McKenzie: Home for Christmas (Part I)
14th August, 2012
"Chrissy, are you sure you'll be alright?" Christine kept searching for a reconciliation in her brother's eyes, but he was reluctant to give in. His eyes wandered from her leather boots to the cracks in the pavement to the fallen dried leaves, but never towards his sister. Her hands remained mid-air, hesitant yet yearning to comfort her younger brother. But before she could, he walked away in a swift turn, never once looking back. She could still remember how he turned around a million times to bid his countless cute farewells on his way to school, but he had gone so far from that little boy.
Little did she know that a ruthless mercenary would target him later that day, and she would only find his rotten corpse a few weeks later.
26th December, 2013
"Mom, you can't stay here all day." David McKenzie stood in the doorway of his childhood home, apron around his shoulders, wet from all the dishes he had washed and put away. Dementia had taken its due course with her, often leaving her stranded in the middle of the hallway, or in the creepy vacancy of the store room. He gently placed his hands beside her shoulders, leading her inside from the windy porch before she caught another bad fever.
Life was peaceful. It was not something David was particularly used to. And if someone had told him a year before that his life would be serene and mundane and boring someday, he would have had a hard time believing them. He didn't even believe Edward when he said so. But there he was, cooking and cleaning and maintaining his childhood home beside his mother. The only red that splattered on his hands anymore was not that of blood, but of the stingy manure that he used in the backyard. It made him realize that it was perhaps always possible. That perhaps if he did what he finally did many years ago, life would have turned out a lot more different. Perhaps Edward would still have been--
David relaxed his stocky frame in his mother's old armchair, which he had replaced from the porch to his study. Edward and he used to fight over those chairs when they were younger. The father's armchair being the taller one, and the mother's being the shorter. Edward always won, except for a few times when they both resorted to violence, and David came out on top. But the joy was forever destined to be short-lived, as their mom would soon inquire how the fight broke out, ultimately leaving him in their mother's chair, and Edward smirking in their father's. David tilted his head, only to see the tall armchair lie by his side, vacant.
"David," His mother's faltering voice barely creeped out of her bedroom, making its way into his study. He had missed her calling his name. But then again, it was hard on her to expect to have remembered someone who she sparingly saw in the last couple of decades. Regrets. With an elongated stretch, carefully cracking all his bones and muscles in place, David slowly started on his trudge to his mother.
Gunshot. The glass cupboard which sheltered and curated their family memories lost her first line of defense, although it missed David by a feet. Amateur, David thought to himself as he ducked and rolled over to the ill-stacked space behind the couch. With no weapons to protect himself and caught in the haze of an unpreparedness for a shootout, David struggled to pull himself together. Mom. He had to be fast.
The gunshot must have been from the open windows of the dining, from the windows behind the couch. From the outside. Amateur. But what concerned David was something else. No one except David, Edward and Stern knew about his childhood home, and two of them were not alive. One killed the other, and he killed the one. His heart was no longer throbbing, having recognized the poor aim of the intruder, but his mind was at unease, not knowing how someone could have tracked him here in all these years. He had to know.
No more gunshots. Solo. Inexperienced. Probably someone who practiced in rifles. Reload time. David captured a terracotta vase from the unorganized mess of things he had stuffed behind the couch. Tossing it to the right end of the room, he quickly moved from behind the couch to the wall adjacent to the window through the right. Another gunshot. It missed the vase, instead ripping a hole in the nearby cushioned chair. David could then see the end of the rifle protruding inches away from where he was through the window, and in a swift move, he flipped the weapon over into the room, but the heavy force on the act was much superior to the grip of the holder, launching the rifle to the middle of the room, too far from both of them. Weak.
David pushed the windows close with all his might, shattering its glass casing everywhere in an attempt to surprise the unwelcome guest. Calculating how much time it would give him enough time to pounce upon the intruder, he slipped to the space right below the windows, and by balancing himself over the wooden borders, he toppled himself outside. Gaining balance as fast as he could, David stood before his guest, only to notice a twenty-something girl with a bleeding cut on her face from the shattered window, yet to recover from the ground. But in her eyes spewed a rage, a fire, that David knew would be hard to put down.
With a scream of anguish, the girl hoisted herself and sped at him, uncovering a knife from her fully-armed vest. David locked her arms in an instant against the window, giving her another deeper cut near the wrist. The knife fell off her palms with the sharp pain, but her clenched jaws were almost trembling with anger, which made David take a step back, "How do you know where I live?"
Struggling to set herself free from the windows, her nails giving a sharp cut to David's chin, she declined to answer his question. Realizing that his attempts would take him nowhere, David pulled the girl against the bars of the window in a whim, nearly knocking her out for the moment.
Don’t I love to rant? #majorlifeupdatevibes #prollynotgonnaworkouttho (:
It has come to my attention that, perhaps, I had been taking life a little too seriously. That, maybe, I care a little too much.
For as long as I can remember, I had been trying to build a system I could follow in my life. I believed I was in desperate need of a routine to pull my life together. And I probably wasn't wrong, to be honest. Life was a little complicated back then, and perhaps the lulling solace of a routine was precisely what I needed. Maybe it could have made me feel a little less helpless, and a lot more in control of my life. But I never built one. Or in other words, I built many, even brought out various cool adaptions and variations of such systems as life took me forward in time, but none of those could hold me accountable. They failed me. Or in a much more real sense of things, I failed to keep up with any of them. And here we are now! Perhaps, I had been taking life a little too seriously.
All these systems, they did not keep me accountable. Right? But did they help me? In some ways, they did, I wouldn't lie. But it did more harm than help. Attempting to keep up with those routines left me tired and unmotivated. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't just bring myself to do the things that I was supposed to do. And the to-do list of each day just remained the same, or sometimes grew larger in size. It was overwhelming, and the guilt was eating me alive, though I was barely getting anything done. Ironic.
