A Limerick

I trudged around with feet of lead,

To calm my mind and soothe my head,

So I talked to a friend,

For hours on end,

Before it hit me that she isn’t dead.

(Not just yet)

Advertisements

My One Mistake

I could feel her gaze upon me,
Even when I was alone,
I could sense her try to taunt me,
On the metro and at home

At first I tried to brush if off
And blame it on the nerves,
But our pasts chase all of us,
Till we get what we deserve

I tried to say “I’m sorry!
“I didn’t MEAN to pull the trigger!
“Babe, it was an accident!”
But the truth she seemed to figure

She shadowed me obsessively,
She knew my every move,
She persevered for many a week,
Her point she had to prove

I soon grew wild and frantic,
I pitied my sorry plight,
Any security I once had,
Packed off, took hasty flight

When I would feel her looking,
I’d spin around, heart ablaze,
But every time I’d miss her,
She’d escape without a trace

As I later learned, that wasn’t true,
She was always there, my love,
Instead of peering to my sides,
I should have looked above…

Corner Office

“I quit, Mr Abaddon,” I sigh, my fingers twisting around the hem of my skirt as my palms start to feel clammy again. Stay strong, I whisper to myself, the job is tempting, I know, but the omnipresent guilt…

“You… you what?!” Mr Abaddon stammers, spinning around to look me right in the eye. “You can’t QUIT!” He bellows in response to his own question, incredulity etched onto his face.

“I can, actually. And- And I will,” a sudden burst of confidence flows through me, forcing out words that are calm and dignified when on the inside, I feel anything but.

“Mara,” He coos, his voice softening abruptly. His eyes scan me almost hungrily as he says, “Think about all the great work you’ve done for us, all the flawless… presentations. You’re amazing at your job.”

“Nowadays, I feel burned out and dissatisfied,” I confess, a hint of doubt starting to pick at my brain. “All the new… assignments… They’ve taken a toll on me,” I add, not sure if I really mean what I’m saying.

“But you used to LOVE this life, Mara,” Mr Abaddon counters smoothly. “You adored the field trips out of the office and you tackle challenges so well. Your numbers are fabulous and I can’t remember the last time an employee had a drive like yours – not to mention the amazing records,” He pauses to slip in a watery smile.

“I know you don’t REALLY want to leave,” He wheezes, and I feel my resistance start to crumble.

“Give me one good reason to stay, then,” I challenge with a final spurt of severity.

“Look outside and you’ll find a million,” Mr Abaddon promises and so I twist around to get a good look out the window. The view, although a familiar one, takes my breath away.

Saffron flames lick every visible surface as ragged beings trudge through an arid wasteland. Suffering hangs in the air like an obstinate cloud that refuses to relieve itself and the pain… Oh, the pain seems to be the only constant.

Despite my resolve, I feel a beaming smile creep onto my face. Mr Abaddon’s blood-red eyes study my reaction carefully, waiting for a response.

“I don’t know what got into me,” I confess, my stomach unclenching. “It would take a fool to pass this kind of job up. Of course I’ll stay.” I smirk.

“I knew you would, old girl. You never could resist the smell of suffering, could you?” Mr Abaddon chuckles, his scarlet skin crinkling up at the eyes.

Just as I start to shuffle back to my corner office, Mr Abaddon adds, “So will I have that loss-and-loss chart on my table by ten?”

“Sure thing, boss,” I whistle, my heart almost singing.

Whoever said that corporate life was hell?

Thanks A Lot, Kathryn

The metro creaks along its rickety tracks, the fluorescent lights flickering to expose the handful of passengers seated in its garish seats. Fourteen stops, I count mentally. Fourteen stops till I’m back at home.

I have only myself to blame for my current situation, of course. When Kathryn suggested we go for a 02:00 am screening of an obscure Japanese movie at the cinema downtown, I should’ve known better than to say yes. But she’s Kathryn and I’m desperate so I jumped at the chance to spend a little extra time with her which is what eventually lead to me now being mostly alone in a gaudy metro.

Tired to the bone and more than a little creeped out by all the deserted stations we were passing by, I heave a relieved sigh when I hear the distant chugging of a train nearing ours.

Desperate for some sign of human life [apart from the three sleeping forms that constituted all of my fellow passengers], I crane my neck to get a better look at the other train.

Surprisingly, it seems like the vehicle is packed with people. Even more surprisingly, out of the seemingly 100,00 faces that whizz past me in a blur, one of them stands out as clear as day.

The strange thing is, I couldn’t describe the face even if my life depended on it. I can’t say if its eyes were brown or if the skin was pale, but I can somehow tell that it’s been imprinted into my mind, somewhat permanently.

Brushing it off as an oddity, I settle back down in my seat just as the neighbouring train clatters away. My mind already working on erasing what just happened, I’m a little perplexed when I hear the hoot of another train set to cross paths with mine.

Now, I don’t have a PhD in metro schedules, but it seemed a little off that there were two trains hurtling along the same line in such quick succession. I peer out of my window to get a closer look and immediately feel a jolt run up my spin as I realise that this one is identical to the one before; it’s brimming with life forms and the same peculiar face is glaring right at me. Except…

Except it feels like the face is closer than before. My brain already turning this into a Paranormal Activity sequel, I decide that I’m just tired and firmly close my eyes. At any rate, I’m only twelve stops away from home now and then it’s bye-bye-insidious-hallucinations for good.

