Book Review: The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

Book Review: The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

Author: Ray Bradbury
Release Date: 1949
Genre: Classic, Science-Fiction, Short Story Collection
Series:
Edition: E-book
Pages: 303
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Blurb:
The strange and wonderful tale of man’s experiences on Mars, filled with intense images and astonishing visions. Now part of the Voyager Classics collection.

The Martian Chronicles tells the story of humanity’s repeated attempts to colonize the red planet. The first men were few. Most succumbed to a disease they called the Great Loneliness when they saw their home planet dwindle to the size of a fist. They felt they had never been born. Those few that survived found no welcome on Mars. The shape-changing Martians thought they were native lunatics and duly locked them up.

But more rockets arrived from Earth, and more, piercing the hallucinations projected by the Martians. People brought their old prejudices with them – and their desires and fantasies, tainted dreams. These were soon inhabited by the strange native beings, with their caged flowers and birds of flame.

REVIEW

★★★★

This is my first book by author Ray Bradbury and needless to say it was a compelling read.
I felt the same sense of a constant hovering of foreboding while reading this book as I felt while reading Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov. Though the writing styles are very different I think the tones of their works are similar to each other.

Even though this book was written ages ago, the arrogance of humans, sadly, still feels precisely fitting. The need to constantly want more, the urge to explore while being completely oblivious and ignorant to how it affects others and the need to be celebrated for doing something that is important to them and them alone is reflected very aptly in this book. The lingering feel of melancholy is something that greatly appealed to my taste.

I’d recommend this book to everyone as this has a lot more to offer than classy sci-fi entertainment. Though, let me give you a heads-up – if you are not into the classic writing styles, you might have to remind yourself constantly throughout reading this book to be patient as, in the end, I assure you that this book is totally worth it.

You can also read this review on Goodreads

A Winter Morning

A Winter Morning

I am a hopeless winter-person – you know, when a person goes overboard in hauling around shawls everywhere, wearing cardigans even when it’s barely cold, wearing socks while sleeping and using a heater or a hot water bag at night to warm the cold feet. I know I am not the only one so I decided to write this piece in order to give a shout out to all those beautiful people who love and adore and cherish winters as much as I do.

***

A Winter Morning

I wake up, suddenly from a dream, and feel the need to get some fresh air. Slowly I get out of bed, not wanting to wake him up as I know he had trouble sleeping early last night. But as soon as I set my feet on the wooden floor of our bedroom, I feel a sharp sting of cold and before I know it, it makes its way stealthily snaking and spreading through my toes and ankles, tickling the bare skin of my feet. I stand up quickly trying to find my slippers when a gust of cold breeze hits my face from the window beside my bed, suddenly my heart swells with happiness – winter is here!

Forgetting what I was about to do next, I quickly make way to the wardrobe, pulling it open frantically, taking out one of my favourite shawls – a pale blue one, oversized and thick. I slip into my slippers pulling the shawl over my shoulders and rush to the study room, which sits next to our bedroom. I open the curtains of the enormous window on the other side of the room overlooking the front garden of our home and the giant of a Gulmohar tree which happily covers half of the view. My hands tremble just a tiny bit with excitement and what I see fills my heart with such an enormous amount of content that  I haven’t known in a long time. It’s still somewhat dark outside, but I can see the faint orange-purplish glow of the rising sun slowly and steadily coming in view. I stand there in awe as the chirping of the birds gets louder and the leaves of the trees start rustling with their activity. The sun keeps rising ever so slowly as the world around me wakes up from their lazy dreams and cosy beds.

Both my cats come to me and rub against my legs purring with as much content as I feel from being a part of this beautiful morning. I sit down in front of the big window on the shag carpet and so does my little beauties. I scratch their backs as one of them settles in the crook of my folded legs and the other one curls right next to me on my shawl, her warm back resting against my thigh. They both start purring in a familiar rhythm, the younger one kneading on my legs looking lazily at me, while the elder one looking out the window considering if she should chase the birds off or sit in the warmth of my shawl.

The birds’ singing is louder now and it feels like they are calling out to the sun. Right then I smell heaven – the aroma of coffee wafting from the kitchen downstairs, not the instant one, but of strong espresso. I can also smell the faint undertones of hazelnut and smile that he has opened the new packet I bought 2 weeks ago. He was asleep when I woke up, but I think my shuffling through the cupboard woke him up and while I was enjoying the view with my furry-little girls, he went down and started the coffee machine. I think I fall in love with him a little more in that moment.

I look around me, then at my girls purring and sleeping and cuddling around me and when, at last, I hear the gentle footsteps of him coming upstairs, the smell of coffee leading ahead of him, I look at the sun that is almost risen completely now, showering me and the girls in its beautiful bright yellow rays that are filtering through the Gulmohar tree, I say a silent thank you to the Universe for all my blessings because at that moment I have everything that I have ever wanted, and will ever need, right there in that room with me.


 

Please note- This material is subject to copyright.

Her

Her

It was a cold, cold day and Emelia was stuck inside her SUV in a snowstorm. It was freezing outside as well as inside. She had been sitting in the car from last 48 hours.

She turned off the heater a while back because she knew the battery of her car won’t last if she’ll keep the heater running for long. According to the reports she heard before getting stuck in this hell, the storm would last for several of days. So far, it had been only 2 days.

The last two days had been the worst days of Emelia’s life, or so she thought. In the initial hours, Emelia refused to believe that she was stuck in the car in the middle of nowhere in a fucking snowstorm. But after a couple of hours when the wind continued howling like a hungry dog and the snow kept falling like there won’t be an end, she realised that she was stuck. Stuck here for good. Soon after this realisation followed panic.

For the next few hours, she cried for help; screaming her lungs out and almost rupturing her vocal cords. She tried to break the glass of her windows, but her fingers were already starting to get numb. Moreover, the glass of her SUV’s windows was not easy to break. This exhausted and frustrated her to no measure. She kept at it but in vain.

Hours later, exhausted, she closed her eyes giving up and that’s when she saw Will smiling at her. The smile she fell in love with, the smile that takes all her worry away, the smile she wanted to go back to. And then it dawned on her that the only thing that will keep her going was hope.

Yes, she can survive this and yes she will make it back. A lot of people do, and that too in much worse situations. So she forced herself to believe that she can too. In spite of the swelling in both her feet and the lower half of her back, in spite of the numbness spreading throughout her arms, she told herself, that it will be over soon.

She tried to focus on the conversation she had with Will just before she left her home – “I need a break, Will. Just a week off from being a wife. I’m tired and you know it. All I’m asking is for you to let me be alone for a few days.”

After a few hours of argument, she was able to convince Will, like she always does, to let her go alone to the Rhode Island. She made him promise to not call her, and knowing that he will, she left her phone at home in the drawer of her study table. How she missed her phone right now. If only she had her phone with her, everything would be fine. Will would come running to rescue her and this nightmare would be over, forever.

But now, that was not possible. Unless someone was stupid enough to leave their home in such a storm and come driving down this stupid forest, that Emelia wanted to explore before driving to The Resort in Rhode Island, no one would know where she was.

She’d been crying a few hours ago, but now crying felt too laborious in such a cold weather. What really scared her though was not the cold that was shutting down her nervous system, or the storm that covered her car with thick snow, or the fact that it was a forest and some big carnivore animal might be lurking around her car. No, she was a strong woman when it came to these things. But what did bother her was the gloom of the sunless sky and the scary sounds the wind was making every time it went swishing around her glass windows. And also, the feeling, deep in the pit of her stomach, that something was terribly wrong, other than this unfortunate situation in which she had landed up, something was not right.

At one point, she thought she heard something, a sort of wailing. But as brave as she was, she still felt fear grip her insides. The glass of her windows was completely covered in fog and snow and it was difficult to see what was outside. She was just able to tell that it was soon turning into night.

The wind was whipping wildly outside, and there it was again. She heard that wailing cacophony again. She sat straighter, and in order to ignore the blood-curdling sound, she started to hum a lullaby that her mother used to sing when she was a child. She tried to literally force herself to sleep, but the cold made it impossible. But the lullaby which she always found comforting, sounded like a death song which was both disturbing and frightening.

All of a sudden there was a loud thud just outside her door. She felt it as much as she heard it as if something heavy hit the door. She tried to peek outside through the frosted glass, but nothing was visible against the grey backdrop of the gloomy dusk. She thought it was some wild animal. Slowly she rose from her seat, and without making any noise shifted to the seat on the passenger side. She was sure that the darkness would conceal her movement.

She tried to calm down her thudding heart telling it that it was nothing but an animal and there was nothing to fear. But when she heard the sobbing of a woman just loud enough to make the hair on her neck rise, she knew, it was no animal. And just then the sobbing turned into a high pitched laughter, so crass and intense that it made Emelia’s teeth chatter.

She looked intently at the glass window on the driving side and thought that she saw a hint of a shadow – a shadow woman with a scarf draped over her head. But only for a second before the outline turned into black smoke and transformed into a shapeless mass.