Ever since I was young, there had been another thing I had forever struggled with. Doing something for myself. Ah, the guilt! It always eats me alive. The frolics every toddler put up to buy all the things they loved in the shop, I never had one of those tantrums. I never wanted anything. I wanted to ease the burden of my family. I was the good son. Did I even ever actually want something? I don't know. Maybe I did. But a long progression of that cycle eventually left me with this looming disinterest towards any given thing in this entire goddamn globe. What a tragedy. Most people struggle and end up demotivated and desolate in the rugged path to their dreams, while I had none to begin with. Or maybe I had, I just neglected it for so long that I can't find where I stored them anymore.
What was the point I was trying to make? I struggle to come to the point, I really do. And I am not editing this post. I am not going to filter myself, and present the version of me that I want to be seen out there. Don't get me wrong, but I'm doing this more for myself than for the ones who might eventually read this post. I want clarity. My brain had been in a haze for far too long, and it's about time I take it out for a rinse. And thankfully, I love to rant and write. So this is technically a rant to clear my brain. My life, actually. But I wouldn't mind some company. In fact, I would love some company! If there's someone out there going through similar stuff or actually just wanna help me out (because I'm such a beautiful person who deserves the entire world (: ), tag along! We can get through all of this together! After all, the company matters just as much as the journey, doesn't it? Maybe if we are all in this together, this could be a whole lot more memorable and fun!
Ah, yes, haze. Directionless. Dreamless. Disinterest. Unmotivated. Systems! Yes, systems! So yeah, I'm gonna just dump all the systems in the trash bin in the back alley. I know they had been with me for far too long for such a miserable farewell, but guess who left me miserable for a long time too? What you're witnessing right now might just be the rejuvenation of an ex people pleaser, who's about to enter his villain era. That is, I am about to put up some white little fences which anyone can jump across and still be overwhelmed with tremendous guilt when I couldn't help out the one person who would ditch me in a stranded planet without a second thought (: I'm just kidding, I'm not that naive. Oh! That's one of the fun parts, lemme explain.
I know exactly what I'm doing. The level of self-awareness I possess is almost otherworldly. It's the pinnacle of human evolution. And the desire to act on it is also such a force of nature! But do I? Probably not. I do tell myself that my apparent naivety is a guide to view the world with a pretense gullible-ness, which allows me the privilege of seeing right through people and their intentions and puts me in a position superior to them, all the while they consider me a weak, 'rose-tinted glasses' wearing, 'untouched by the cruel realities of the harsh world' optimist. I actually take some pride in that. And to some extent, I am not wrong. It does help me a lot. And when Waymond Wang came along in Everything Everywhere All At Once, representing the others like me, I was absolutely enthralled. But again, what was the point I was trying to make?
Yes, losing the systems. I was in an argument with a friend of mine the other day (let's call him 'The Productivity Monster' for privacy's sake), and all of a sudden, I coined, "Life's not a to-do list, stop treating it like one." At the moment, I thought I was liberating myself from the capitalist loop the world is stuck on. But am I? Nah, I don't think so. I believe it was more of a 'I want to retain this peace I somehow earned over the years, and I am not risking it over a conflict that I couldn't care less about'. But I do believe that life's not a to-do list. On the contrary, a freestyle isn't exactly the way to go about it too. It's not our fault though, hear me out.
Societal norms. There are certain societal norms out there. And it is not impossible to shut your eyes towards these norms, and live a life following your heart's fantasies. It's magical, it's transcending, it's what we all would have done with our lives in a different geopolitical landscape. But these norms not only influence the approach with which we want to approach our lives, but also influences the approach with which we have to. These norms were not exactly prepared by considering every possibility of human condition out there. So the ones who weren't born to the privilege of meeting the basic societal norms had to attain some level of privilege to even think about altering or revising such given norms. And sadly, most of our lives end while we are attempting to meet them. Again, what a tragedy. But what was the point I was trying to make?
So yes, I'm going to be a little silly from now on. I am going to loosen up a bit. Let myself act on intuitions and intrusive thoughts a lot more. Try and give up on my rather perfectionistic impulses. Try not to feel everything too deeply. But ah, wouldn't that be terminating the one thing that makes me special and lovable? Probably yes. But I'm fully confident that I'll never be able to ditch any of my uncalled-for compassion and empathy even if I try my best to do so. Who knows? Maybe I might even end up finding just the right balance. Hmm, this seems like such a beautiful step forward.
If you wanna tag along on this self-actualization journey alongside me, don't be shy! I'm shy myself, so we're gonna be just fine! Let's do it together! To a beautiful life, my friends! Let's do this <3
What Happened to the Hunters?
"We have forgotten how to be good guests-- how to walk lightly on the Earth as its other creatures do."
~ Barbara Mary Ward
May 14th, 2005
"Thank you, Mercy." The ageing man responded to the nurse. The falter in his voice had still not recovered from the peculiar events of the previous month. What had brought around the unexpected transformation in the great and proud Mr Aldrich Hunter was unknown to most. How could such an arrogant, power-hungry beast be so humbled over a few mysterious days? But everyone knew it had something to do with Nixie. Phoenix Landskein. His bombshell of a second wife. Unlike Mr Hunter and his son, she never returned to the mainframe, and no one knew where she was.
Neo Hunter took the chair on the other end of the fine dining. The table was older than the portrait of the Mona Lisa, spanning nine feet and carved with fine, intricate details from head to toe. The delicacies were not abundant enough to cure the hunger of an entire state anymore. Only what was required was served, and nothing went to waste. Neo ensured that was the case, and no one had any objections to raise. Perhaps it all had to do with the generational transfer of authority from father to son, most people believed.
But Neo Hunter knew better. Neo Hunter knew firsthand what had brought around the radical transformations in the Hunter household. It had everything to do with Mrs Phoenix Landskein, his enigmatic stepmother.
April 9th, 2005
That bitch. Neo Hunter rolled down the haystacks piled so high atop one another. How could she? Neo always knew Phoenix Landskein was up to something, but everyone refused to believe him. But with hands tied against a coir rope and rashes of his allergy presenting themselves on his pale skin, Neo knew that was his best chance to prove his suspicions right before everyone. Phoenix Landskein was a gold-digger bitch.
