roof, he could no longer breath. Below in the abyss of the slate black car park, the ground mirrored his nihility. Above was unknown. Having existed only in the present, he had never faced the possibility of death.

If 6 was 9

If 6 was 9

I’m on the other side of the world

I’m on the other side

If 6 was 9

If 6 was 9

I’m on the other side of the world

I’m on the other side

45 times I jumped off the first floor

‘Cos off the 45th I didn’t feel so sure

It’s hard to explain what it is that I’m doing

But I can’t keep reincarnating what’s ruined

If 6 was 9

If 6 was 9

I’m on the other side of the world

I’m on the other side

If 6 was 9

If 6 was 9

I’m on the other side of the world

I’m on the other side

Waiting for you

Waiting for you

If 6 was 9

If 6 was 9

I’m on the other side of the world

I’m on the other side

If 6 was 9

If 6 was 9

I’m on the other side of the world

I’m on the other side

Heaven in hell or hell in heaven

The time always reads 11:11

It’s hard to explain what it is that I’m doing

But I can’t keep reincarnating what’s ruined

If 6 was 9

If 6 was 9

I’m on the other side of the world

I’m on the other side

If 6 was 9

If 6 was 9

I’m on the other side of the world

I’m on the other side

Waiting for you

Waiting for you 

Am I right or wrong?

‘Cos I’m gone, I’m gone, I’m gone in a second 

 

As Nitzam tilted between two unmistakable outcomes on the roof’s edge, a life unknown to him flashed before his eyes. In a moment of exponential uncertainty, he began to step backwards.

 

As if the sun had bet its life on a single roulette spin for Nitzam’s fate, it began to set. He watched, desperate for air, as it vacated its position in the sky. Its crown peaked above the trees, holding on for its life, refusing to give mercy to the earth rolling westward on its axis.

 

Birthed from molecules and dust, an afterlife could only pursue the life with beginning. Colour decayed from Nitzam’s vision and the world turned opaque. The preceding moment of mortality stretched the mother thread of his existence. Darkness began to unveil the consequence of sharing his life with another spirit.

 

Looking skyward, feeling faded from his limbs as he collapsed between two pools converging in the centre of the membrane roofing. He lay still with his eyes buried in the back of his head, his breath oscillating between equivocal whispers.

I feel minds in tune

But you’re the only one of my visions that hasn’t come true

Was I happy?

Or unaware?

In the moment in the past when I felt like I was there 

There must be

A way to be together

I hope you never understand what its like to live forever

‘Cos it feels like

I can’t be satisfied 

I’m numb

The only who can hear what’s in my mind

Come and save me before I learn to die

Come and save me before I learn to die

Before I learn to die

Before I learn to die

Before I learn to die

Come and save me before I learn to die

Come and save me before I learn to die

Before I learn to die

Before I learn to die 

Follow the ley line

Until we meet again in time

Remember the words I say

And every second will forever feel like yesterday 

Come and save me before I learn to die

Come and save me before I learn to die

Before I learn to die

Before I learn to die

If we’re together we can to live

And will give you everything that I give

Everything that I give

Everything that I give

Come and save me before I learn to die

Come and save me before I learn to die

Before I learn to die

Before I learn to die

Before I learn to die

Before I learn to die 

 

Swathed in darkness, Nitzam lay asleep, mirrored on both sides by his reflection. A white glow began to form around King Centre as lights switches flipped inside.

 

Oblivious to Nitzam lay above them, mothers held babies kicking, half submerged in a shallow pool. In the larger tank, a whistle pierced the humid air as the lifeguard spotted a young girl held below the water’s surface by her older brother.

 

Fathers of children long since left home chased a furry green football in the sports hall.

 

Three boys that sometimes visited the skatepark howled with laughter and fear as they pressed the elevator’s emergency stop button, trapping themselves between two floors.

 

In the gym, a young woman ran determinedly on a treadmill, charging to shed the depression of her two-hour door-to-door commute. A young man from the same former AS-Level Psychology class stood lifting weights on the other side of the room. He wondered whether the young woman or any of her friends would remember him, five years to the day since he left home for university.

 

The mother and son previously arguing in the car park sat silently in the café by the building’s main entrance. Behind them, a mechanical children’s ride chimed the theme song of a television programme her son had outgrown. The mother smiled, sipping her cup of tea. Her son sat across from her, staring up into the ceiling lights.

 

Further than the building’s glow could reach, Nitzam’s consciousness lay at rest, his breath in time with the night air whispering in his ear. Reality had given way to a dream.

Happiness is a warm subtle sound

I have found with you breathing next to me

What you find true

Not what loves you,

Is a mind I lost before

Happiness I found on the ground

It’s a long way down but you were falling

Next to me

What you find true

Not what loves you,

Is a mind I lost before

Mind I lost before

It’s a mind I lost before

It’s a mind I lost before

It’s a mind I lost before

 

“I found you Nitzam. I’ve waited for so long to be with you again. I’m so sorry to have ever left you. I’ve wasted so much of my life away from you.

 

I’ve been stranded in myself. I’ve been living with strangers, trying to adapt to their world, while you were left here, oblivious.”

 

“I’m not oblivious. I’m sure I have been waiting for you to find me.”