Frozen, she knew that it was no woman; it was someone else. Someone who is not a living person because no living person will sit and sob and then laugh in the middle of a snowstorm, outside a car that is stuck in the lonely forest in the middle of the night… It was Her, whom no one was supposed to see…


Genre: Supernatural

Note: All views and opinions shared in this post are my own.

Please feel free to give your feedback in the comments section below.

You can read my other stories here.


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Derelict – #Blogbattle

BlogBattle is a weekly short story challenge in which participants write short stories using a single word for inspiration. You can visit the BB’s blog to find out more about it: Blogbattle: Inspired To Write.

This week’s word is Derelict.

Derelict

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Genre: Dark Fiction

The smell of his sweat repels me. The sweat-soaked hair under his arms makes me want to gag. They touch my cheek even when he doesn’t move. But I can’t let this repulsion show on my face. I have no strength to fight with him anymore tonight.

I love him, I remind myself for the thousandth time tonight. I love him. It’ll all get over soon.

I turn my face slowly and look at his face trying to understand what’s going through his mind. He looks shabby and I miss those days when he used to shave and take bath every day (or every other day at least.) He’s turned into someone else entirely. Someone I don’t know. Someone I don’t want  to know.

He laughs at something making an animal sound that starts from his stomach and vibrates in his throat. Sitting this close to him I can feel it when his laugh rises from his belly and comes out of his mouth like he’s throwing up, spittle flying in the air.

I feel his rough stubble on my forehead and try to wiggle out of his suffocating half-embrace. He looks at me annoyed and tightens his grips. He looks at me for a minute before smirking and turning back to the TV.

I can feel the remains of his stale breath on my face. I exhale deeply and try to calm down my nerves. I love him and deep down somewhere he loves me too. 

I try to console myself, but when I think about what he’s become I can’t stop the tears from welling up in my eyes. And in that moment I hate myself. I begin to loathe what I’ve done, regretting the decision of leaving Ben and Adam for this bastard.

But I will not run away this time because this is what I deserve for leaving my baby and my loving husband behind.

***

Please note: This is a work of fiction. 
Any resemblance to any person or thing is purely coincidental.

Evening Tea – #Blogbattle (Jessie #5)

BlogBattle is a weekly short story challenge in which participants write short stories using a single word for inspiration. You can visit the BB’s blog to find out more about it: Blogbattle: Inspired To Write.

This week’s word is Tea.

Evening Tea (Jessie #5)

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Image Source: Pixabay

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

 

I set my cup of tea down on the table careful not to spill it on the white cloth beneath it and, taking a deep breath, I say after gathering myself, “It’s not as easy as you think, Mom.”

“But it is,” She puts her cup down too and leans forward in her seat, “Look, Jess, I know the past year has been really tuff on you – first the accident, then Rick’s affair and then this,” she waves a hand at my belly and continues as if she’s not talking about her only daughter miscarrying her 6 weeks old unborn child, but simply making an observation about a filthy sack full of crap.

Looking at me she sighs heavily and continues, “But sweetie this is not how you deal with your problems. You can’t just take  a break from your life and isolate yourself.” Adding more sugar to her tea, she continues, “You need to keep yourself busy. These things are not that significant dear. look at the bigger picture.”

When I start to protest, she raises a hand and continues her lecture, “All I’m saying is at least try to do something that’ll keep you busy and help you to get your mind off of such things.”

The clinking noise of her spoon makes it difficult for me to maintain a straight face. I start tapping my feet first slowly, then intensely and try to sound nonchalant, “And what exactly do you mean by ‘such things’?”

She looks up at me and furrows her brows for a second and then reclaiming her calm exterior she says, “You know what I mean, your accident, Rick’ betrayal, the baby and your failures on the whole.”

Unable to contain my anger any longer, my voice rises a notch, “My failures? What the hell do you mean by my failures?”

She sips her tea calmly and after patting her mouth with the napkin she says, “I didn’t mean to offend you, Jessie. It’s just a manner of speaking.”

The patting of my feet grows so intense that it starts to hurt me, “Seriously, mom?”

“What?” she says shrugging.

I pick up the spoon next to my cup and start pouring sugar in my coffee not wanting to fall for my mom’s sick game.

“Say something, Jessie. I came all the way here just to talk to you and this is how you treat me?”

I stop pouring sugar in my cup and tighten my grip on the spoon’s handle,”Stop it, Mom. Please. Just stop it!”

She sits straighter, making it clear that she disapproves my tone and says, “No, you stop it, Jessie. You need to face it. We both know that you’re blaming yourself for Rick’s affair. So say as much and be done with it. You can’t feel guilty forever.”

“No, that is so not the case, Mom. I’m not guilty of anything! He cheated on me not because I wasn’t good enough for him, but because he is a worthless piece of shit who doesn’t know what loyalty is. So please don’t go there because that’s really not the case.”

“Oh, but I know that this is exactly what’s troubling you.”

“Oh, so now you are what? A break-up specialist?”

“Well, considering my experiences I think you can call me that.”

Unable to contain the storm brewing inside me I look at her and fixing her with a glare I say gritting my teeth, “Stop it already. You’re doing it again.”

“What am I doing?”

Giving up, I get up with a jerk, pushing the chair behind me, and throw the napkin on the table, “Nothing.”

“Don’t you stomp off in front of me Jessie. I am your mother.”

I stop in my tracks and turning around I try to bite back the words that form in my mouth, but knowing her as well as I do, I let the words out of my mouth, “You’re again getting it all wrong, Mom. And that’s why I was trying to avoid meeting you in the first place. You just love assuming things. You don’t even try to find out what’s really wrong. All you know is to make others feel miserable for all the things that are going wrong in their life.”

“No. That is absurd!”

“Yeah? Well, tell this to someone who hasn’t spend 20 years of their lives living with you under the same roof.”

“That’s enough. I’m leaving.”

“Good for you. And please don’t bother checking up on me after today, because I won’t be staying here anymore.”

She gets up from her chair and throwing her purse over her shoulder she says, “Why? Is this place not good enough for you now that I know where you are?”

I shake my head and release a long breath.

“At least tell your old mother where she can find you in case if there’s an emergency or something.”

“Well, you won’t be calling me in any kind of emergency if you knew where I’ll be.”

She turns around and looks me in the eyes, “Where are you going, Jessie?”

“I’m going to Dewar.”

Her mouth falls open and she turns red. Throwing her off guard this way, even for a minute, makes me feel so much better. She quickly regains her cold composure and narrows her eyes at me as if I’m a 4-year-old girl, “And might I ask where will you be staying?”

“With dad.”

She studies my face for a long time and then quietly makes a beeline for the door but before leaving, she stops abruptly and turns around, “Goodbye, Jessie. I hope you have a great time with your father.”

She spits out the words so ferociously that it feels more like “Rot in hell with your father,” which, I think, is exactly what she wanted to say.

***

You can read the previous parts of Jessie: Story About A Girl series here:

  1. Baking A Pie (Jessie #1)
  2. Ruined Dreams (Jessie #2)
  3. The Sting (Jessie #3)
  4. Autumn (Jessie #4)

NOTE: This is a piece of fiction any resemblance to any person or place (living or dead) is purely coincidental.

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Game Night

Genre: Hillbilly Fiction

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Jon (L,) Jon’s mother (M) and Jon’s father (R)

Jon enters the house with a bright smile on his face. The moment I see him grinning from ear to ear, I smile at him and raise me eyebrows, “What did yer get for me today?”

He shrugs as if tis no big deal and points behind him with a flick of his thumb and says, “The usual.”

I scurry outside leaving Jon in the hall and help his father lift up the heavy game from the trunk of the truck and bring it inside. I can see the anger in his eyes for Jon’s tone. He can be a little selfish at times, but he’s only 25, for god’s sake. I shake me head at him failing to understand why he is so hard with Jon.

As we make our way inside, I see Jon drinking lemonade straight outta the jug and smile at him, “Go ahead and finish it, I’ll make another batch for yerr father.”

Jon gives me a crooked smile spilling half a mouthful on his jeans and sofa and seeing this his father leaves the room mumbling curses.

I shake me head again and sit beside Jon. I lift up the corner of me skirt and wipe his mouth and jeans. Poor lad, working so hard at such a young age.

The game squirms once from under the sack, making me jump.

Jon gets up and kicks it hard, laughing. The squirming stops.

I can see how much Jon enjoys it. I can see the anticipation in his eyes.

Tonight after a long time, we’ll be having real meat.

Nowadays, there’s hardly any game to hunt in these areas. I said as much to Jon and his father last time they came back empty handed, but both of them are stubborn like asses and won’t listen to me about changing our hunting tactics.

Fools I say. Someday one or the other of the two will end up in a mess. But that’s okay, as long as we have meat in our bellies, we’re good to go. And tonight is going to be a grand feast.

The game in the sack is very heavy and awfully big. I think they got a plump one this time. It might even last us till the next hunt if I’ll ration it properly.