Vision yet to be stable, Neo raised himself to stand, gaining support from his elbows and knees. The whole world spun around him, dizziness almost throwing him into another long daze. But Neo was desperate not to lose consciousness once again-- he slammed himself against the wall in the hopes of steadying his composure, his head held tight between his arms to squish some sense into him. Neo felt his throat ache and his entire frame sweating, leaving his body devoid of moisture. He needed water. Lots of it. Quick breaths. Long breaths.
The barn doors opened with a rasp to reveal before him a courtyard left unchecked for years prior. Ferns and rust had reclaimed all the fences and adornments once white and lustrous. Hints of a winding path leading to an old estate hid beneath the extensive flora consuming whatever men built over its natural state. The tall stone manor at the end of the road-- made almost entirely of stone and iron-- was all too familiar for Neo Hunter. It was his childhood home.
The nights were the hardest. So were the days, but the newfound solace of jabbering strangers at school offered Neo an odd comfort. Was there a name for the fear of dinners? But it wasn't the food that scared him. It was what came with it. The people. His family. Every time he heard his name being hollered from downstairs, every step he took towards the dining room-- it all took an act of courage.
Gripping silences. Heaviness in the air. Neo often attempted to not let his cutlery touch the dishes, to not produce the slightest noise so that his parents wouldn't notice his presence. He only left the table once his mom disappeared into the kitchen and his dad to the porch.
But some days, even his silence could not save the tumults which were to befall. Sometimes, it was a hair in the soup, sometimes a tad amount of extra salt in the bacon. But his father's outrage always shook the entire cabin to the core.
Neo never looked at his father when that happened. He looked at his mom. How her eyes were shut, and a lonesome tear caressed her folds. How her palms clutched the dress she was wearing. Before long, when his father disappeared into another room, Gaia always asked Neo to go to his room. And there, he would sleep to the muffled cries of his mother in the place of lullabies, pillows tight against his eyes and ears to tuck himself into dreams where everything was alright.
April 9th, 2005
The rashes grew bigger and redder with the passage of every minute. Unable to find anything sharp and steady, Neo headed to their old kitchen, hoping to find something to free himself. But it was empty. Hollow. The fire and aura had long settled into smoke and filth. That was when he heard a cry from the floor above. Father. Rushing atop the stairs, Neo shouldered open the doors to their old bedroom.
"Finally. You're awake." Phoenix Landskein was a woman of stature, or at least she possessed the charm of someone alike. There she stood, at 5"7', holding what seemed to be a leash made of the creepers from the grounds-- stains of red embellishing the light green of the stem. His father lay on his chest atop the busted cot, his bare back adorned with streaks of blood as he struggled to flee his chains. His restraints were not coir, but cold iron, leaving him zero chance of escaping the onslaught.
Phoenix walked up to Neo, stopping only a few inches away. Neo wanted to back up, but the notion of her kicking him down from the foyer persuaded him to keep his ground. The whip safe in her right hand, Phoenix stared right into his soul-- her green eyes threatening to claw out his deepest fears. In the end, a smile. She took his arms and twined her palms around the coir ropes, only for the yarns to magically untangle themselves, freeing him from its clutch. She passed the leash to his hands, whispering to his ear, "Careful."
As Phoenix strolled down the stairs, Neo ran to his father to help him escape. He needed something to break the chains apart, and soon upon his search, he found all the utensils from their old kitchen on the bedside table, spread neatly on a wet towel. And while picking up the hammer, Neo noticed how his rashes had faded into his skin, no longer inducing an allergic reaction.
But before he could carry his father out somewhere safe, Neo felt the temperature rising around him. Fire. He walked faster only to nearly slip over the stairs, losing the clutch over his father. His rather plump figure tumbled down the stairs, and for a moment, Neo was afraid he had marked the end of his father's life. But the day had other intentions, not a life being lost, though the stone-cold manor collapsed in on itself, leaving no reminiscence of the world Neo once knew.
May 14th, 2005
Putting his father to sleep and piling a heavy blanket atop his fragile frame, Neo walked out of his bedroom to the cold verandah. Phoenix Landskein was never found after that day. Even the most capable investigation teams couldn't gather a clue as to where she was. And the non-cooperative silence of the father and son only led to more and more suspicions and never a proper answer.
But whenever Neo brought around a change in his father's allocation of wealth for the better, the trees and animals seemed to bow before him. The sun seemed to shine brighter on the days' Neo had felt his best. And on the days when Neo felt despair, the clouds taught him to let his tears fall. And whenever he reminisced about his mother, he felt the air tug him into a warm embrace. The leash no longer had the stains of blood, but it bloomed and flowered in the courtyard of their home.
Neo knew what had happened to the Hunter household. It had everything to do with Mrs Phoenix Landskein.
I struggled with writer's block for a long while in between, and I'm sure a lot of people out there has the same issue. I'd never been much of a pantser and had always leaned to more plotting tendencies, and thus reading upon and listening to a lot of storytelling theory and experimenting with a lot of techniques, I'm figuring out an outline to help me with the task. It's not rigid, it's arbitrary, it's constantly changing, and it helps me gain more insight into the stories I want to write, and helps me explore what all I could incorporate into them. And I thought this could be somewhat helpful for someone out there too (: So, I'm sharing the outline I used to write this story here, and... hope it helps!
[cuz it feels like a wholesome thing to do (: Also, these will be some of Prose's best, so keep an eye on them (:]
The Evil Series by @Danceinsilence
The Evil Series by @Danceinsilence feels like an episodic thriller with its division into separate books and parts. Featuring a team of cops with the primary focus on a divorced female law enforcement officer and single mother (with the most adorable son), Janis Baker, this series really justifies its title throughout its course... Trust me, no matter how humane a person you think you are, you'd root for some of these characters to suffer the most-brutish-deaths possible... The evil is constantly on the rise and the saviors are on a never-ending effort to keep the streets clean. Sacrifices, serial killers, assassins-- An over-arching threat, loved ones to protect-- this series will not give you a break! Do check it out!