 

“Nitzam. You don’t understand… I’d give anything to be with you now. You have been oblivious to the life I’ve lived. You still have the chance to change everything; share your life with someone else, share a new way of seeing things.”

 

“How could I ever know how someone else sees life?”

 

“You can change the world because you are the future.”

 

“I cannot. I don’t know who I am or why I’m here.”

 

“What do you love Nitzam?”

 

“I can’t remember.”

 

“Believe me, it has always been there, even when I haven’t been. Find it. Own that feeling, but not the object of your love. Share the thing you love with others and you’ll see me again. We will be in each other’s arms.”

 

“Please don’t leave.”

 

“I’ll be with you again, as sure as the sun will rise.”

 

“Where will I find you?”

 

“Only you can know”

 

 

Nitzam’s dream washed away as surrounding puddles leaked through his coat. Expecting to find himself in a new world, he sat up to find the same dark view from the rooftop as he left behind.

 

Screwing his eyes shut, he tried to return to his dream and the person he now believed he had been waiting for. But just as the gale had disfigured his reflection, any answers found in his fleeting exchange with the truth began to decompose. His dream only confirmed that infinite time and space could stand between understanding who he was.

To hear a sound

To see a light

To show I might

Exist in the same time you’re living in is all I need

I turn away people every day

You’re so far away

But it takes one generation to change everything

Right or wrong

Left or right

To show I might

Exist in the same time your living in is all I need

Should I pray?

A new line to lay

You’re so far away

But it takes one generation to change everything

Are you human race?

Do you love or fight?

Please show I might,

Exist in the same time your living in is all I need

The sky is grey

Do you hear delay?

You’re so far away

But it takes one generation to change everything

 

Nitzam gazed back at the skatepark as he stood once again at the roof’s edge. He no longer felt torn between a choice between potential oblivion and continued existence. Looking deep into the horizon, further into the distance than possible from where he spent his days, Nitzam saw windows of houses lit up in the distance, traffic lights blinking, car headlights beaming. Amazed and afraid, he could barely make out the half-pipe as he looked back towards the skatepark.

 

Inside the King Centre café, the mother paid for her tea and walked with her son following reluctantly behind towards the glass doors. As they stepped outside, Nitzam stood above, following with his eyes as they walked through the car park, along the path, towards the skatepark on the right, and bridge on the left. Despite the King Centre’s glow, only a vague shape of the half-pipe remained. The bridge towered and arched into a remote world, illuminated by cars deep below and the golden haze of the high-street.

 

Like the starlings that vanished before, the mother and son’s allure proved too strong to keep Nitzam lonely where he stood. Desperate not to loose them to the night, he descended back down the fire escape ladder.

I found happiness inside a dream

I start counting every year and second in between

Missing you wont stop me sharing everything you gave

Infinity may separate my cradle and my grave

I feel better now

‘Til night creeps in and I’m standing lonely

Heavens open sky is falling, pouring, washing out

Time is slowing

I am calling Morning sun come out! 

Rainwater reflections

I see part of you in me

Flows right to the river where I feel that’s where you’ll be

I feel better now

‘Til night creeps in and I’m standing lonely

 

At the foot of the ladder, Nitzam’s shadow stretched back towards the skatepark as if sure of a singular moral obligation. Returning without a single answer was returning home nonetheless. Although a defeat, there was no gamble. There was no luck for someone who would live forever. The skatepark to his right was the only place he had ever seen other people live their lives. Barely a thread in confidence in himself, a leap of faith held no resolution.

 

Yet Nitzam’s eye remained fixed to the mother and son fading into the glow of the bridge. In a bolt of lightning, his feet drifted above the ground as he raced toward the bridge. Sprinting left away from the only place he knew was not a moral failing, it was a chance to share his lack of understanding, to learn a reason to exist, to understand life, away from its margins.

 

He dug his toes into the concrete, but he could make no time. No matter how fast he ran, a chasm grew before the mouth of the bridge.

 

In shape and distance, the mother and son began to mirror the constellation of Gemini above. As strong as he was drawn towards them, he was held back, his shadow anchored to the black hole expanding to his right.

 

Lunar poles held him suspended as the moon pulsed above. The sun seared the bright side of the earth, burning like a stellar remnant. In an eternal moment; Nitzam, the sun and the moon froze, rooted in their struggle to break free from fate. Each cried for mercy, desperate to wake from a dream. With no light and no darkness; there was only one life untold.

Sun brings the day and my fear runs away

My shadow is near

If one has to die, you know that I will try

So don’t shed a tear

‘Cos you are the one

Who sends me to sleep

‘Cos you are the one

Who plays hard to keep

The boys skating by

They can’t see my cry

I’m under the moonlight with tears in my eyes

I’m under the moonlight with tears in my eyes

Now is the time

Cannot wait for a sign

My mind knows what’s true

I fear what’s not there

And there’s no use for prayer

In this hell we’ve been through

‘Cos you are the one

Who sends me to sleep

‘Cos you are the one

Who plays hard to keep 

The boys skating by

They can’t see my cry

I’m under the moonlight with tears in my eyes

I’m under the moonlight with tears in my eyes

In my eyes

In my eyes

In my eyes

In my eyes

In my eyes

In my eyes

In my eyes

In my eyes