Me mouth salivates at the thought of all the dishes that I can make with the succulent meat. I might even get a big chunk of flesh minced and make meatballs in gravy with just the right amount of blood in them – just the way Jon likes it. I can even make some lasagna for Jon’s father. He might get happy and get me the earrings I saw at the store last month.

Jon comes to me and lifts up me chin is his huge hands and says playfully, “We did our part, now tis yerr turn to get yerr hands dirty.”

I get up and ask him to help me drag the game into the kitchen and when tis done I leave for the basement to get mine special knife set that I keep hidden from Jon.

Placing the big butcher knife on the floor beside me, scared to death that the game might be up and might bite me, I open the sack, half expecting the game to lunge at me. But I see that the game’s still half unconscious, I get it out of the sack with great difficulty. It is a plump one and the sight in front of me lights up me heart. Tis a female. All the more delicious and tender flesh.

I untie her hands and legs and sit in position to slit her throat in one clean stroke with me sharpest butcher knife. I raise me hands, knife clutched firmly in me hands and using the brute force of me heavy build I bring down the knife cutting away the neck in a clean blow.

I try to make out the noise that left the game’s mouth at the last moment before I cut off her throat, I guess she said something like, “Please…”

I shrug and look at me handy work and marvel at me art – No once can do such a clean job of chopping off a human body as me can.

***

You can read my other short stories here.

 

Clicked – #Blogbattle

BlogBattle is a weekly short story challenge in which participants write short stories using a single word for inspiration. You can visit Blogbattle’s blog to find out more about it at Blogbattle: Inspired To Write.

This week’s word is Photograph.

NOTE: This is a piece of fiction any resemblance to any person or place (living or dead) is purely coincidental.

CLICKED

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Image Source: Pixabay

Genre: Horror

I place my digital camera – Sony Cybershot – lightly on the rough wooden surface of the coffee table next to me and crouch down to pick up the books from the lower most levels of the bookshelf. I see Needful Things, Grownup, Catch 22, Catch Your Death, Pet Sematary, Cell, Clifton Chronicles series and several other books sitting nicely stacked against each other.

There’re so many books that it’s past time we got a new bigger bookshelf. Ugggh… How many times will I have to argue with Dom  to get the damn thing? Looks like I’ll have to do it myself.

I shake my head in frustration, huffing a frustrated sigh, and pick up half of the books stacked against each other in the second last level, and gently keep them on the floor beside dozens of other books that rested harmoniously on the cream colored marble floor in lazy heaps.

After putting the remaining half of the books, from the same level, on the floor beside others, I grab my camera and take a few pictures of the books that I just kept on the floor. This is my way of keeping a tab on the books I have. Easy and hassle free.

I press the ‘preview’ button and check the pictures I just took, and that’s when I hear a loud thud from the other room.

What the hell?

I keep the camera as it is with preview window open back on the coffee table facing away from me and go to the bedroom to check.

As soon as I enter the room I feel a cold current of electricity run through my body in a matter of a split second. At it felt like electric current to me. The hair on my arms and legs rise and I stand at my place dumbfounded. I shake my head to get back my bearings and discarding it for a shuddering I enter the room.

The first thing that I notice is that the bedroom, somehow, seems unnaturally placid. I mean there’s obviously no one here, still it feels quaint to be here right now. Trying to ignore a strange feeling rising in the pit of my stomach I look around the room to find everything in order. There’s nothing misplaced or fallen on the ground.

Honestly, I was expecting to see the pile of folded clothes on the floor as I knew the window next to it was open, but when I check, the pile is sitting neatly where I left it in the morning next to the window.

Where did the sound come from? 

Maybe the noise came from the kitchen or outside and I mistook it for the bedroom. In spite of my gut telling me that the noise came from the bedroom, I drop the matter thinking it might have been Tom, the street cat, or some squirrel running around outside the window or maybe a bird or something else.

I return to the study room and make my way to the bookshelf on the right-hand side wall. But as soon as I lower my head to see the floor, I find everything scattered on the floor.

What the fuck?

All the piles of my books are lying on the floor as if someone kicked them. More than a few pages of my once neatly bind books are lying around scattered about the disheveled books. After a few seconds of shock, I notice that most of the books are not only just scattered around the floor, but are torn apart.

My heart starts beating fast thinking about who could have done so. My anger flares up in an instant and I start cursing, Tom, who visits me every now and then. I’m sure now that it is his doing.

It has to be!

I sit down on the floor, picking up the torn books carefully, one by one, trying my best to control the tears welling up in my eyes and that’s when I hear it.

Click.

My head snaps up to look at the camera, sitting on the coffee table just where I left it, but instead of facing away from me it is facing at me. My heart starts beating fast but I try to tell myself that I might have kept it like this in the hurry to go to the bedroom, or maybe Tom did it… but I know it’s not possible. I remember clearly how I kept the camera when I left

Click. Click. Click.

I freeze at my place and before I could even blink, a cold shiver runs through my body again. Just like before.

I muster all the courage I could and get up from the floor, not taking my eyes off the camera. Its lens looks like it’s staring right back at me, daring me to see what it has captured.

My heart thumping loudly in my ears I take calculated steps towards the wooden coffee table and my camera. Sweat starts dripping down from the sides of my head and the hair on my neck start to rise as I get closer to the camera.

I stop, just long enough to quickly glance around the room, as if to make sure there’s no one around. I feel completely jittered and my throat starts to feel dry.

I start to rethink the entire situation. Maybe it was my imagination playing tricks on me? Maybe it wasn’t a click that I heard, but some other noise from outside? Maybe Tom is still inside the house trying to find food in the kitchen and making all these noises there?

Or maybe I’m just freaking out?

Click. Click. Click.

I immediately look at the camera and notice that it has shifted a little from it was a minute ago.It is a little sideways now. But how in the hell is it even possible?

I hate to face it, but I guess there’s something around.

I try to back away from the camera carefully, one step behind the other. But just as I reach the place where I was sitting, the clicking starts again.

Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click.

I turn around and dash for the door. As soon as I’m out the room I shut the door behind me. I try to catch my breath but the frantic clicking noise makes me feel dizzy. It’s getting more and more urgent now…

Please, someone, stop it!

Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click…

I cover my ears with my hands and run towards the bedroom. Entering the room I close the door behind me and bolt it shut. I wipe the tears and sweat off my face and feeling increasingly hysterical I pat my pockets searching for my cell phone. But then I realize that I left it next to the shelf on the floor in the study room.

Shit. Shit. Shit.

I sit on the bed and try to steady my ragged breathing. I wait for a few heartbeats to let the feeling of nausea pass and then start thinking about a way to go outside and get my phone back. Dismissing the idea, I look around the room frantically in hopes to find something. Anything.

And that’s when my eyes land on the pile of folded clothes neatly sitting by the window and there, under the bright light of the sun, my eyes land on the camera sitting on top of Dom’s light blue shirt, facing towards me.

And right then, I hear the sound that’ll haunt me for each and every waking second of the rest of my life.

Click.


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The Next Worst Thing (Annihilation #2) – #Blogbattle

The Next Worst Thing (Annihilation #2) – #Blogbattle

BlogBattle is a weekly short story challenge using a single word for inspiration. You can visit Rachael’s blog to find out more about #blogbattle- Writing Rachael Ritchey.

This week’s word: Leviathan.


Annihilation (Part #1)


The Next Worst Thing

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Genre: Dystopian, Apocalyptic Fiction, Young Adult

Lilly, Grandma and I sit in our rocking boat hugging each other tightly, waiting for our doom. Waiting for the Others to come and get us, but all of a sudden a silence falls upon us all like a heavy veil.

I open my eyes hoping against hope that the swishing noises we heard from the water around our boat were not others, but when I look around us all I can see in the dim moonlight and a few odd reflections of moon and lightening on the surface of the water.

The river is eerily quiet as if it’s scared to make even the tiniest of gesture. I squeeze Lilly and Grandma’s hands and move my right index finger to my lips motioning for them to be quiet. The clouds above roar, and thick droplets of water start falling on us making the already dreadful darkness seem gloomier by the second. The darkness around us coupled with the rain makes my heart heavy with fear and my breathing comes in small gasps.

Lightning strikes the dark sky as if announcing the hour of the Others and making us feel insignificant in the vast dark river.

We are bone wet and shivering from the cold. I look at Lilly and Grandma’s pale faces and realise that the temperature is dropping, fast. And out of nowhere a loud wail tears through the silence like a sharp spear making all of us  literally jump out of our skins.

We cover our ears in a feeble attempt to block the sharp and chillingly scream and that’s when I realise that the Others are gone. They’ve left us. But after listening to the second wail it dawns on me that the Other’s have not left us, they’ve run away.

Forgetting about what the loud wail could be, I grab a set of drenched pedals after thrusting one set in Grandma’s hands and start rowing fiercely in the direction in which we were headed earlier. I feel sorry for her, but I can’t help it. Right now we need to get away from this river before it, whatever it is, get to us.