Instagram: (Um, I'll edit that in later...)
Chapter 1: The Questionable Protagonists
Am I a good person, or am I trying to be? Is there any difference between the two? Or am I, after all, a bad person?
At the end of every chapter, it is for you to judge. Forget everything you think you know about me. I need your judgement to be objective and free of any bias from the assumptions you might hold. I want you to discover who I truly am. And thus, I want to try and understand myself and what I'm hiding from. Let's begin.
The experiences I will reveal throughout these chapters are mostly specific to my life and is not, in any manner, generalized. But I hope I can leave enough ambiguity to these posts so that you can meanwhile judge yourself to some extent. Why judge? Because we are fundamentally judgmental creatures. Because no matter how perceiving we believe we have turned over the years, our judging mindset rarely fades into inexistence; so does every stigmatic belief we are born with.
For the first chapter, I assumed it would be best to provide you, the reader, with details you can cross-check from my profile. Because at the end of the day, every little thing we do, every little thought we bare-- it all invariably points to who we truly are. (Also, good liars always build their version of the truth on a foundation of lies.) I had enough reason to suspect my protagonists over the years did the same. I discovered that I hid within their hearts a piece of my soul. A fine quality in a writer would be to lose all consciousness of self when creating a character, but one of my fatal flaws was always being a self-absorbed narcissist, no matter how many steps I took to alter myself.
The Dark Alley featured an unnamed protagonist who upheld his newfound love for a girl he had befriended above all his friends, who he considered muppets to his threads. From being alone with no connections, he finds friends who, he believes, are tolerable. The teenage protagonist adds and subtracts these muppets according to his will to find a suitable social circle. In addition, he values himself for having something special from the so-called nerds who lacked the social skills he comparatively had in abundance. And even so, when I narrated the story from his perspective, a part of myself rooted for this unbearable egomaniac, which led me to convince the readers to do the same.
The Constrained Journey featured an irritable toddler gathering her courage to leave her loving parents, all because they neglected her compulsion to be bought a bicycle. And yet again, I narrated the story from her perspective, almost justifying her actions, only to leave the readers with a conclusion with barely any change in her personality but only in her immediate needs. In the Needs & Wants Theory of Character Design, I deprived every protagonist of mine of meeting their actual need. In fact, I left them devoid of even realizing a transformation is essential to their character arcs-- as any person who neglects to confront their necessary evils would.
And in A Day in the Life of a Kleptomaniac, yet another unnamed young protagonist with recurrent stealing tendencies gets away with their acts of mischief. And subconsciously, I rooted for him to be safe, and I inflicted the same evil will on the ones who read the tale.
In The Mysterious Lady, Susan, an obnoxious and overly curious teenager, is gifted with the power of invisibility, and she uses it solely for her personal desires, including beating up a fellow student she hates and stealing from a roadside store. Only towards the end, when she is faced with an individual, much more in the lack of self-control, does she finally have an opportunity to learn what she could have done with her powers. But instead, she regrets being at the wrong place at the wrong time and is only affected by her fear of death.
In Out of Love, we meet Harry, an ageing widower and retired advocate, in the last proceedings of adopting a child. Towards the end, he realizes the child he was about to adopt was his granddaughter. But no details whatsoever were revealed on how the adorable grandfather loses touch with his daughter, so much so that he is unaware that he even has a granddaughter. And the fact that he is in no condition to raise a child is emphasized countless times in the story, and even being aware of it, Harry decides to proceed with the adoption. He places his want to cure his loneliness over the need for his granddaughter to be raised by someone capable of handling the pressure.
David McKenzie was an outright criminal and a brutal assassin, fuelled only by the instructions he received from the higher-ups and his perfectionistic love for his field of work, and later vengeance. 'Vampires are Made' featured a protagonist who never recovered from a regret so early on in his life and thus drowned himself in the ocean of his fears and regrets. Andromeda featured a protagonist who never returned to her normalcy after her parents died in an accident, only to be solaced at the magical return of her deceased mother.
'Has Anyone Seen Jo?' featured an arrogant guardian angel who boasts of his superiority and devoted purpose and regards any mortal being as inconsequential and worthless in the grand scheme of God. Sabrina was narrated as a helpless woman in the clutches of a carnal society when nothing, in reality, substantiated that there was nothing to incriminate her with.
Something Wrong featured a bold female law enforcement officer who is unable to put her mind at ease after receiving a call which she was unsure whether a prank or not, only to leap into action regardless of the consequences when massive protests challenge the very State because she was selfishly unwilling to live with more regrets after the death of her supportive mother. And Blaue Augen attempted to humanize the actions of the most notorious, wretched dictator of all time, only to end with a malicious sneer, once again denoting nothing has changed throughout the story.
There, a myriad of flawed characters shying away from their actual needs only to meet their immediate wants-- or even worse, gain zero insight from the tainted events that held enough power to transform their lives. There, individuals with unique strengths and sometimes a strong awareness about themselves neglect the need to confront the necessary evils in the voyage of life.
There is no objective good or bad. But when a character realizes their flaws and attempts to act on them, it forms a positive arc. And when a character doesn't even realise their needs or refuses to redeem themselves, it leads to a negative arc. Is it not possible for us to choose the journey we would traverse in our lives?
But it is far easier to identify the needs and wants of a character built within the bounds of a story scape. On the contrary, our lives are multi-dimensional, and our personalities multi-faceted-- a tapestry of intertwining elements forming intricate yet delicate patterns, hard to untangle.
So what is that you want? What is it that you need? Are you like one of my questionable protagonists, shying away from the life you're meant to explore? It sure would be impossible to comprehend every last thread woven into the fabric of our personality, but does that mean we should never attempt to understand what makes us who we are? In a life bounded within the chains of time, finite, isn't it one of the best explorations we could go on? To go on an adventure exclusive to ourselves which might even answer the much larger-in-scale questions of free will, fate, purpose and belief?