I’m just about to plunge into a first-rate nap when I feel my skin turn cold for no apparent reason. My heartbeat starting to accelerate, I open my eyes…

…Only to find the face, seated at the far end of my train booth. An inexplicable fear starts to creep up my throat because it hits me; the face is going to keep coming closer…

And closer…

And closer…

Until…

How Blue Is My Sapphire – Chapter One

I wake up just as the sunlight starts to pierce through my bedroom curtains, filtering the air with a soft glow. Gentle rays bounce off the walls and reflect onto my mirror, directing a faint beam right onto my bed.

I stifle a yawn and lazily blink my eyes open before I remember; today is no ordinary day.

All of us live with our past.

My mind struggling to recall yesterday’s events, I slip off the bed and shrug on a bedraggled robe, clothing my feet in a pair of slippers I don’t remember owning.

A dull throb spreading through my head, I make my way to the bedroom door. My fingers grasp the knob and gently twist it open. I step out of my room and give my eyes a moment to adjust to the blinding light I suddenly find myself in the midst of. Someone forgot to turn the bulbs in the living room off last night.

Speaking of someone…

“Ashton??” I call out, my hands tracing the unfamiliar, rough wooden banister rolling along the short staircase just outside my room. This banister… It was marble last night, was it??

“Ashton?? Are you there??”

All of us die with our past.

Silence. Deafening silence.

Cautiously, I place one foot on the top step and inch myself forward. “Ash??” I repeat, a hint of panic dancing around every alphabet.

Still nothing.

I try to suppress all the frenzied thoughts fighting for attention in my brain and pad down the stairs, firmly clutching the handrail for support.

“I don’t have time for this,” I think to myself and quicken my pace. “I don’t have time to waste.”

The moment I reach the bottom of the steps, I notice the little changes. Different cushion covers, a set of washed-out blue table cloths instead of the lavender ones I laid out, the space on the wall where I hung my French artwork now lay barren… Subtle and insignificant, but urgent and worrying.

All of us try hard to last.

With a sharp intake, the most drastic change of them all finally registers; this is not my floor. These are not my walls. They’re similar, but worn-out. And tired-looking. And everything’s much, much smaller.

Scanning the room, I find the telephone strung up on the kitchenette’s wall, just where I’d left it. Relieved that some things were just the same, I stride over, pick it up and dial my sister’s number.

In three and a half rings, I am comforted to hear her voice on the other end. “Fletcher residence. Emma speaking,” She chirps.

“Em, it’s me,” I whisper into the receiver.

“Juno!! What’s up, love??” She says confidently, but I can hear her falter.

“Emma… Something’s wrong,” I tell her.

“Tell you what, I’ll be right there,” She briskly states and before I can say anything else she cuts the call.

But life whirls by us too fast.

I hang up the phone and walk to the kitchen. The granite of my kitchen counter has somehow changed to a stained plastic and the little ledge where I usually keep my framed Harvard degree is empty.

Reeling and thoroughly perplexed, I convince myself that a glass of cocoa may be just the thing I need to stop my head from nervously buzzing.

Grabbing a large mug and a packet of chocolate powder from a cabinet, I set about heating some water.

“Today was important, for some reason,” I ponder to myself, settling a kettle onto the battered stove. “I can’t seem to remember why…”

My thought whizzing, I close my eyes and breathe in deeply, the sound of the water boiling doing wonders to calm my frazzled nerves.

“What on earth is going on??” I wonder. “What on bloody earth??”

Everything Is Never As It Seems – Chapter 3

For chapters 1 and 2, scroll below

“Hello there! How may I help you?” The cheery voice of the receptionist greeted us as we entered the lobby – if you could call it that. Apart from a rickety table plonked right in the middle and the placard on it that read “reception,” the room was devoid of any furniture. A ceiling fan whirred lazily and did little to soothe the dry heat that poured in from the windows.

“We’d like a room, please,” Lily said, flashing him a dazzling grin. “We’re on our honeymoon.”

“Ooh, two little lovebirds, are you?” The receptionist grinned, and that was the first time I noticed it. Something was slightly off about his appearance; something was wrong, in some way. I felt my stomach inexplicably lurch.

“Well, I’ve got just the thing for you,” He ducked under the table and emerged with a brown key. “Follow me,” He beckoned.

He led us out of the room and to the rows of dumpy cottages spread out across the property. It suddenly occurred to me that he was the first person we saw since alighting from the train; we didn’t even spot anyone at the railway station.

I was about to whisper this to Lily when the man spun around and I saw something that made me let out a blood curdling scream.

Everything Is Never As It Seems – Chapter 1

“We’re lost, Lily. Totally, utterly lost,” I sighed, frowning at the map outstretched in my arms as another train puffed into the desolate railway station. “I’ve checked about a dozen times, but it looks like this town isn’t even on the map.”

“Would you RELAX, Ron?” Lily shook her head, snatching the map away from me. “The whole point of backpacking across the country was to stray off the beaten path, not check some map every two seconds to make sure we’re still on it,” She crumpled the map almost violently and tossed it into a garbage can.

“Hey, we need that-” I began to sputter in indignation, but she cut me short, “Hey, look, there’s a traveller’s inn just about a mile away!” She squealed, pointing at a rusted signboard on the platform. “Just what we need; a nice, cool bath before we can set out and explore this place,” She added, already striding towards the station’s exit.

“If you say so,” I grumbled under my breath, but followed her out just the same.