Rowing the boat with all my strength leaves my mind wandering back to the wails we heard. It’s quite again and right now I hate the silence more than ever. All my life I’ve preferred silence over everything, but right now it might lead us to us our deaths.

My mind starts racing again, what could have wailed so loudly? I can’t even begin to imagine what kind of a creature can scream like this. But I do know one thing- I need to make it to the Camp on the other side before Others or that screaming thing get to us.

The wail rises again, this time, it’s louder than before and after a few agonising seconds as the wail drops I realise that it’s not getting louder, it is getting closer. I hope that it isn’t the Others, because frankly, I don’t think anything could be worse that having Others feed on our blood and flesh.

Whatever it is, I’m not a fool to let go of this miraculous opportunity to get the hell out of this river. I don’t have the time to sit here and ponder what could have chased the Others away from living flesh.

Guess we’ll have to find out about it afterwards, that is, if we survive the next ten minutes.

#

Relief floods over every tissue in my body as our tiny boat hits the ground. Without even waiting to catch my breath I jerk Lilly out of her seat and, pulling at Grandma’s hands, I literally drag them out of the boat within two seconds.

We straightaway make a dash for a tall concrete building standing just a few yards away from us. It looks strong and is a quick glance around it ensures me that it is deserted. We hide behind the building taking cover of the darkness. Sitting down with my back to the rough and grey concrete wall, I try to catch my breath.

Lilly and Grandma also do the same following suite. I turn towards my little sister and touch her button nose with my fingers. She hasn’t said a word since last night. And now that I think of it, she hasn’t spoken much in the last two weeks after the Other’s killed mom.

Looking at Lily’s dirt-covered chubby face I feel a pang of anger so deep that I feel a sharp pain in the pit of my stomach. She’s too young for all this. It isn’t fair. I shake my head in frustration and that’s when I hear a wailing similar to before coming from just behind the building.

It’s too close to ignore and run again exposing ourselves. I grab Lilly’s arm making a promise to myself that I won’t let anything happen to her or Grandma, I lean towards my left a little making sure I won’t be seen from the other side. And as I sit there trying to understand what could have made such a noise, the water of the river splashes wildly and I see a 100ft shadow rise from the river.

Words leave my mouth unbidden as panic grips my insides, “What the hell…?” And right then it turns to face me and, locking its with mine, it lets out another wail, but this time, it is so loud that I almost faint because of its impact.

Lily tugs at my hand with her trembling ones and asks me in a shrill voice, “What is it, Kia?”

I turn back to her, my face a white mask of fear, and say in a tiny voice , above the loud wailing, barely audible to my own ears, “a leviathan.”

***


ANNIHILATION (PART #1)


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Weep A While Longer

Weep A While Longer

I’ve decided to participate in Rachael Ritchey‘s awesome weekly prompt- BlogBattle. I came across it through a very dear friend’s blog- Phoenix Grey. You can visit Rachael’s blog to find out more about #blogbattle- Writing Rachael Ritchey

BlogBattle rules:

  1. 1000 words max
  2. fictional tale (or true if you really want)
  3. PG (no more than PG-13) Content – let’s keep this family friendly! (this week will be difficult, I know. That’s a somewhat violent word! Remember, use your imagination. 🙂 )
  4. Your story must contain the word(s) from the theme and/or be centered around the theme in a way that shows it is clearly related
  5. Go for the entertainment value!
  6. Use the hashtag #BlogBattle, put a link back to your #BlogBattle Short Story in the comments section of this post, and/or include a link to this post in your own blog post (it creates a “ping-back” which will alert me and our friends to your #BlogBattle post)
  7. Have fun!

BlogBattle is based on the concept of one-word prompt writing. This week’s BlogBattle word prompt: Feather.

Here’s my entry for this week:

Weep A While Longerspring-1228678_1280

Genre: Dark Fiction

I open my eyes and the brightness surrounding me makes me squint. It’s white everywhere. Where am I?

I try to push myself up from where I’m lying expecting a hard ground beneath my body but it’s too soft to be mud or leaves. I immediately pull my hands away and turn to look what lies beneath me. Feathers – crisp white and tiny.

Sitting up I smile at myself grabbing a hand full of delicate feathers that are lying all around me. There’re so many that this place is looking white from roof to roots.

I blow the handful of feathers in my hand and they rise up in the air as if they have a life of their own. And just as those lovely feathers start to come down, I hear a giggle from behind.

For a second my heart stopped beating. No, it can’t be. Is this a dream?

I look around me at the feathers. Of course, it is a dream. I get up slowly trying to decide whether I really heard Mike’s voice or was it just my imagination. My whole body is moving slow as if moving fast will wake me up for real and I’ll lose this beautiful dream missing a chance to see Mike.

I hear his giggles again. This time I turn around so fast that I almost loose my footing. And when I look at the other side of the room, I see the most beautiful sight in the world- Mike sitting in his crib, waving at me and giggling.

Tears start running down my eyes as I run towards him. I feel as if I’ll explode with all the joy that is bubbling inside me. I reach out with my hand seeing Mike trying to get up holding the bars of the crib.

I’m running towards him, but then I realise that I’m still far away from him.

I try to run faster, and faster, to the point where my feet loose footing several times. I get up and run again, the dark cloud of panic settling over my heart.

“Mike. Don’t worry sweetie. Mommy’s coming.” I’m screaming like a mad woman now. But I’m nowhere near Mike. It feels like I’m still standing at the far corner of the room where I woke up.

I stop and look around to figure out a way to get to him before everything fades away- like it always does. I get down on my knees and frantically try to crawl through the feathers lying on the ground, trying to make my way to Mike.

A fog starts to settle in the room and now I can’t even see Mike clearly. “Don’t worry, Mike. mommy’s here, sweetie.”

I try to run again, but it’s of no use. I try to see through the fog and after a lot of trouble I’m finally able to see the outline of his crib. But what I notice nearly stops my heart. I can’t see him anymore. Slowly the fog starts to lift up, just the way it settles without any warning. And the scene in front of me knocks the wind out of me. Mike’s crib is empty. “No, no, no, no, no, no, no.. this can’t be happening again. No, no. Please, no! Mike, Mike! Come to mommy Mike. Mommy is here to take you with her.”

But there’s no sign of him or his sweet giggles.

I slump down on the ground among the feathers and stare at the empty crib in front of me. And all of a sudden I hear Mike’s sobs coming from my right.

I turn to see where he is, but instead of my sweet Mike I see a lot of feathers… and a big red patch soaking through them. And as the realisation dawns on me, I know that I’ve failed him again. Blood- my Mike’s blood. And here I am, witnessing the death of my 1-year-old child for the hundredth time.

***


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Annihilation

Annihilation

This short story/flash fiction is written for the photo prompt at Describli.


The Next Worst Thing (Annihilation #2)


Annihilation

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Genre: Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic, Young Adult

I make my way quietly to the other side of the road, hiding in the shadows of the cars on the road.

I turn back for a second and sneak a look at the frail figures of Lilly and Grandma worming their way slowly behind me. If I’d been alone I would have already crossed the North Fork last week. But I’m not. I have a responsibility. And I’m not ready to abandon it, unlike Ian.

I don’t blame Ian for deciding to leave us behind. I understand the need of surviving. I know that the presence of a 70-year-old lady and a 5-year-old girl is a sure way to death, but I don’t care about that. I’ve already lost enough to be scared of death. Death can’t do me any harm. I just want to make sure that before the Others get me I’ll get grandma and Lilly to the safety of the Camp.

The Camp is beyond the river on North Fork. If we continue our journey tonight we’ll be there by tomorrow afternoon. But that is if we continue tonight. I can already hear Lilly complaining to grandma about her sore legs. I know she won’t admit it, but even grandma is looking tired, really tired.

As soon as I cross the road, I sit beside a car that is standing at an awkward angle on the side of the road. Three doors are open as if the family sitting inside got out of the car and ran when the Others came out of the ground wailing.

Well, I hope that they made it alive and are safely tucked into soft beds at the Camp at this moment. The idea makes me smile- a warm bed, a soft pillow and a good night’s sleep- the simple pleasures of the world before the Others took over. We took them for granted never realizing that we had everything we ever wanted. But we humans always craved for something better. More. Always more.

I sigh heavily trying to change the track my thoughts are leading me towards. Right now I would kill anyone to get a good night’s sleep.

Grandma and Lilly sit beside me, listening to the sounds of the night carefully. Trying to listen to anything that sounds out of place. By now it’s almost second nature to us. The Others always make this swishing noise when they walk or move, or whatever the hell they do with their knees bent in awkward directions, gliding on the ground. Face tilted sideways and wearing the same expression- a bloodcurdling smile that stretches from ear to ear.

I motion for them to follow me to the dark shop in front of us. Its door is ajar and it looks mostly abandoned. We can rest here for an hour or two and then continue.

#

I wake up to the sound of a loud screaming. My hand automatically reaching for the gun resting on my coat. It’s a distant screaming. The Others are here.
I wake up Grandma and Lilly slowly shaking them. They know enough to not make any noise even if I startle them every time I do this.