At the end of every chapter, it is for you to judge. Forget everything you think you know about yourself. I need your judgement to be objective and free of any bias from the assumptions you might hold. I want you to discover who you truly are. And thus, I want to try and understand myself and what I'm hiding from.
So are you a good person, or are you trying to be? Is there any difference between the two? Or are you, after all, a bad person?
1400 words, exact (: Hey everyone, um, lemme know what you think about the post! I know this one feels a bit distorted. I was unable to convert the post to exactly what I had in mind, so... And also, with the upcoming chapters, I'll try to be more general instead of being this specific, and try and present the underlying ideas in a better manner too (:
Also, check out Controlling Madness by @booklover_2020! It has this almost-dystopian world featuring a bunch of very intriguing characters with their own agendas, and everyone seems to hold so much depth! Action, mystery, family ties, secret agencies, military control, prison systems, insiders-- it has everything required for the making of a good thriller! Do check that out! Love y'all <3 <3
Cleansed with Blood
I'd always wondered how it would feel to kill myself.
The morning sun recreated the bars of the windows on my bed, imprisoning me in a cage of shadows. I grabbed the sheets where the dark lines fell, seeing if I could pull them apart, and off to my liberation. But I couldn't even grasp them, as if they never existed. But I knew. I knew how the cage bound me in chains-- disguised as a blanket of warmth and comfort. Disguised as a tapestry of blood and kinship.
"Morning, sweetheart." He entered my room again, dawning his pretence costume of a saviour in the streets. People looked at him like a hero, but I knew who he was beneath all the medals and the stars. I knew the creepy ogre lurking beneath his malicious sneer. I knew the grotesque fantasies hiding underneath his firm assurances. I knew. I knew.
His filthy palms were on my neck. I baulked away from his disgusting frame, his foul stench. I knew I shouldn't have-- he was about to leave, and I could have been in peace till the night fell, but no. Today was different.
Frustrated sigh-- removing the metal watch and holster from his undeserving outfit-- he stood with his back against me. The silhouette of his stocky frame enclosed within the same bars that held me-- but he stood mighty, while I, an incomprehensible heap of slender patterns. But today was different.
I stood upon my bed, my shadow growing vast behind me. The bars could only then reach my knees, but they surrounded him-- a beast prepared for the kill. I bent down, seizing the holster without his notice. Bore the cold piece of metal on my skinny arms. Turn around, sweetheart.
The sheets would have to be washed. The floors would have to be wiped. The walls would have to be painted. But the house was cleansed of its dirt more than ever-- it no longer sheltered within an aberration, one the world didn't need.
I exited the bed and onto the floor. The bars could not hold me anymore.
Blood squished under my bare feet. I walked out the front doors and onto my liberation.
I'd always wondered how it would feel to be alive.
Off To The Woods
To whoever this may concern,
Life is short. And if I had continued lingering on my unsatisfactory, perpetual workdays and the weekends, which passed me by like a meteor, far in the night skies, quick and barely perceivable, I'm afraid I might transform into some lost spirit post my death, haunting old houses and creepy, dark woods. And I don't plan on being a nuisance after my death, which would only contribute to my mumbling paternal grandfather's distasteful prediction that I would be a massive waste of time and effort, given a chance. Also, I would be eternally grateful if you could hold back your irritable impulses to retrieve and establish me back into my mundane, tiresome, unimaginative life that I used to charter. Because if my calculations are not altered by any unexpected factors I forgot to consider, I will return on my own accord in around a year. Until then, I would be finally leading a life that I love and should have lived in this mortal, transient experience of being yet another human on this little blue planet, potentially insignificant in the grand scheme of the universe and everything in it. Thank you for reading and your patience-- see you in a year, hopefully not.
Hanging by a thread,
To Another Day
Sunday morn, skies that mourned,
wrinkled blankets, undone laundry,
notes that piled, lectures paused,
plates and bowls, last night meals.
Seasons changes, fall and rains,
falling apart, piece by piece.
Save me, please, screamed to the skies,
begged and hurt, lone in a crowd.
Deep inside, something changed,
life felt different, so did I.
What once was, what now is,
what would be, all blurred in one.
Barely human, days all same,
can't be machine, feelings clawed.
Bewitched in a maze, no way out,
dark that stayed, lights that frayed.
Would I leave, this game of hurt,
or would I stay, forever and frail?
Shall I try, when all things fail,
or just let go, as fate may plead?
But I will wake, to another day,
for dawn may break, and the sun may rise,
birds may sing, and the rains may pour,
nights may fall, and the cold may creep.
I will wake to another day.
Chapter 19: We Had This Coming
"Cure save us? Cure good?" The eyes of the lifeless often had a sort of depth and darkness that left the ones who stared petrified, easing their status as prey to feast into. But what Clint noticed in Frederick's eyes right then was something else: a glint of hope, perhaps.
"Cure good." He left his retort short but with a reassuring smile. Patting him on the shoulder twice, Clint stood up, raising the bottle in his hand above the centre of the table. "To the cure, my friends!" Though only Jules managed to repeat the little chant after him, and the rest were indistinct but excited mumblings, he could feel things were going back to normal again. If there ever was a normal.
The night was one of celebration all around Charon's camp. From the very next day then, everyone on the site would start receiving their antidotes, and all of that zombie apocalypse stuff was about to be wrapped up for good. There was a part of Clint that wished the cure was developed earlier. Back when he met his sons for the first time and lost them.
But there was no time to stay miserable due to all that happened in the past. There was only time to be concerned about rebuilding what once was, even better than the way it was from the lessons learnt. A brighter future. Maybe, all of this was nature helping them set things straight-- Like floods that once cleansed it all, a virus that brought out the worst in each.
Clint grabbed another bottle, leapt over the bench and gestured for Jules to come over. Treading through the lifeless forms roaming around with newfound energy. one that seemed to give them wings, he settled down at the foot of the oak for the night. Jules, much slower to follow him, crashed beside him and let out a sigh. Both of them were yet to get drunk enough for a celebration, but what better entertainment than deep philosophical discussions for a good drink? And what company better than a man who always looked as if he had it with life?
"So," Clint laid down on his back, watching the night sky, "what now?" After enough grunting and shuffles, Jules settled himself too, "I guess I finally get to rest. Drink beer all day, live on a beach, maybe." They both let out a small giggle yet were unwilling to look at each other. Perhaps, if they did, the grown men would have broken down into tears knowing everything they did pay off in the end. That it was the right decision not to give up. So instead, they decided to crack jokes one after another, staring at the moonlit sky.
That was when all hell broke loose.
Every lamp in the basement laboratory went off in a quick flicker, leaving Dr Elizabeth Harlem in the creeping darkness. Right beneath the composed Charon and the fierce Margo, she used to feel this protective armour in the friendly camp until then, but something about the night felt off. Not even being in a healthy state to make a run, and the eerie silence from the floor above made her requestion the need of checking up on the well-being of her mutated friends. Ensuring that the regular creaking of the floorboard was not to leave the room, she slowly stepped her way towards the few samples of cure she kept away.
"So, you must be the infamous virologist, Dr Elizabeth Harlem." Elizabeth froze right where she stood. The stuttering, husky voice belonged neither to her sentient accomplices nor the unaffected ones. She couldn't turn back for her life, but the throbbing curiosity to identify the unwelcome intruder nearly unpetrified her senses.
"I read about you. A cure for the incurable virus." In the faint gleam of the moonlight that seeped in from the vents, she could see the silhouette of the tall figure making patterns inside the room. He was not attempting to come any closer, but he neither moved farther away, disallowing the tension to break free, "Who are you finding the cure for, Doctor? The mindless or the ones without a heart?"
Elizabeth sensed a lump against her throat, holding her back from uttering a word. Amassing all courage that she could, he shuffled her feet to confront the untimely stranger in the dark. The shadows in the room hid his frame above the chest, leaving her unable to discern his face, "Who are you?"
The silhouette let out a little chuckle, but it was soon cut short, almost on a note of despair, "For a woman of Science, mademoiselle, you are not asking the right questions." His trembling hands held one another tight, attempting to conceal his weakness, "Does it matter who I am, Miss Harlem? It hurts, though, doesn't it? To not know what's behind the shadows."
This was a game. A vicious game of cat and mouse. Elizabeth knew it, but her chances of escape were too trivial. She had to find another way. "What did you do to Margo and Charon?" She asked as she put one more step closer to the drawer of cures.
"Oh, your friends. I asked them to wait upstairs. Do you want me to invite them over?" Lizzie was right. Her worst nightmares had come true. Whoever this was, he had sentient control over Margo and Charon too. Even if she was to run away, she would be strangled to death by her own friends. She took one more step towards the drawer. Her only means of escape was curing three possibly barbarous beasts with her weak, injured physique. Only if Clint and Jules were here.
Clint and Jules could barely feel their feet touching the ground, one after another, speeding away from the hordes of impending doom that chased them. They had no idea what induced the sudden switch among the mindless. It could only mean one thing, and that was a possibility they were not ready to reckon with yet. But it was the only thing that made sense: Something happened to Charon.
But what concerned Clint more was that the devastating consequences would be far worse. Charon and Margo were together. Things even Charon couldn't hold back against would have still been an easy drill for Margo. And if it was indeed something wrong with Charon, it could only mean one thing: It wasn't just Charon who went down. Margo did too.
And that was terrifying. All the way from the beginning, running away from things that barely made any sense, they could rely on Margo to appear out of nowhere and save the day. If there was something that even Margo couldn't hold against, it meant that all their battles and sacrifices were to be lost for the day that preceded the morning that would have set everything straight.
Clint could no longer hold all the thoughts in. Amid panting like a hound affected by rabies, he yelled at Jules that they needed to go back at once. Whatever it was that set everything wild, it demanded a confrontation. But leading a massive horde of zombies to a constricted house with barely an escape plan seemed like a definite suicide.
There was only one way. They had to split ways: One to distract the mindless, the other to brawl with the worst of them. It was suicide nonetheless, but it left a chance for at least one of them to survive. One of them had to be alive to protect the cure. They fought and defended too long to lose it all, only a few hours till dawn.
When Clint looked up at Jules, he knew, at once, that he wouldn't make it till the end of this run-- it had to be Jules who got the final brawl. A fragment of him wanted to seek revenge for all that happened in his life, but it was no time for decisions based on emotions. It wasn't something Jules would have accepted if they had any other choice, but it was apparent from his features that he knew it too, "I'll come back for you, boy."
The headlamps of the vintage Corvette lightened up the murky alleyway for a brief moment. And as soon as the wiper blades came to a standstill, the windshield turned misty by the light drizzle. Unfastening the seatbelts tucking him in, Cory stepped out onto the mild rain, a faint smile stuck against his facade. Fingers sliding smoothly over the hood of the vintage car, he walked over to where the crippled frame laid, shivering.
Pulling up the sleeves of his chestnut suit, he squatted on his knees beside the figure, rubbing his cold arms against each other, "Well, hello, Captain Raymond. Long time no see. Had fun?" Agitated, Clint tried to grab Cory by the collars, but he was too weak and slow to land a blow. Laughing out loud into the silence of the night, Cory took a few steps backwards from him, fully intending to further infuriate him, "The angrier you get, the faster the virus takes over, you know. Makes things easier for me."
Seating himself on top of the grey garbage can, Cory let out a deep sigh, "Did you seriously think that there would be a--" His hands swished in the air, seeking for the right word to fit right in the statement, "timeline where you and your little gang save the world?" He could not keep in his laughter, only pausing once in a while just to continue even louder, "Ah, such a mess."