They wake up and like me reach for their weapons, a worn baseball bat and a butcher’s knife for Grandma.

We slowly move, not walk, but move without lifting our feet off the ground. Making a noise like a windblown dirt would make in an open field. That’s the way to move when Others are around. We figured it the night Mom died.

Slowly we go towards the back door and move towards the trees that line the other side of the shop.
Woods are always a safe place, so many animals walking, it confuses the Others. We move faster as we make it into the forest.
The sun will be out in less than an hour, then we’ll be able to walk, or if we’re lucky, run. We need to make it to the Noth Fork by tonight. We’ve already tested our luck more than a dozen times. And I have a feeling that it won’t be long before the Others get us.

We continue without stopping and as the sun starts rising, so does our hope- like every single day from last 2 weeks.
But it will end today. We’ll go to the safety of the Camp and as far away from the others as we can.

#

The sun is setting as we make the final turn. I can see the Camp in the distance. The evening light plays tricks with our vision and the Camp itself looks like a mirage or an elusive dream that’ll vanish the moment we’ll step closer.

But as we continue to walk towards it, it becomes clearer and clearer and we know that we’ve made it. Finally, we’ve beaten all the odds and made it to the Camp. I’m sure Ian will be embarrassed to see that his little sister made it to the Camp without abandoning the seemingly useless baggage.

There are a few boats resting on the riverside along with a couple of worn off paddles in them. We quickly get onboard and Grandma and I start paddling with hurrying motions, well aware that the sun has almost set.

As we drift closer to the Camp I start to have a weird feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Something’s not right.

And as the realization dawns on me, I hear the swishing noise around our boat.

I look up at the darkening sky- the sun has set.

***


The Next Worst Thing (Annihilation #2)


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A Lost Memory (Bianca Brown #1)

A Lost Memory (Bianca Brown #1)

This short story/flash fiction is written for the photo prompt at Describli.

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Finding A Diamond

Genre: Fantasy

I wake up with a start, completely unaware of everything. I sit up with a jerk and wonder where am I? I look around myself and realize that I don’t even know who the hell am I.
I try taking deep breaths. In and out, in and out. I reach with my hands and touch the mattress and a the tangled covers, trying to figure out my whereabouts.

I pat  beside me and realize that someone is in the bed with me. What the heck! I get out of the bed quickly, fumbling with the covers. The guy beside me wakes up and sits up rubbing the sleep from his eyes, “What happened, sweetie? You okay?” He looks at me furrowing his eyebrows.

From the faint moonlight that is coming through the glass windows of the room, I see his handsome face. Somehow I feel that I know him, but how, I can’t say. Well, he is in my bed, so obviously, I had to know him. But right now I can’t remember him.

“Who are you? What is this place? And who am I?” I try to sound as calm as possible but hearing my own words I know that I’m already sounding panicky.

“It’s okay, baby. Doctor said that it might happen.” He takes a deep breath and pat beside him, where I’d been sleeping. “Sit down and I’ll explain you everything.”

I know that something’s not right, but I can feel that this good-looking guy is definitely not a threat. I sit beside him and take a few calming breaths. After a minute, when I feel a little relaxed, I look at him expectantly.

He smiles and says, “My name is Jerry. Yours is Bianca, but we all call you B. I’m your fiancé and in two months we’ll be getting married, so you can relax.” He smiles again and says, “4 months ago you had an accident that affected your memory, severely. Some days you remember everything but some days you can’t. It has happened before, more than a dozen times, so please just try and relax. Okay? I’m sure that by tomorrow morning you’ll be just fine.”

What? I sigh heavily rubbing my face with my hands. Well, I knew something wasn’t right but I also knew that somehow I’ve been through this before. It does not come as a complete shock; I guess losing your memory, again and again, wears you off at some point. I think my brain is getting used to it now because I’m not freaking out the way I should. Whatever it is, I’m feeling better now, more composed. Guess that’s how I am, I mean nature wise. Well, we’ll see tomorrow.

I lie down facing my back to him, curled up in a ball and trying to forget what just happened. Maybe it is a bad dream and all I have to do is wake up.

#

The loud screeching of the alarm clock wakes me up at 7:00 am.

I turn it off and make my way to the bathroom. J is brushing his teeth, a white towel wrapped around his waist. I go to him and hug him from behind, “Good morning, J.”

He smiles at me looking at my reflection in the mirror and says through the bubbles in his mouth, “Hey, you’re up.”

I nod, still hugging him. For some reason, I’m feeling restless and insecure. I know it sounds exaggerated but due to my medical condition I feel like this most of the time. He turns around once he’s done, wiping his face with a small towel and tossing it on the stand. He hugs me saying, “are you okay?” I hear a slight tense note in his voice. What is it?

I try to ignore it and say, “Yep. Just a little tired, I guess.”

“Hmm. You remember anything from last night?”

I freeze for a second, my whole body tensing up. But when I look at him, the expression on his face looks relaxed, so I’m guessing that I didn’t do anything stupid, like last time when I started yelling when I saw him in the bed next to me. I shake my head, trying to remember what happened. But all I can remember is, after having dinner at The Ivy, we came to J’s place, made love, twice, and then we slept. “I hope I didn’t trouble you,” I say unsure of what to expect.

“Oh, no. Nothing like that. In fact, you were surprisingly calm last night. I mean, maybe you’re getting used to it now.”

“I guess.” I smile at him weakly. I know he means it in a good way, but the thought, that I’m getting “used to it,” is not making me feel any better. This is not how I want to spend my life. This is not who I am.

“Come on now, we have to get ready for…”

“Yea, I remember. Breakfast with mom.”

I go to my cupboard to see what I’m going to wear today. I go through all the dresses that are hanging and decide to wear the blue frock. I hear the bathroom door click- J is taking a bath. I immediately unlock the small metallic side-pocket- that is under the cupboard drawer, behind my undergarments- and open it. I take out the glistening black diamond from it. I hid it here the day I came back from the hospital.

I caress the smooth surface of the beautiful stone and remember the words I hear in my sleep every night since the day I lost my memory- The diamond will show you the way. Don’t let anyone see it.

I don’t know how I got it or what it does, but I do know, for sure, that somehow it belongs to me. No one ever mentioned it, but I am sure that it is something that no one knows about, at least not in my family.

It is my little secret and some day I will find out the real truth. The truth that everybody is trying to hide from me – The memory  that no one wants me to remember.


 

Note: All views and opinions shared in this post are my own.

Please feel free to give your feedback in the comments section below.

You can read my other stories here.


 

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Free – After A Long Time

Free – After A Long Time

This short story/flash fiction is written for the photo prompt at Describli.


oil-317x159
Photo prompt

This is it… Today is the day…

Today I’ll meet him almost after 10 years.

We’ve been complete strangers since the day I left my old town with my mother.

I waited for him to contact me for a long, long time. But he never did. And so, I gave up waiting for him. He was the one who wanted me gone, so how could I have reached out to him. I remember the day he told me to go, he didn’t even come to the station to say goodbye.

At one time, he was my world, my first love, my superhero, my provider, my saviour, my everything. But then, he was nothing.

He didn’t even come when I graduated. He didn’t even come when I got married, he didn’t even come when I had a child, but yesterday night, out of the blue, I got his call, after 10 lonely years, saying only 3 words – Can we meet.

And after the exchange of a few more words, I’m standing here in the rain, waiting for him like I did a lifetime ago. Yes, it does feel like a lifetime. I thought that I’ve learned to live without him, but yesterday after his call, I realised just how much I really missed him and he did in fact, meant something to me after all these years of living my life without him, the most important man in my life.

I tap my feet on the moist ground below me, the crunching of leaves making me more nervous. But why am I nervous? He should be the one who should be nervous, cause he wanted me to leave that day. He was the one who sent me packing to a new town, amongst strangers, alone.

For 3 years I waited for his call day and night. I was so desperate to get him back that I had no idea how to live anymore. So, I did what I had to do to drown my suffering. I got into smoking and drinking. I became a rebel and made my mom hate me for it. I became a loner, a nobody.

But when after 3 years I realised that he will never call me, I finally started to pull my life together. It took me a long, long time. And finally, when I was living a happy life with my family, he rises from the dead and simply calls me. As if we just had dinner last week.

Why? Who the hell does he think he is? How can he even think that he can ask me to see him? And why the hell am I here?

This is a bad idea… I really should not be here. I must go back, to my family who loves me for who I am.

I shake my head and get up from the bench, pulling my raincoat tighter around me.

I’m leaving. He deserves to be stood up. To be left alone.

And just as I’m about to leave… I see him.

He’s walking slowly towards me, from the other side of the road. And as soon as he’s close enough for me to see his face clearly, a sob escapes my mouth.

And somehow, after all, these years of pain and suffering and living like an orphan, I still feel that somehow his presence is going to make everything alright.

After all, he’s my father and he’ll always be.


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You can read my other stories here.


 

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Autumn (Jessie #4)

Autumn (Jessie #4)

Jessie is a Contemporary Fiction short-story series about a girl named Jessie. This series is written on photo-prompts and includes emotional themes of love, family, support, getting over fears, etc.

Each part of this story is written for the photo-prompts at Describli.

You can read the other parts of this series here: Baking A Pie (Jessie #1), Ruined Dreams (Jessie #2) and The Sting (Jessie #3)


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Autumn

Six months later…

I wake up to Juno’s loud barking. He always wakes me up this way and, to be honest, I love it. It makes me feel like he cares for me enough to come running to me first thing after getting up in the morning. It makes me feel needed.

I get out of the bed and go to the big glass window that overlooks the lake in front of my cottage. I wait just for a second, pulling the robe around me tighter, and then I throw back the curtains.

The beautiful view literally takes my breath away. It’s September, the beginning of autumn and everything’s covered in the glorious red-brown leaves in front of the house. Except, of course, the shimmering water of lake. The sunrays are reflecting beautifully at the green water surface of the lake making it look surreal. It feels like I’m living in a storybook.

I stand there, taking in the beautiful view and breathing slowly, peacefully, filling my insides with the pure morning breeze. I smile at a small bird drinking water from the lake and mentally pat my back for deciding to come here.

It’s been six months and here I am, finally, making peace with my decision of leaving that stupid city and coming to this isolated island. I love it here, and I think that I’m starting to get over Riki. I don’t miss him like the way I used to just after he left me.

I really needed this time, alone. It was over due.

Its like he was so utterly perfect for me that I didn’t even give myself a chance to even think about someone else. And now that he’s gone, somewhere inside me, I’m feeling relieved. As if unconsciously I’ve always known that I’d always liked him, but maybe not loved him.

Yes, I miss him, but mostly because I was so used to him, like a person is used to eating meds. He was like a drug for me; I though I’d die without him, but in reality, letting him go of him freed me.

It’s hard to live without him because I’ve always been emotionally dependent on him, since childhood. It’s that dependence that I really wanted to get rid of by distancing myself from the city, were there were so many memories.

I feel liberated here. The moment I stepped onto this island, I felt like something inside me got free. Maybe my will. Earlier, I always did what Riki wanted me to do, or more correctly, what he expected me to do. He never directly asked me to do anything, never, it was like, I always knew what he wanted and always did that before he even asked for it. That’s why everyone thought that we were so compatible. That’s why I thought we were so ridiculously compatible.

Maybe it’s the same for him, but I really don’t want to think about him, at least not when he just dumped me.

I scratch Juno’s ears and then go to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee. After ten minutes, I’m sitting in the front porch, sipping my coffee and petting Juno. It feels so free to not do anything and relax. Without worrying about what Riki needs. Now that I think of it, my entire life has gone in worrying about him and his small-small needs. I never even let myself think about what I really liked or what I wanted to do.

Riki was such a huge part of my life. We were childhood sweethearts. He is my mother’s best friend’s son so, naturally, we spent almost all our childhood together. When we were teens, he made a lot of other friends, embarrassed to be around a girl all the time, but I was always stuck up on him, alone. I just kept to myself and waited for him to come back to me again. I started dressing up and applying make-up and all those teen-things a girl does to attract guys.

But to my utter disappointment, when we were in high school, he started seeing someone else. It broke my heart, but still I never left hope and once we were in college, Riki was finally able to see my love. It was just a matter of time before he proposed to me for marriage and since that day we’ve been inseparable. That is, until he found someone else.

What a pity, I never realized that I could have done a lot better than this. I should have gone out and made some new friends, but no, I was always too shy to even talk to others. I always kept to myself and always thought that Riki was the one for me, without even actually thinking about it.

I close my eyes and rub my face, sighing deeply. I’m only twenty-four and even though I don’t have a career, I can do what I like now.

I have enough money to last me a lifetime and, now that I don’t have anyone who needs me, I also have enough time. But the question is, do I have the strength to start my life from scratch, especially with a small baby?


The Sting (Jessie #3)


A Cup Of Tea

A Cup Of Tea

This short piece is written for Describli‘s photo prompt – Afternoon Tea.


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A Cup Of Tea

She looks so beautiful that it pains my eyes even to look at her.

She is all that I ever dreamt of – delicate as a flower and strong as a rock,

Sweet as a spoonful of sugar and caring as a mother.

She is the only one for me, I know. But am I the one for her, I wonder.

She walks towards me, her walk lazy as a night.

She caresses my cheek and smiles that beautiful smile, for which I left everyone behind.

She hands me a cup of tea and says, “Drink my love, I made it especially for you.”

She looks at me as I slowly raise the cup to my lips, smiling at me like a summer breeze.

She looks me in the eye and says, “I love you, darling. But forgive me for this.

For my heart belongs to someone else. But I promise that I will never forget you.

Now sleep peacefully, oh my innocent lover, and dream of me for eternity.”

I close my eyes, drinking the last of the my tea and poison in that she lovingly added in it,

And looking in her eyes I try to forget about everything.

Her words are like a sweet lullaby.

I close my eyes, and see her beautiful face fading away.


Read some of my other short-stories/flash-fiction-stories here.

Wrong Turn

This short-story (1,000 words) is written for the photo-prompts at Describli.


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We make our way to The Pit. I have no idea where it is or even what it is. I came here just yesterday and when I got up in the morning, I noticed that everyone was in a hurry of bathing and getting ready; as if they were preparing for some festival. Intrigued, I asked my hut-mate about it and upon learning that even he had only a vague idea, I decided to go with the flow, just like him.

I got dressed in the spare pants I was carrying in my bag and a loose t-shirt. My clothes are still dirty as I had no time to wash them up last night. These will have to do as I’ve lost my other bag, the one in which I had all my clothes and money. Not that I’m complaining, nope, if it hadn’t been for that wrong turn, I would have never come upon this amazing tribe – Kaluha. I was just wondering about where to go while trying to make my way through the dense forest and that’s when, all of a sudden, I saw a campfire twinkling in the distance.

I went close to investigate and came upon a group of teens roasting a rabbit and dancing funnily around the fire. They were dressed only in a bunch of leaves tied around their waist. To be honest, I was a little scared to even talk to them and decided to turn around to leave quietly, but that’s when one of them saw me and made a loud bird sound. In a few seconds I was surrounded by two dozen of their tribesmen. I was scared shitless but then a guy, whom I assume to be their leader, stepped in front and spoke to me in broken English. He explained to me that they are a tribe who live in this part of the forest. After I told him that I’m lost, he asked me to join them for dinner, very kindly

After having a brilliant dinner of a meat – honestly, I don’t know which animal it was, but I’m sure it wasn’t any that I’ve had before and trust me, I’ve almost had all the animals, at least the edible ones – they asked me to stay with them for a couple of days. I graciously accepted their hospitality, welcoming the break from the normal city life. I was lead to a hut where I met Brian, a guy who was also lost in the woods. I slept on the pile of leaves, beautifully arranged as bed and here I am now, following a crowd of wild tribesmen along with my new friend, Brian. We are one of the last ones in the crowd.

“You think they are celebrating something?” Brian asks me quietly.

“I guess so, but hopefully not our arrival.”

He snorts, “Yea. But if it is for us then I hope they might offer us a girl or two from their tribe as a welcome gift.”

I laugh at that, “Yea, you wish.”

All of a sudden everyone stops. We follow suite and stand at our places looking at each other. Within a few seconds everyone starts to turn around to look at us. We stand there, looking at the blank faces of all these tribesmen and wondering, “What the hell’s going on?” I look at Brian and raise  my eyebrows in question. He shrugs and gives me blank look.

It’s really starting to get awkward now and just as I’m about to make my way to the front to ask the leader what’s going on, I see that the crowd is starting to shift a little, making way for him. He approaches us with a smile on his face and I look at Brian, who is starting to look a little pale. I poke him lightly in the ribs and joke, “Guess they heard you.” He gives me an uneasy smile that  makes me wonder why is he looking so scared. The leader comes to me and says, “We have a tradition of welcoming our guests and as he came here first,” he motions towards Brian and continues, “today we’ll be welcoming him.”

I nod at him smiling, “I understand,” happy not to be the first one.

He motions for Brian to come go ahead of him and Brian complies. I follow the leader not wanting to be alone at the back. We make our way to the front, all the tribesmen still watching us, making me feel nervous. Reaching the front I see that there’s a massive pit dug into the ground. Figures.

The leader takes Brian by hand, gently and asks me to wait there. They start walking towards the pit and all of a sudden the leader kicks Brian from behind, sending him face first into the pool. I try to process what just happened but by the time the reality of my situation dawns on me, it’s too late. Two tribesmen are holding my hands so tightly that my hands are starting to feel numb.

I look where Brian’s shouts are coming from inside the pit and notice, for the first time, that there are a lot of dirty bones, lying on the ground. Oh shit!