Hands skimming over his glossy hair, he took a deep breath, putting on a mask of earnestness, "You would not have taken that ridiculous cure either way, would you have, Clint? You have things left to do." Leaping out of his seat, Cory started walking around his newfound prey in circles, "As calm as you pretend to be, you, Mr Raymond, are vengeful. You need to tear someone apart right from the core, but who? All those who were responsible for everything that happened to you-- they are all gone. But all that anger, all that spite, it's eating you away from the inside, isn't it?"
Cory, once again, squatted right beside him, offering him a chance at vindication, "But I-- I can help you. You know it. And I could use someone like you, Captain. We would set right what's wrong with this world. Together." Clint shuffled away from him, groaning in pain, seemingly striving his best to keep the manipulative monster away from him.
"It's useless, Clint, and you know it! Give in already."
Silence. Cory slowly stepped closer and closer to the weakling. Sitting beside him for one last time in the night, he stretched his arms towards the mangled figure. And when his hands felt the coldness of the once-righteous Captain, he knew he was closer than ever to his final triumph.
Well, that was way longer than I intended it to be. To be honest, I was struggling to finish even a single paragraph when I began writing this chapter. But then... something happened. However, there might be a bit too many grammatical errors up in there, but bear with me, won't ya (: I hope you guys enjoy the chapter! Love y'all ^-^
Cover Image: https://media.istockphoto.com/photos/zombie-hand-holding-old-wooden-board-empty-space-for-text-or-draw-picture-id1166085591b=1&k=20&m=1166085591&s=170667a&w=0&h=gLTbukgnaRJAnMoOh8CADejzDz5uEuIMv8ODexRhHss=
Okay, so, remember a challenge where we had to spotlight our favorite authors which was held a few months ago? To be precise, on the September of 2021. And the challenge word limit was 200, and I went out of my way to make a gigantic post of-- a lot of words? Well, last day, I found the lost draft that I thought was gone forever. And ah, it's a mess. So much of a mess that it almost hurts XD But I am going to put that up here. So here we go!
How could I possibly not notice this challenge before?! Alright, there is only one day left. So, we have to be fast. I will keep everything short. I don’t want to, but I think I will have to. Let’s hop right into it.
I just skimmed through some challenge entries this morning. I might have blushed a little, maybe jumped across my room in excitement for minutes on end, and perhaps played a happy dance. I don’t think I did, though. I mean, I am so mature and all, so... Yeah, I am still a horrible liar.
But I was surprised to notice that this name has not popped up anywhere: @Clarity. If you had known me for a while, you might probably know that I am a mad fan (a fanatic) of her work. I don’t think she is around these days, but she might probably remain one of the best storytellers, forever, in my heart. And if you are yet to read one of her novels, come on, what are you waiting for? Go! GO! GO! GO!
I am sorry for that. But next up in my list, it would be @CindyCalder. I haven’t read many of her posts, but she is such an incredible author. I don’t know if she had published any of her works before. But if she hasn’t, the publishers are missing out on some quality content.
And if I don’t mention this name in my list, I would rather be dead: @Mnezz. I mean, come on! She is the nicest person on all of Earth. The universe, maybe! She is the lifeblood of Prose. Without her, this community wouldn’t be what it is tonight. And of course, her spooky tales are a must read *chuckling*
Now, I have to mention this person too: @GLD. Yes, she is an amazing writer, and writes such amazing poems and stories. But more than that, she is such a wonderful friend. When I say that she has changed me even as a person, I am not lying. She has. I am lucky to have a friend like her. And I still feel that’s an understatement. And of course, check out her heartfelt poems and beautiful stories, you are missing out.
Wow, this post will go on forever. You know what? Let’s shift gears! Hold on, my dear friends. We are going lightspeed!!!
My pal, my buddy, my Bucky: @Amal_Z. My very first online friend with whom I could speak in my own language: @Sanjana_S. Her stories and poems are just *chef's kiss* And then, our queen, the epitome of self-love, my dear friend, Our Radiance: @Smruti_Swarupa. The young girl whose confidence and hard work I admire and respect: @Samina. Another online friend that I found in my aimless wander who loves a good debate: @Tushar. And when we talk about him, we can't avoid this man: @Hrithik. Also check out Miss @VRose's profile. She got some really, really good posts lined up.
Now, descriptions are not something that everyone can master, except these two. If you want to read a good character description to fill your mind, you go to @Sinha. If you want to read a good emotional description, you go to @HelenaTherese. And her micro-poetry is a must-read! And yes, my dear friend whose ambition and stories that inspires and motivates my lazy soul: @CalebPinnow. Now, if you are feeling a rush of positivity here, none of it stands a chance against the one and only Ms Nightmare: @LiannaC! Honestly though, she is such a nice person. But, we aren't still done with descriptions here. You want to experience the story on a deeper level with descriptions? Well, I got another two that can create such wonderful imageries and precise descriptions: @PaperbackFish and @HandsOfFire.
And now, it's time for heartbreak. There is one person who can top this least without an effort: @ajrfanz. But trust me. If he breaks my heart again, I am taking him down XD. But heartbreak doesn't end there. I got a bunch of people who can break your heart with ease. Someone who can break it with merely one or two lines: @LovelyNB. Someone who makes us cry and imagine such beautiful yet depressing scenarios simultaneously: @Zoe_n. No, it doesn't end there. I got two more! @arctic and @coldfront. They just like playing around with our heartstrings, I guess.
Now, it's time for siblings! We got lots of them. First off, my dear history mate: @ValiantRaptor47. With him, you got both informative and thrilling posts to read. What a combo! And of course, his sister: @Voidkin_Killer. It doesn't take a long time for her to crack you up with her fun rants. That brings us to our heartbreak and mending pair: @snivyth3 and @Laveenya. You read @snivyth3's poems, you heart gets broken, then you have to go to @Laveenya's profile and read a little something. It's like they have a little evil masterplan! And we have yet another pair of siblings: @VerityMonet and @Carissa. @VerityMonet is one of the most confident, resolved young ladies I am lucky to have met. And her sister, @Carissa, will never let her down too. You will love this duo.