Brian is shrieking now. God only knows what they are doing to him in there. Seeing the bones I know that whatever it is, it’s not good. I try to free myself from the two tribesmen but they start to laugh at my feeble attempts. After a few minutes, I see the leader walking towards me.

As he approaches me, I ask him shouting, “Why? Why are you doing this?”

He laughs and says, “If we won’t kill you then how will we get enough meat to feed our tribe?”


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The Sting (Jessie #3)

The Sting (Jessie #3)

Jessie is a Contemporary Fiction short-story series about a girl named Jessie. I’m still not sure where I’m going to go with this series, but I’m sure to include emotional themes of love, family, support, getting over fears, etc.

Each part of this story is written for the photo-prompts at Describli.

You can read the other parts of this series here: Baking A Pie (Jessie #1) and Ruined Dreams (Jessie #2)


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The Sting

I spend the entire evening crying, sitting at the same place where Riki was siting when he broke the devastating news to me.

I wipe my face and get up to get myself some water. After drinking a glass of water I come back to the sofa and check my phone – there are 38 missed calls from Riki and about a dozen texts.

I put the phone down, as I don’t have the strength to talk to him or read any of his texts. I’m sure he’s just trying to tell me the reasons for leaving me.

I don’t know why but people think that somehow giving excuses will make everything right.

Right when I’m about to go inside my phone vibrates again. Why is he doing this?

I check my phone; this time it’s an email from him. I let out an exasperated sigh and open the mail. The first thing that I notice is that he’s addressed it like a letter – Dear Jess, – and the second thing I notice is that it’s one hell of a long email.

Grief makes me think funny; I guess it’s my way of coping.

I read the mail:

Dear Jess,

I know you well enough to know that you don’t want to listen to any of my excuses for falling in love with someone else. And I also know that you don’t even want to know who it is, but it is important to me. I wanted to stay there and tell you everything but I knew that you needed time to take in everything and that’s the only reason I left you alone today. But trust me, I hate myself for doing this to you.

You remember last month we went to the doctor, and he said that your chances of conceding a child are less than 2%, that’s the time it actually hit me that your accident has really changed our life forever. I was really lost after that. I didn’t tell you anything because I knew you were already dealing with a lot of things – surgery after surgery and of course the shock of not being able to a mother.

That was the time when I came close to Julia. I first met her six months ago through a client and since then she’s been trying to meet me.  I wanted to get rid of her, that’s why I decided to meet her once and tell her to get lost, but as it turned out she was really sweet and charming. And in no time I found myself telling her everything – about us, about you and about all the problems that haunted me. 

Within two weeks we were like best friends and what really upset me was that you barely even noticed that something was not right between us. Well, I’m not blaming you or anything but I’m just being honest here because it’s important to me that you understand how it happened. 

First I thought that it was just a crush but I was wrong, I really love her, Jess. When I left 3 days ago for my business trip, it wasn’t a business trip; I just needed some time away from you to think about Julia. And after giving it a lot of thought I’ve decided that I want to be with Julia.

I never wanted to hurt you, but I can’t live without her. I’m extremely sorry Jess but please try and understand.

And don’t worry, you can keep the house and the car and I’ll also make sure that all your medical as well as day to day expenses are taken care of. If you ever need anything then just let me know. I’m always there for you, Jess.

I hope you’ll understand my situation. I’m sorry again. If possible then please try to forgive me.

Rik

What the hell!

I throw the phone on the sofa and yank all the hairpins from my hair, letting my wild stands fall loose. I wipe the mascara that I put on so carefully this morning and start ripping apart the dress that I’m wearing. I go inside crying, followed by Juno and change into pajama shorts. After changing my clothes I sit on the bed and look at myself in the mirror next to the bed. I look like a maniac, maybe that’s why he left me. I get up and get a comb and flopping down on the bed I start yanking on my strands.

After pulling my hair in a tight bun, I sit staring at my reflection in the mirror again. What is wrong with me, am I not beautiful anymore, am I not worth loving.

I stroke my stomach lightly, trying to imagine a small lump of flesh inside me, my child. I had only two percent chances of conceiving, and I did, isn’t it supposed to mean something good.

I break down at the thought of raising this child on my own. Curling on the bed I stuff my face under the pillow and start crying again like a ten year old.

I know I’m a fighter but I can’t fight back until I get all the hurt out of me through my tears. Last year after my accident, I cried continuously for five days, but after that I got up and fought back and against all odds I’m standing on my own feet today. That’s how I am.

I just need some time to get everything out of me – all the love I had for Riki, all the hurt, all the broken pieces of my heart – and then I’ll get up for good and fight back.


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Ruined Dreams (Jessie #2)

Ruined Dreams (Jessie #2)

Jessie: Story About A Girl is a contemporary fiction short story series based on the theme of love and family.

Each part of this story is written for the photo prompts at Describli.

Ruined Dreams

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Genre: Contemporary Fiction

 

“I love someone else,” one sentence that changed everything – my dreams, my expectations and, most of all, my life.

A sentence that completely shook the foundation of the only relationship in my life that I cherished.

Sitting in front of him, I can see that he’s still trying to explain me something animatedly. As if his falling in love with someone can be justified. As if all this is just something that can be explained. What really ticks me off is seeing him bothering to explain me all this. How can he not see that what he just said has literally destroyed my life, even more that that horrible accident I had about a year ago?

Looking at Rick making desperate attempts at finding a pathetic excuse for an explanation an odd thought hits me, is it because of that accident that he wants to leave me?

I remember, a few months back he was worried about my chances of conceiving a child. The doctors thought that because of my broken lower back I won’t be able to conceive a child, and he was really upset, at least more than I was expecting. I mean it’s only been two years since we got married and the truth is we never even really talked about it (about the baby) before that day, and the next thing I know, Rick got really upset with the news.

But if that’s the reason, then should I tell him that against all the odds I am pregnant?

I was so happy yesterday when I found out that I was expecting. I thought I’d tell him today and surprise him with the news but looks like life’s not meant to be that simple for me. Will he stay if he knows that he can be a father? Should I tell him after he’s just confessed his love for someone else? 

I don’t think so. No. I cannot. Because I don’t want him to love me just because I’ll be the mother of his child. Or worse yet, he might still leave, but not only just me but our child too. That will be really awful.

Why did you do this Rick? Why?

I look into Rick’s moist eyes and asks the question that’s been bugging me since he’s said those cursed 4 words, “Who?”

He looks taken aback for a second and the looking down, he says in a voice that is barely audible, “Nikita.”

“What?”

He nods his head slowly and looks at me, “Yes. It…. it just happened.”

Great. My husband is cheating on me with his secretary. Classic.

Was he going around with her when I had that accident? Or did all this started while I was being operated and my broken hands and legs were being fixed? Was she there for him when I was not?

Or did he start dating when I was crying day and night for all the opportunities that I missed?

Was he sleeping with her while I was trying to fix the crutches and dying with pain standing on my own legs?

How dare he?

How can he? How can he do something like this to me? He doesn’t have the right to destroy my life. He can’t just love someone else… or can he?

All of a sudden I’m feeling like the guy sitting in front of me is not the caring Rick I fell in love with,but an arrogant bastard full of shit.

I’m still sitting dazed and he’s still talking, to me or to Juno I’m not sure. I still can’t wrap my mind around it, “I love someone else” how can he say something like this and completely throw me off track?

It’s worse than anything I could have ever imagined.

Tears start rolling down my cheek. Suddenly I feel vulnerable. I wipe off my tears, smooth out the creases on my dress and stand up saying, “please leave.”

I go straight to the kitchen, turn off the stove, pick up the pan of the burned applesauce and place it on the platform.

I come out into the hall and see that he’s closing the door behind him.

I go to the closed door and see through the peephole – he is getting into his sedan.

I turn around and go to where Juno is sitting, set him off leash and sit where Rick had been sitting just a few minutes ago and as soon as I hear his car leave, a steady stream of tears start flowing down my cheeks.

I hug Juno and dropping all the pretences, I start crying.

***

You can read the previous parts of Jessie: Story About A Girl series here:

  1. Baking A Pie (Jessie #1)
  2. The Sting (Jessie #3)
  3. Autumn (Jessie #4)
  4. Evening Tea (Jessie #5)

NOTE: This is a piece of fiction any resemblance to any person or place (living or dead) is purely coincidental.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Baking A Pie (Jessie #1)

Baking A Pie (Jessie #1)

Jessie: Story About A Girl is a contemporary fiction short story series based on the theme of love and family.

Each part of this story is written for the photo prompts at Describli.

Baking a Pie

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Image Credit: Pixabay

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

 

I’m drenched in sweat, trying to figure out this new recipe mom e-mailed me yesterday and keeping Juno out of the kitchen – all at the same time.

Sometimes, I feel like I’ll go insane taking care of a dog with anxiety issues. It gets really difficult at times, especially since I’m in no condition to be able to run behind him or even to hold on to him when he tries to get away. There he is again, trying to get my attention by jumping like a possessed dog next to the kitchen counter, “Juno. Bad boy. Go, sit in the hall.” I try to give him one of the many commands I tried to teach him when he was a pup, but he happily disobeys as if he’s getting it all right by not following them.

I put the pastry lined pie tray in the oven hoping to god that I’ve got the right settings on the oven. Turning around, I leave kitchen trying to cajole Juno with a handful of treats into following me to get his leash from the bedroom. After tying him to the  leg of the sofa, I make my way back to the kitchen, and after taking a deep breath, I start preparing for the applesauce.

I smile to myself thinking that Rick will be surprised to see me out and about baking again. Let’s just hope that he won’t get angry that I’ve been working in the kitchen alone, especially when he’s away.

I put the diced apple in the pan, light the stove and add sugar to it. After adding cinnamon sticks, I go and check the oven for the time. It’s far from done. I check up on Juno who gives me an innocent look and when I don’t open him, he starts barking loudly.

I quickly go back to the stove making sure that the sugar is starting to melt and gently stir the apples. The sooner I’m done with this, the sooner I can let Juno free.

After a few minutes, as the sauce starts bubbling, I hear Rick’s car pull outside the main gate. Juno launches into a new barking frenzy and I can hear him aggressively struggling against his chain.

I go to the hall and try to calm down Juno, “Quiet, Juno. It’s just Rick. He’ll meet you in a minute, boy. Sit down.” Sighing I leave him to his crazed wiggling and slowly make my way to the main door smoothing down my hair.

I want to look perfect today. It’s our 2nd year anniversary and I’ve spent almost 2 hours in front of the mirror getting my hair all curly and bouncy. I’m sure he’ll be surprised to see me this way considering that the last time I got dressed nicely was before the accident last year.

I open the door with a huge smile on my face and watch, Rick, my first real crush turned boyfriend turned husband, getting out of his car. Behind me, Juno’s barking and wiggling intensifies because he hates to be tied up, especially when the main door is open.

I look at Rick’s beautiful face as he turns around and tries to take in his beautiful features. Small eyes, thin lips, sharp and long nose and a straight and slick face. He’s tall with 6’2” height and has a great athletic physique. He looks like a proper gentleman, which he obviously is, as he makes his way towards me with a bouquet in his hands looking great in his black suit.

“Welcome home, sweetie. I really missed you!” I say as I hug him.

I’m seeing him after three days, he’s been out for work, and I can’t believe just how much I missed him in these three days. I miss the days when Rich and I used to be so inseparable that he used to turn down out-of-station meetings just to be with me. But lately, it’s like he’s trying to attend as many meetings out of town as possible. He’s always out, at least twice a week, and I’m considering talking to him about it.

I can’t stay alone in this huge house, at least not now. And I’m sure that once I tell him about the big news he’ll only insist on staying at my side all the time. Today, our 2nd anniversary is the perfect day to tell him that he’s going to be a Daddy.

I lean closer to him and kiss his neck, but that’s when I notice that he’s holding me very weakly. I pull back from him and notice something that I missed to see before –  he’s looking tired, very tired. I smile at him and say, “I’m so sorry sweetie, are you okay? Come let’s go inside. I’ll get you some water.”

As we make our way inside, my heart drops just a little because I was expecting him to comment on how I’m looking or maybe the fact that I was standing straighter and walking better. Guess, he’s really tired.

I take a glass of cold water to the hall where he’s sitting patting Juno. “Here,” I say handing him the glass. Juno seems to have finally decided to sit quietly.

After gulping down the entire glass of water in one long swig he looks at me as if he’s seeing me for the first time today and says, “Oh, you look good, Jess. Is that makeup?”

I blush and nod.

“You look nice.” He smiles awkwardly and then shifts uncomfortably in his seat, looking like he wants to say something.

I know that he’s been driving since morning but that doesn’t mean that he can’t remember our anniversary. How can he?

I site on the sofa-chair next to the sofa Rick’s sitting on and realize that something’s not right. I sit there looking at Rick from the corner of my eyes as he tries to look at everything in the room except for me. None of us has spoken in the last ten minutes and now it’s really getting a little awkward. I try to push back the weird feeling in my gut and try to break the silence when I see him staring at his shoes, “You remember what day is it today?”

Looking relieved to have something to talk about, Rick smiles at me and says, “I guess it’s Tuesday.”

“Yeah. It’s Tuesday.”

He looks at me for a second and then resumes staring at his shoes. Losing my patience, I open my mouth to ask him how can he forget our anniversary, but right then Rick blurts out, “Umm… Jess, I need to talk to you.”

Studying him and noticing that his forehead is covered in beads of sweat, I stop myself in time and say, “Yes?” but that’s when the timer of the oven sings, “Oh shit, I’ll be back in a minute.”

Forgetting about our exchange and the heart-sinking feeling, I try to walk towards the oven as fast as I can and take out the pie tray. It feels a little dry when I check it, but it doesn’t matter because I was anyway making the sauce slightly runny, just the way Rick likes it.

I put the pie on the counter next to the stove and after stirring the applesauce, which is starting to look a little dry, I remember that Rick got a mail from his office yesterday that was marked urgent. “Oh shit!” Without turning the gas off I go back to the hall and picking up the parcel from the TV stand I hand it to Rick, “This came for you yesterday. I’m so sorry I forgot to tell you about it.”

I look at Juno and smile when I see that he’s dozed off.

I turn back to Rick, who gives me a small smile, takes the parcel and without even looking at it, he puts it beside him and shifts in his seat to face me, “Listen, Jess, I really need to tell you this right now, otherwise I won’t be able to get through with it.”

I sit down on slowly thinking what is the matter with him. “What happened Rick?”

“I wanted to tell this to you before, Jess, but I didn’t have the courage to tell you.” He closes his eyes tightly and takes a deep breath. Opening his eyes, he says “It’s not something that I planned for, so please, don’t hate me.”

All of a sudden my heart is pounding so loudly that I feel like throwing up, “What are you talking about?”

“I… I love someone else.”

My entire body freezes. What? 

I sit there staring at Rick’s face for a long time. My mind seems to have shut down. I see that Rick comes closer to me and gently shakes me by the shoulder. I look into his eyes and when my eyes settle on his lips I realize that he’s saying something. I shake my head as if to break the spell and hear him say, “Please say something Jessie, you’re scaring me.”

That’s when I smell a very strong smell of burning, but instead of rushing to the kitchen like I should, I sit there, still dumbstruck, and looking into Rick’s eyes I say, “My applesauce is burning.”

***

You can read the previous parts of Jessie: Story About A Girl series here:


NOTE: This is a piece of fiction any resemblance to any person or place (living or dead) is purely coincidental.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Book Review: Breakfast Is Severed

Book Review: Breakfast Is Severed

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Author: TyCobbsTeeth
Release: August 29th 2014
Series: None
Genre: Mystery | Thriller | Suspense
Edition: Kindle (Mobi)
Pages: 321
Publisher: HotPepper Publishing
Source: Author
Buy it here: Amazon

Continue reading “Book Review: Breakfast Is Severed”

It

Hello all,

I hope you guys are having a great start to this amazing week! I wasn’t able to write a post for Monday and Tuesday, but I’ve promised myself to be more regular. So here’s my 3rd story for the Five Photos, Five Stories Challenge.


Today’s Describli promo is Fear (A Ridiculous Fear) and here’s my story for it:

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This is not the prompt’s featured pic. But I like this one better, so I’m using this instead of the featured one.

It

I took a right turn and came to a sudden stop. I saw it looking at it’sprey. Black eyes bulging out and shining like thick lustrous black liquid. Skin reflecting the light of the setting sun like silk. It’s giant tail doing a sensual dance and it’s breathing dangerously calm.

It stood towering over it’s prey like a mountain in front of an ant. The pray was trembling, crying and begging for mercy. “Please, please let me go. I’ll never return to your territory again! I promise. Please, just let me go this time and I promise I’ll never disturb you again!”

I stood there frozen, seeing the intense exchange of emotions between a weak prey and a giant monster. I saw it move towards it’s prey with the grace of a water dancer. It moved it’s giant body like a huge snake. Stalking it’s tiny prey with hungry eyes and enjoying his helpless state.

I was drenched in sweat and my hands and legs started to shake. I wanted to run away from it and it’s unfortunate prey, but I was so shocked that I wasn’t able to find it in me to turn away and run. I took an unsteady step backwards and my sneaker squeaked.

It twisted it’s head ever so quickly that it might have been in less than a mili second.

The moment it’s eyes met mine, my legs started to melt like melting wax and my heart leaped to my throat. I let out an ungraceful sound from deep within the pit of my stomach, something like an animal cry, and it responded to my cry with a tiny tilt of it’s head. I was standing shocked still and was just waiting for it to turn to me and end my life but then it jumped and ran like I was going to eat it raw. For a second I did not understand what happened and then I heard my little sister laugh. I turned and looked at her.

She was giggling and said in a sing song voice: “Anna is scared of Lizard! Anna is scared of Lizard!”

***