Now, I have a bunch of writers (and good friends) who never ceases to amaze us with their writing abilities. First off: @Rob_Lee. Now this man knows how to craft a story, and he is not even leaving one of them as weak. His profile itself is a masterpiece. And he leaves some of the most heartwarming comments too. Next up: @nightscribbler. Her expertise over language is unmatched in all of Prose! And she is such an amazing person too! Next up: @ana_vega222. If you haven't read any of your poems, you are seriously missing out. Go straight away! Don't care to wait. Fourth up, we have @WhiteWolfe32. I mean, have you even seen his collection of poems? Have you read his chilling stories? Have you visited his super cool website?! Please don't say no. I can also name someone who never stops writing and gives us something everyday. He even has a few books lined up: @1912writer! He is one of our best young men!
Now, this has already crossed over a thousand words, and I not even halfway through. Alright, we are doing a quicker thing.
Some good friends who are not around these days:
@GinelleColour: A young Irish lady, an amazing friend.
@Mara_C: That one person who will pop up when you need it the most.
@MargeauxReed: If it wasn't for her, I wouldn't be here. She was the first person to send me a message, told me what all I had to do with my posts, gave me advices, supported me. I will never forget her.
@MsHannahTweets: I wasn't here when she used to be here. But I read every last one of her stories, and if you haven't, go straight up there. Trust me, you will never regret that.
@thesavyleelyon: One of her stories still has not left my mind, even after several months. I was excited to delve deeper into that story, but well, I never got the chance to.
@TheDreamer: We all know her. There used to be a time when she ruled over the challenges.
@NaomiAdams: That lady who helped me continue a series with her lovely comments.
@Acadec56: A young man who inspired me to do good, and stay as myself.
Some good friends who only stayed with us for a short while:
@Parise_25: A young lady, who had tons to say and write, but never did it. Her poems were always beautiful, and they always will be.
@Rodaina: Just two posts, and both of them are challenge winning stories. And her debut even won the Prose Monthly challenge!
@Shayna13: A good friend for a brief time. She had such wonderful stories to tell.
@Deeksharai: Another good friend who stayed for a short while. She had a book written in Hindi, and was one to stand up for the things she believed in.
@AnnieLParrish: She is a published author. Need I say more?
Now I have to tell about four others: @Celia_Himawari (Formerly @Cass_Wolf, a good friend), @SadieBug (a.k.a Breadcrumbs. I was Jellybeans!) and @Raing0at (or whatever his username is right now XD). And @KacieIuwara (She has a collection of such amazing tales!)
And when I say these names, I also have to say about one mighty young gitl: @mightymanda. There used to be a time when many of us used to be good friends, so... And she is back now, and she is writing more!
Oh my, I will have to list just the names, I guess XD
Some of the best of the best: @KMCassidy (stories are a must read!), @rlove327 (an English teacher and a wonderful author), @EstherFlowers1 (the one with the tiger pfp, need I say more?), @TW (The Wordsmith), @QuietSilence, @poetgreen, @Mfrobs (stellar writing, here it is!), @EvelynDawn (always encouraging!), @SharondaBriggs (the kind of person the world needs more), @KarenKitchel (leaves the most concise, perfect comments), @CatLady1 (she will crack you up.), @Scratch77 and @JulianRace (Masters of Comedy!), @Roses311Sublime (Just go to his profile, you will understand.)
Ernaline (probably the best poet on Prose), anarosewood (Well, there's the contender XD), @TeaRise, @chainedinshadow, @Thereisnospoon, @BonnieBoo, @VividHues (she is a lovely poet!), @LexiCon (If anyone can replace what @Mnezz do one day, it's her.), @tooldtocare (Her trilogy is a must-read!!! MUST-READ!), @James.
@ChristopherHow1: He built a website to write a collaborative novel on mother's love, and I am still sad that I couldn't be a part of it.
@AliPoetry: He even has a newsletter!
Some other lovely names who inspire me to write books:
@thniels: I read his entire book in a day. That explains a lot.
@goldenmel: I am yet to read her books, but I know they will be good!
@Taki: I am yet to read her books too, but I feel the same!!!
@Commentator: He also left me dangling midway through such an amazing sci-fi thriller, but okay, I will forgive him XD I just hope he becomes wildly successful one day.
@EllaCressman: She had a good thriller, gradually unveiling, but again, I could never get to the end.
Well, you know, life and its phases... *sighs* But I do love all of those people behind these names. And they will all forever have a place in my heart. Yes, even after I had written this post back then, a lot of new guests had joined us over here on Prose, and I adore them too. And I do have reasons to believe I had missed out on a lot of people even back then. But please know, guys, it ain't personal XD
To this little family I got here <3
Lots of love,
A Heart-Wrenching Conversation (Funny)
"Oh, are those--" I stuttered, unable to finish my sentence. My heart couldn't bear the pain of such a painful sight.
"Oh," she paused. I could feel the same pain mounting within her heart, "I love them. Why would they do that to such poor things?"
"They will all die down there."
"Gradually-- They'll lose the last breath of air within them, and--" Both of us found it incredibly difficult to hide the pain that crumbled our insides.
"At least, they won't leave this world alone. They have their friends right by their side." I pointed to their side where there were many more of them. "I wish I never had to see this."
"Me too. How can I ever forget them anymore? They'll remain a painful memory I have to--"
"It's okay. They're okay." I said, holding back the tears I wish I could let free.
"I know. It's just-- I love balloons."
"Me too." I sniffed. "Goodness, we really need to grow up!"
But honestly, that was a really hurtful sight. An arch, made entirely of balloons, just thrown away into the middle of nowhere! How cruel could they be to do such a thing? Ah, I'll never get over this trauma XD
But it felt so good to relish that inner child in me once again after a very long time ^-^ I mean, conversations like these are what we all live for, aren't they? Just the best. I mean, sure, I exaggerated a little (a little too much) for creative purposes, but I can assure you the emotions were pretty much the same XD